Software OR Creating flow in your organization – which will improve customer delivery reliability sooner? 

You’re trying to improve your customer delivery and eliminate headaches throughout your process. You’ve tried some consulting in the past, maybe even a few lean tools, but everything feels a little soft.   

You’re considering another more robust push for a new software solution to make things flow a little better. After all, there’s something appealing about software: it serves to make your job more efficient – right? 

Yet, time after time, software implementations fail to meet expectations and rarely help deliver the outcomes your clients expect. 

Some of the most commonly asked questions we get centers around software: 

  • When should we implement our software – before or after Duggan’s work? 
  • Which solution should we consider? 
  • How can we ensure it’s actually going to work for us this time? 

In this post we’re going to discuss software’s role in improving your customer delivery and how to answer some of the critical questions about selecting the right solution for your business. 

Setting up a new software

There are so many options out there, and so many configurations, so it can be difficult to know which one is right for you. The key idea is that the software should be a tool that brings your value stream design to life. You don’t want to have to compromise a best practice value-stream to fit the software. You would be better off knowing what the value stream needs from the software, and then having it configured to deliver that from day one.

As you are installing a new software for your company, you will have a lot of configuration decisions to make which will influence how you use it, what it looks like, and how team members interact with it. 

Ideally, you as the CFO or CEO would hire software professionals to train your staff on the upcoming technology, as well as model the way you want the software to run. The value stream design can serve as the blueprint for how the software needs to support your operation. It is a great tool for engaging the software engineers with, and ensuring they truly understand how work should flow through your business. With this approach, you are far more likely to get the software installed right the first time, as well as no significant changes to the cost of either project. It is worth noting that the two initiatives can be run in parallel; have your software engineers participate in the value stream design process so they truly understand how things should flow and how best to support that with the software. 

Having too much faith in the Software

Whether you’re working in an office based flow such as Engineering or I.T., or out on the production floor, you have many amazing software packages to choose from. For example, we work with a lot of clients who are applying Agile concepts, probably associated with a deployment of the Jira platform for workflow. 

Software such as Jira does an amazing job of visualizing workflows, organizing tasks, keeping track of the timing and progress of tasks etc. It is a great package. And it can be beautifully configured to support lean and Operational Excellence. But the thing that we often see missing from such a deployment is a design for how people will interact with the software

Organizations place too much faith in automated emails that tell the user they have something waiting for them to work on (check your email right now… how many such notifications are you currently ignoring?). If you truly want to reap the benefit of this, or any other software package, even something as simple as email, you should have a value stream design that tells team members when to interact with the program, for how long, to what end, at what interval etc. OpEx and lean bring this discipline to your deployment and enable you to realize genuinely impressive results. 

In the case of Jira, it can easily be configured to be a visual FIFO system that clearly shows whether the flow or workload is in a normal or abnormal condition, which in turn triggers a management-free reaction from the team. A hugely valuable addition to a Jira deployment that is very simple to achieve. 

Duggan’s personalized approach to streamlining operations 

There are so many options out there, and so many configurations to choose from. At Duggan Associates, we are happy to work with any system. That being said, our advice to you would be to start at least some Opex training prior to configuring any software.

During this transformation we will run formal education at all levels of the organization, teaching leaders how to successfully guide the business through the transformation, and teaching team members the skills to make it happen. This will set you up for success when it comes time to update your software and streamline operations. 

The concepts we teach at Duggan work very well with most project management, people management, work-flow programs, etc., but some of these concepts may drastically change how you want to set up your software. 

It’s also worth mentioning that we will work other systems into the future state designs as needed too. Whether it’s Slack, Jira, Office365, Smartsheets etc, they all have the capability of working within an Opex environment.

Simple concepts from our Opex model such as Work-Flow Cycles can be easily created through a system like Igrafx, our operations software. We have designed Igrafx to give our clients customizability in order to make any process automated to meet the needs of their company. 

We so often see work-flow software being used haphazardly and with such little discipline that the productivity hit is quite significant. One of the concepts we teach our clients when they’re looking at digital is: If you can entirely automate a process then that’s easy, but as soon as there is a human interaction with the software, that interaction must be designed. 

That is exactly what we do here at Duggan. To learn more about how we can help your company implement operations software, reach out to us today!