Many businesses are still working to recover after the worst of the pandemic, maneuvering supply chain issues and labor shortages. On top of all that, the economy has resulted in a very mixed bag, with rising inflation being the latest dog to jump on the growing pile of challenges. In a recent survey by American Express, between July of 2021 and 2022, revenues reportedly grew by 87% but overall profits actually declined by 4%.
Many businesses are trying to find the balance between increasing efficiencies, raising prices, and focusing their spending on areas of their business which bring the greatest return on investment. Technology is an ever-present part of that discussion, particularly as businesses re-evaluate their process management. The solutions will differ somewhat depending on where your business is on the lean process spectrum. With this article, we want to provide some general guidance and “food for thought” as you consider how to leverage technology to get the most impact for your business.
The first area to consider harkens back to the adage “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.” Technology solutions provide the ability to collect and centralize important data on both your customers and your process metrics. Inadequate data drastically narrows the potential for improvement, flow management, and proof of success. Technology implemented correctly can collect critical data and begin to shed light on areas of your process that were previously ambiguous. This goes hand-in-hand with the lean process, making problems visible, prioritizing them, and solving them.
Managing Large Amounts of Data
Once you’ve been collecting data for any period of time, it can quickly become overwhelming. Manually reviewing and sorting the data becomes nearly impossible at some point. The right technology systems can help by collecting, organizing, centralizing, and correlating this mountain of data into actionable information. It can follow the rules you set to reduce the manpower burden of managing the data. Business management software, dashboards, and custom reporting can present the information in an easily digestible way. These types of solutions provide an overview supported by detailed data that you can use to make insightful decisions and impactful adjustments to your process.
Providing Real-Time Information
If your business moves quickly, (and most do) having real-time data on the status of things like production and manufacturing schedules, downtime, and manpower availability can be critical to success. This is especially true in today’s lean manufacturing processes. Implementing a system which quickly displays the current state of production helps you identify opportunities to eliminate waste, as well as activities and resources which do not ultimately add value. These steps go on to further help optimize business processes and improve customer satisfaction.
Regardless of your business’s specific technology needs, solutions must be implemented thoughtfully to provide the most value. A common misstep is to just throw technology at an issue as a cure-all. Instead, carefully analyze the root of the issue and the desired goal before implementing a solution. It’s important to identify whether a process needs to be more efficient, or changed altogether. After all, technology generally won’t fix a bad process, it will only speed up a bad process.
Dictate Your Own Process
Our final point to consider is an all-too-frequent pitfall associated with technology – inflexibility. While many businesses begin with a standardized philosophy, like just-in-time or lean processes, each grows to become unique and individual. You have honed your processes over time to accommodate your clients needs, give you an edge over the competition, and drive your value proposition. Many times, business leaders are faced with the dilemma of having to change successful processes to fit within the limitations of established software or inflexible technology structures. Technology should be pulled by the business, rather than pushed onto the business. Be mindful and take care not to lose more efficiency or value than you gain. Ideally, a solution should offer the customization and flexibility to fit your process and not the other way around, so your business can function at its best.
At Dorian Solutions, we believe that lean business and manufacturing processes are human-centric. Technology should be a supporting part which empowers you to drive previously unrealized efficiency by providing real-time data and visibility into the processes, machines, and people involved. This in turn allows for human insight and creativity to make the best possible decisions based on accurate, and timely data.
We can help at any point in the journey from process review and evaluation, to software development, integration, or implementation. Don’t hesitate to reach out with questions or to request a call. Our mission is to provide you with the tools you need to get back to growing your business, and not just running it!