Does a remote and distributed workforce change the way you manage your technology? Nick Russell, Managing Director of Xonetic gives us a clue and answers, yes it does
The challenges of COVID-19 have brought a sharp focus on technology investments. Everyone knows that tech investments are a good thing, right? But as a Business Leader, how do you know that the investments you make give you the best bang for your buck?
And when you have a workforce that is almost totally remote, how do you organise them to ensure success?
For a number of years now, there have been changes in the way technology is created. The advent of the cloud has brought access to really good, working enterprise technology within reach of every organisation. We can all relate to and marvel at, the speed at which almost every business has been able to access enterprise-grade video collaboration tools. Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, etc., have been simple to access and for the most part, they have just worked. No longer does IT need seven months to plan and build a service. A credit card can switch it on in moments.
But this success has brought new challenges. Now we have access to amazing tools, easily and cheaply, what is the best way to use them? What is the best way to drive business value?
Xonetic helps organisations combine the latest cloud technologies (Products) with modern ways of working (Business Technology). If you have the right products and you apply them in the correct way, you can dramatically improve your effectiveness as a business. We call this Digital Energy, and Xonetic exists to help organisations gain maximum benefit from it.
There are some simple ideas to follow that work well with our customers:
First idea: Use cloud applications
Specifically, ones that bring the best of breed functional capability. They are so easy to deploy that the traditional time spent first buying a package and then customising it for the business are reduced from years to months. Do not build an HR tool. Buy one.
Remember, though! Buying more business tools requires a different team focus – you will need a better legal and commercial understanding in your tech teams to allow you to spin up contracts as and when needed.
The huge benefit of all of this is that time is freed up for the organisation to think about how business tools are arranged in terms of creating business value trains and not into the act of implementing the tools themselves.
Second idea: Have an operating mindset that thinks about value, not tasks
A digital mindset places the customer at the heart of every action. Think about this for a moment, are you really certain that every person in your business understands how their efforts contribute to customer happiness?
This is not a simple switch from measuring one thing to another. The business of measuring tasks, running projects, managing change incrementally, are all skills that are vital to an organisation’s success. However, if the importance of the tasks themselves is the main focus rather than the outcomes, then the value is lost. I have personally worked on many projects with a great name, Horizon, Phoenix, Vision, where the link to the value is not easy to spot. I sense that a large ERP project will help the customer, but I do not know it.
The shift in mindset is subtle, the emphasis is placed on tooling to measure the success of task activities, such as DevOps, whilst organisational attention is moved to the creation of value streams. This is a vital concept – keep measuring tasks. But don’t use people to do it – automate and then automate some more.
Deciding on the value streams themselves should not be a monumental task, rather start small and then iterate to see what sticks. Virtual teams should be created to support the value streams; this is not an exercise in changing job titles and team structures – although this will come over time as the organisation learns.
Teams that are familiar with agile development techniques will be familiar with the concept of value streams – however, many activities within an organisation do not lend themselves to being managed iteratively and are more sequential in nature. So the trick here is not just to “do agile”, but rather think about how to organise around value.
For example, one of our customers is a large European retailer, who is opening a store every single day (even at the moment!). This type of activity requires well defined sequential plans which are not agile in nature. Having implemented our Business Technology Operating model, their activity is measured by value – this is part of a value stream that is based around the customer experience, that also drives the customer online experience so that they are in tandem, in lockstep with the physical approach.
The Business Technology framework is now in its 11th year and has been used by many hundreds of companies across the Nordics to harness Digital Energy. Open source and developed continuously by the community, it represents battle-tested strategies and ways of working. Our expertise and training academy offers the opportunity to access this model at your own pace. Self-led, guided or consulting-led models (or a blend of all three) are available depending on what works best for your business.
So coming back to the distributed nature of teams. By measuring value and not tasks, employees can deeply connect with the nature of the work they are doing which helps with morale and focus. Organisations can focus on value – not what an individual did today, but use metrics like the average value created every month. You can start to measure and predict the value that your teams will deliver, and this allows you to identify areas that need support, to improve the predictability of results. This approach is holistic, inclusive and does not worry about measuring individual tasks.
At its heart, Digital Modernisation is about improving your customer experience. We define Digital Energy as the combination of highly digital and automated business applications and tools, combined with Industry-leading ways of working, practices and techniques.
If you would like to understand more about our open-source best practice knowledge, training and advisory services then please drop in for a virtual coffee or register for a free seminar.
Please note: This is a commercial profile
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