It’s budget season, which means it is time to set goals and get the investment necessary to achieve them. We write extensively on ROI and the supply chain, and recently published an eBook on The 3 Stages of Digital Transformation. These bits of content were created with a firm understanding of what our clients and prospects tell us every day. In fact, they summarize everyday conversations we have as part of our supply chain consultations.
One of the interesting trends we find in these conversations is where investment is moving on a year-over-year basis. Regardless of the objective, investment always falls into the familiar categories of people, process, and technology. It’s like love and marriage. You can’t have one without the other. So, what does this prioritization mean?
Companies are comfortable with their tech stack and know how to get the work done. It’s likely that between COVID, retirements, work/life balance and competition, there is a growing skills gap between the team and business objectives. Prioritizing people does not mean fresh new hires; it also involves retraining and re-educating teams. Some often-overlooked considerations include the adoption of technology – does the team fully embrace investments made in tech? These investments tend to die on the vine if users are not educated on the benefits, do not know how to use the platforms or the technology is not well supported by the provider. Make sure your team has the tools to succeed and is enabled to make the best use of them.
Back in my days of operations, we always talked about getting the basic “blocking and tackling” right. Sometimes this is harder than getting the right people and tech in place. The culprit here is often working environments that are reactive. They never get ahead of the problem. Or, they solve the same problem over and over. In my home life, I am always reorganizing our pantry so that canned goods, pet food, baking needs, carbs, etc. are each in a specific area. My wife does not adhere to this. She just tosses stuff in the pantry where there is space. As a result, we (me) can never find anything, and we buy the same thing twice (poor inventory management). The point is the process needs to be agreed to and followed by all parties or it will fail, again and again.
So, if process is going to be a priority, think about why it needs to be fixed and why it matters to everyone. Do not create new processes (or fix old ones) unless everyone signs off on a strong foundation. Or (going back to the football analogy), you will be 3 and out every time you get possession.
Most technology investment requires a long-term commitment. It behooves you to choose carefully. Deciding to invest in tech must be made with an eye on the “to-be” state and not the “now” state. You’ll be forever chasing your tail if you do not know where you want to go.
Companies should ask themselves why the investment needs to be made at all. Is it because of tech advances in your business (a very good reason) or is it due to failures in people and processes? Compensating for the lack of people and processes with technology is a trap. No amount of tech will fully cover incomplete processes or incompatible personnel. Tech is an enabler to the team, not a replacement.
Or maybe the tech you require compliments what is already in place and extends the life of other investments that have been made and (hopefully) paid for? Certainly, we see this at Arkieva where some use our solution to fill gaps in large ERP implementations such as SAP or Oracle.
Lastly, some are seeking a true transformation of how business is conducted. This is a heavy lift for organizations involving all three areas of prioritization: people, process and technology. Companies seeking reinvention have probably been discussing the need for change for some time. If you are beginning the conversation now, it likely means you are looking at a 2024 implementation. 2023 is going to be a busy year for you to get ready for transformation.
Obviously, there are more than the reasons above, but prioritizing goals is not to be taken lightly. And there is one good starting point for any planning process: ask your people what they see that needs to be improved and how they would go about it. They are in the weeds day-to-day – who better to consider? Ask analysts such as Gartner or Forrester about trends they see, and talk to the salespeople in your organization – they often have ideas based on conversations with prospects and customers. Listen to what they all think and synthesize that into your planning. You may learn something that will help with your 2023 planning and outcomes.
Where are you prioritizing investment in 2023? Take this one-question survey and let us know. We’ll share the result in a future post.