My view is that all businesses pretty much operate around three key components – Sales, Operations, and Finance. I know that every business is unique and has its own way of doing things. I believe and live that. But let me explain how I boil this down.
The Building Blocks
Every company has to sell – either a product, a service, a widget, or an outcome. And to sell, there is a level of marketing needed and everything that goes around that. I call that Sales. To sell, you need to have your “inner workings” (from manufacturing to service delivery), and that forms what your business does. What is the outcome you are trying to achieve for your clients? How do you get that to them? I call that Operations. And finally, once you’ve sold your product or service, you have the invoicing, collecting, P&L, and balance sheets. And that’s Finance.
These three areas are interconnected with each other and form part of the foundation of the company. They may differ from business to business, but ultimately every organisation operates in these three areas.
Simplifying your business structure does not devalue what you do, in any way. On the contrary, I believe it even allows you to drive more value. When you take the complexity out of things, you instantly get a different perspective. I am not saying things aren’t complicated, and I know for a fact that running a technology business is no piece of cake, but that doesn’t mean that what we do should be complex!
People, Process and Technology
To keep on the “simple” approach, I advise that you operate your business on three key principles—People, Process, and Technology. When you get all of these in sync, you can boost how you deliver value and leverage your outcomes. Think about it. People are needed in your business to get things done – whether it be employees, contractors, or outsourcing. Then, you have processes in your business, and these might be documented or not, but there is still a way things get done in your company, right? And finally, you have the Technology element. This pertains to your computers, networks, software, etc.
When you approach the Technology aspect in your business, it is never just about looking at “the technology” per se. It’s also crucial that you look at the people and processes involved and how these two relate to Sales, Operations, and Finance. In each of these areas, along with each of the operating principles, you need to seek “alignment.” There needs to be a seamless integration. This may be in the form of using technology to improve a process to make your team more productive or automate an operation to free up your team to be more efficient and produce better outcomes.
Think about your business for a moment. It doesn’t matter if you’re an accountant, financial advisor, or manufacturer. Think about a process in your business and what outcome it produces, and then ask yourself how to generate more of that (the good ones, of course!)
Technology And My Business
Let me give you an example. In my business, a core outcome for us is to deliver fast client response and resolution of issues. I have a team in place. I have processes in place (some documented, others not), but then I want to produce more quality resolutions in a shorter amount of time. I could add more people, I could certainly improve the process, but should I automate or streamline it using technology?
Using technology is a much smarter investment over the long term than adding another person to the process. Improving the process will also deliver better outcomes, and also ensure the technology is more effective. At some point, however, I will need to add more people. Still, the return on that investment will be much better if I want to maximise it without breaking the outcome.
As you can see, technology is a core component of your business. However, without understanding how your people and processes fit into that, it will be a challenging task to drive value. Digital Transformation is not just about technology. It’s also about how technology can enable your people and streamline your processes. And When People, Process, and Technology intersect, that’s where things get really exciting!