Dig Deeper for Smarter Strategic Planning & Better Execution

David Pate | June 20, 2017 | 

Dashboards are not enough

As technology solution providers, we’ll be the first to tell you that the right dashboarding or analytics solution can be invaluable for providing insights on opportunities for improving company performance. But as consultants we’ll also be the first to warn you that without the right knowledge, metrics, and effective processes to back it up, you will never fully realize the promise of a good solution. The fact is, for any company to truly hit their strategic goals AND experience significant productivity and efficiency gains you need a combination of experience, the right data, and good processes and technology.

Think about it this way…say you had to choose between two mechanics to rebuild your car engine. One has access to a garage with all the latest diagnostic and repair tools, but no manuals or prior experience working on your car’s engine type. The other mechanic has access to older tools, but has much more experience with your engine model and utilizes up-to-date manuals and repair checklists. In this situation, your best bet would be the experienced mechanic with the proper checklists, but neither situation is ideal. But, if you combined the slick new tools of the first mechanic with the experience and buttoned up process of the second, you have found a mechanic you can trust. And that’s a simple example. With complex business operations, the variables for what can go wrong as you work to keep performance and strategic goals on track multiply very quickly. A cool new dashboard tool alone will not fix problems or even help you understand why they happened. Continuous process improvement and productivity gains require a more comprehensive approach and solution that can help you not only clearly see issues and opportunities hidden in data, but also analyze root causes and quickly take appropriate countermeasures.

Avoiding a tool trap

With so many different, slick, and easy-to-implement analytics solutions to choose from today it’s easy to fall into a “tool trap” of sorts where process needs or changes aren’t given enough consideration in the face of exciting new features and capabilities. Solution implementations fall short of expectations for all kinds of reasons, including:

  • Lack of understanding process issues or the need for process changes
  • Focusing on the wrong things due to not having the right data or an easy way to access it
  • Difficulty understanding when and where any breaks in a process are happening due to improper alignment of data
  • Don’t have the right experience in-house to integrate operational and business needs with the right technology

Even the most “supped-up” dashboards typically don’t include capabilities for making the all-important connections between analysis and process rigor. This disconnect makes it virtually impossible to pinpoint where the issues are and how to fix them. In an earlier blog post I explain how dashboards alone are just ‘art’ because they don’t have native capabilities to help you act to drive performance and productivity forward.

Ultimately, the success of a comprehensive solution for strategic planning, process management and effective execution will also depend on the business and technical expertise involved in the implementation. That’s why, whether you are interested in near-term performance gains, or you want to get your arms around daily, weekly and monthly performance trends to make better decisions about 2018 strategic priorities, it can be well worth your while to pull in outside experts for guidance. Consultants like TBM can help internal experts who are emotionally tied to the business stay grounded as they look at the big picture and find and analyze critical data to understand what really needs to happen and why.

Adding up the value

When you combine the right technology with effective processesin support of strategic imperatives the results speak for themselves. For example, in one family owned and operated business we work with, the executive team became frustrated when various family members began introducing many new ideas about where to take the business. Their team had thrown up their collective arms and was struggling with how to move forward. With the help of our operations management consultants, we reviewed and narrowed down the various ideas into a focused vision, and figured out how they could achieve their new goals, and what they needed to measure. Then, once we put a technology solution and the appropriate processes in place, the company was very successful at achieving the strategic goals that they had settled on. Eventually, they were even able to move forward on addressing some of the other previously de-selected goals.

The new CEO of another client brought us in to help him execute his strategic vision and transform the business. He sought to pursue significant growth through acquisitions while continually generating enough cash to fund the acquisitions. In this case, we helped implement the tools (Dploy Solutions and Operational Excellence) and processes (management systems) to drive improvement and free up cash to successfully achieve the strategic vision.

Bringing everything full circle for a successful year

After the strategic planning season ends it is the time to be thinking about better alignment of goals with KPIs and especially processes. For nearly half the cost of similar types of offerings, Dploy Solutions can help you gain a clear understanding of the daily, weekly and monthly performance trends that are important to identifying strategic priorities. It is also the only business process management system that is designed to bridge data from disparate systems so you can implement strategy, manage projects—and act on issues—before they become a drag on performance or derail goals. Most importantly, it’s backed by operations experts who can guide you in the best practices for using the solution properly and accelerating your ROI.

1 IT Knowledge Exchange/TechTarget, May 15 2017, ‘Cross-Discipline, Integrated Management Solution is Key’ – Part 2 in 3 part series.

David Pate
David Pate

A skilled business leader with experience in both process and discrete manufacturing. Learn More About David Pate.