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Is Enterprise Operational Excellence Obtainable Without Technology?

After a quick search in Google, you are likely to find out that operational excellence doesn’t have a unified interpretation. For some it’s a vague and superficial expression, and for some it is the final goal in process improvement.

Regardless of how you interpret enterprise operational excellence, its process and methodology is fairly clear and agreed upon. In a survey done by McKinsey it is stated, “Done right, world-class operational execution can add up to 30 percent of value to the production asset base”.

My intention here is to show why harnessing technology could only work to your advantage. In fact, although you might not have budgeted for it this year, you’ll soon understand that the ROI from successful enterprise programs, will make the purchase quite worthwhile.

Although achieving the final results is possible to some degree without technology, you may want to keep in mind that there is an emphasis on “excellence”. Meaning, a result less than excellent is simply not enough. Or alternatively, the efforts required to achieve that “excellence” were so heavy in employee bandwidth, that the payback is far lower.

Now I’ll focus on the basic fundamentals and dissect them to prove why using technology will not only improve your results, but require relative little effort or time. In general, these are the basic fundamentals for proper Enterprise Strategy Execution:

  • Strategic Planning – Goal setting is the first step so it will be clear when you’ve achieved the desired level of excellence.

That is where technology comes into play. Where are you planning to write your goals? On a white board in the office? Business intelligence (BI) solutions offer great tools to mark KPIs. However these two present difficult pain points: Lack of agility and connectivity to other IT assets. More importantly, the ability to affect results is limited since it usually presents results retroactively.

There are several strains to strategy execution software, which come from different directions, with various degrees of success to enable maximum potential of this plan.

  • Driving process improvement – While process improvement deserves its own section and its own methodologies such as Six Sigma, Lean Manufacturing. Process improvement is basically a theoretical approach based on the human aspect and a result driven process meant to show results.
  • Embrace scientific thinking – This goes without saying. If you truly want achieve your end goal, you have to embrace scientific thinking.

As a reminder, this is one of the ten principles to get the Shingo prize for operational excellence. Naturally, to be scientific you must use calculated methods, and everything should be documented.

To be successful you need to use a software which will gather all the information needed, and put all users on one page for a single source of data. Multiple IT assets producing endless amount of valuable information reaching across countless business units in a large enterprise, is simply impossible to do so without proper help from technology.

Remember strategy planning doesn’t necessarily include strategy execution. Few large enterprises experience successful strategy execution. However, if you follow the previous stages outlined here and align your operational plan with your strategic plan, your goals in both should be achieved.

 You still may believe it is possible to drive the results you are after without technology. You may believe that strong leadership with the right team and the right communication downward is enough to drive significant changes in your organization. However, be honest with yourself about the costs of the efforts to push that change forward. The truth is that usually if you are truly interested in excellence, you are certainly going to be investing in technology. After all, why have you invested in technologies to ensure the quality of so many other aspects of your business, yet you rely on offline systems to achieve your strategic goals? 

Technology will allow you to cross the border between marginal and good results to perfect, accurate and most importantly, excellent results for enterprise operational excellence.