As I began to write this entry, I was concerned that it may be too tactical and perhaps I should continue to develop strategic insight. But that would not be fair to you, the reader, because truly leveraging new technology or processes for maximum benefit involves tactical heavy lifting. I do not think I would be doing my job as part educator if I did not provide a few fundamental steps so at the very least you can begin to take the first steps towards true progress. My challenge to you, before you write this off as too much nuts and bolts, is to read through it, contemplate where you have missed some opportunities and try just a few examples on paper. You may be surprised at the insights you garner.
In our blog on “Sure you have them but do they work,” we proposed that the purchase and implementation of a SaaS tool was just the beginning of the effort to maximize value. At that time we did not elaborate on the process to truly maximize utilization, so as a follow-up we wanted to provide some direction to get you started.
Traditionally when working with our clients our first step is to develop an IDEF0 diagram for the new software tool. We like to use this method because of its simplicity and clear visual effect. We have tried cross functional diagrams, but have not found them as effective for this type of modeling. An added benefit is that you can choose the level of the organization (component, role/function, department, division, company) you want to start and move up or down as required. The figure on the left shows the basic construct. For a high-level overview refer to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IDEF0 .
Let’s examine this in a hypothetical example to give you a better understand of how its’ constructed. In this example we will use a simple online calculator tool for a new car.
Let’s start with the inputs. Aside from the obvious inputs (price, term, etc.), what additional information would improve the final outputs or solution? Would you be able to provide improved pricing if authenticated? Then it should be an input. Does interest rate or promotions vary by state? Make it an input. One note here, just because it is an input does not imply that the customer should enter the field. We need to leverage the information available within the organization before we request any data input.
Next, let’s examine outputs. The obvious one is payment, but what other outputs are possible? Can we feed the information to a marketing campaign for an auto loan, or how about an opportunity to review their insurance policies? When looking at outputs one needs to examine who else in the organization would be interested in this data or who could benefit from it if they talking to the customer. Only then are you truly maximizing the tools capabilities and leveraging it for increased returns.
Finally, what features or functionality are available and have you leveraged them. The easiest way to do this is to get a list of capabilities from the software firm and match them against how you are currently using the tool. In many cases there are additional features that are underutilized that can be leveraged in the new solution. If something is not clear how it could benefit your implementation, ask the firm best practices or how other firms that have already implemented it use the functionality.
Your organization has already spent the money to purchase the product and completed some level of implementation, but the next step is to make it perform well by fully utilizing it for maximum returns. Even though we used a simple calculator in this example the opportunities abound with more robust tools. Pick an opportunity and start today.
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