If technology is the building blocks, we use to achieve operational efficiencies and better experiences, then strategy in how it is deployed is the foundation. Recently I have had the opportunity to speak with several companies so focused on deploying technology without thinking it through thoroughly in advance. There are so many examples of what happens when we launch headlong into technology without strategy, that I am not sure how history keeps repeating itself.
Whether it be a simple project involving one technology or a larger effort that crosses platforms, business units or companies, we often are so eager to get the results, that we do not get “stuck at start.” I have used this phrase over and over to try and preach the benefits of pausing to ensure we are well prepared for the journey ahead. This initial phase is where we clearly define what we are about to do, what we will gain, who will we need involved, what tools will we use and most importantly build cohesion and consensus to the journey.
Let us take a recent example of a customer that bought a bunch of software licenses from a vendor that was promising they would solve the problem – well sadly those software vendors just want to sell licenses. They took no time to understand the problems the organization was facing and aligning if their technology could solve them. But the customer believed as many do and off, they went with a purchase order for shelf-ware that I am sure they can use somewhere, just not on the problem they identified. We worked with this client and clearly laid out the 15+ problems and with strategy, not technology, devised a plan. This plan put forth a roadmap around people, processes, technology, and ROI that they could easily follow.
Another example where a customer jumped into a large ERP implementation without clearly defining what they were trying to accomplish through it. They swore they did not want a lift and shift but had no plan to address the processes or transformation needed. No budget, no resources and no plan meant they got a lift and shift. We offer several pre-planning engagements to stop the insanity, and have you focus on really the effort you are about to undertake so you can be successful in transformation if indeed that is what you intend to have as an outcome.
Strategy is not an afterthought; it must come first. To be effective it must be independent and not based on a tool. Therefore, software vendors honestly are horrible at strategy – they want to sell you a hammer – all they must solve your problems is a hammer. You may need a screw put in the wall, guess what, they will use a hammer to get that in. You need an independent strategist with an approach that makes sense to guide you through the process. Therefore, we always lead with our approach and methodology, how we are going to help our customers. Because if they do not agree with the process, we can adapt right out of the gate.
Would you buy a house by just looking at the fancy appliances, without understanding the layout, or how the foundation was laid out? Of course not, so do not start efforts without strategy or you will wind up with licenses you cannot use (appliances) or worse yet, a significant effort that ends in failure.