It's All About the Data

It's All About the Data
It's All About the Data

Monday, April 7, 2014

Tools vs. Process

We use many tools everyday.  We use cellphone to call, a cordless drill to put together a new desk for the home office, and software tools to get business done.  Accomplishing business tasks is a 'process' - whether the task is inputting invoices into an accounting package, designing buildings, writing purchase orders, or doing big data analytics.

There is a debate that goes on about the tools - Which tool is best?  This happens in cellphones (Apple vs. Samsung), cordless drills (Makita vs. DeWalt), and software (PC vs. Mac).  In the software world, there is even a more divisive battle over the tools to complete specific office-based tasks (Google Docs vs. MS Office).  

There is a current theory stating "the tool is unimportant, it is about the process".  I agree that efficient and productive business processes are most important.  But what about "the right tool for the job".

WHY THE TOOL CHOSEN SO IMPORTANT?

As the picture illustrates, it is possible to hammer a screw into a piece of wood, but it is inefficient and does not lead to a good result.  Same goes for business tools selection.  Here is my take:

1. If the product is free, you got what you paid for.  If you believe that the free tool is just as good, realize the free software has other purposes (example Google Docs - do you think that Google is doing some sort of analytics on your work?)
2. If you are deciding on two competing tools, look for the company that has been innovative.  Innovation will lead to business process improvements. 
3. The more powerful the tool, the more training required.  If it is a drill with lots of options - you will need to read the instruction manual to use all the options.  If the tool is software - get process-based training to fully utilize the business benefits.

CAN I HAVE IT ALL?

I think you can have it all (great tools with great process), but it takes investment.  Investment in the software, implementation, training, and on-going support all are key building blocks to fully leverage and maximization of business process improvements.  This is especially true if the business is based upon services (the selling of labor by the hour or task).  All improvements to the process efficiency (including re-work) benefit directly to the bottom line.

Nothing comes for free, but like in financial world; invest wisely and the payback is certain.

David Haynes, PMP, is Director of Consulting at Ideate, Inc. (www.ideateinc.com).  David's experience is in providing companies with business process analysis and change implementation.  @dhaynestech.

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