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People, Process and Technology (Why Technology is Always Last)

We at SCM Connections would love to show you our “People, Process and Technology” slide.

 

Everybody has one; they make you write it before you can receive your official consultant’s license*.  But let’s go beyond the boilerplate and really explore why, of these 3 key points for your business, technology always is and always will be the last one listed.

Somewhere along the line we lost track of the fact that technology should work for people, and not the other way around.  One day I will write a thesis about how an entire generation of supply chain planners have no idea how to actually plan.  Anyone that became a planner between 2001 and 2016 works at the mercy of their systems.  But, all that is about to change…

At SCM Connections we take the order of the “People, Process, Technology” slide seriously.

So when we say “People, Process, Technology” here’s what we mean: 


People:  We love people.  Our therapists tell us that we’re people pleasers…. To a fault.  Although this does create some issues for us (and some dollars for our shrinks), we wouldn’t have it any other way.  People exist at the heart of every single supply chain.  Connections between people are especially critical.  We love the dedication, late hours, and hard work we see every day from our planners.  We just wish it was towards a better end.  People will get the job done whether or not technology can meet their needs.  That’s why Excel is so popular.  We feel warm in our hearts when a planner escapes the shackles of a VLOOKUP function to start making decisions based on the information in front of them.  The best planners are people that are never satisfied, and we’re always trying to keep them happy.  Those are our people. 

mousetrap game

Flow Chart Software (circa 1990)

Process:  Who doesn’t love a good flow chart?  Not these nerds.  Maybe it’s the endless games of Mousetrap we played as kids, but a good process is a thing of beauty.  Passing the baton from one part of the organization to the other without friction, drops or stumbles is what we strive for.  Making the complicated appear simple is a difficult task, but it’s worth it.  Ironically, this is the heart of a successful systems project.  Spend time on the process and the results are easy.  We’re not perfect- we’ve missed our opportunities along the way.  But every time we struggle, it turns out that we should have spent more time on the process before jumping into the solution.  Hold us to it, spend an extra minute on the flow chart.  We’ll thank you later. 

Technology: Finally!  A technology company gets to talk technology.  We’re (huge) nerds, so we obviously love anything technology.  But if the technology doesn’t exist to enable a process to support people, then it’s just a parlor trick.  New technologies, especially those which are cloud-based, are highly configurable and flexible.  And that makes our jobs so much easier, right? Well, actually, it makes them harder. When the technological barriers are removed, the focus on the people and process becomes much clearer.  You need to nail the people and process, and then wrap the technology around them.  When done right, you’ll never notice the technology that was there in the first place. 

 

people on segways

Sometimes, people are just better off WITHOUT technology

And that brings us to the “So what?” What does all of this stuff mean really anyway?  Why does it matter that a systems integrator has a philosophy?  Because you can see things differently through a different lens.  We see technology existing to make processes better and give us the information we crave. In that frame of mind, projects become business first, second and third.  And the results speak for themselves.

 

*Note: there is no such thing as an official consultant’s license