human resources

5 Ways to Use Technology for Business Process Improvement


Implementing technology and improving business processes go hand in hand. Applying new technology and keeping processes the same can hold us back from leveraging the full potential of technology products.  Technology enables business process changes and improvements, provided that we know what the product is capable of.

In a previous post, I talked about things to consider when implementing new technology.  Once we have passed that phase of implementation, there is another phase that looks at how to effectively use the technology that we have.

Business process improvements can occur when new technology is adopted and staff becomes familiar with its potential and can develop various use cases to use it effectively. This usually takes about a year or two, depending on complexity.  Once a comfort level is reached with the technology, it makes sense to think about business processes and how they can improve.

Now let’s see how we can enable process improvements through new or existing technology:

  1. Know the product and its potential. Use the product to know what it is capable of and think about how we can use it in the longer term to ease existing processes and attempt to automate them. We try to get to know the product early during evaluation, but sometimes it takes a certain comfort level to see how it can be beneficial to our business processes. Asking for feedback from several departments across the organization about what they think about the new technology, and how they plan to use it to further automate or meet their needs, is crucial in understanding technology potential.
  2. Ask why. Business processes get created because staff is trying to do the best that they can with the resources that they have. This obviously includes the technology that they are using to get their job done. You ask why things are the way that they are, and they say “that’s the way that I’ve always done it”. Once the technology behind their underlying processes change, eventually people know that their own processes have to change to adapt. At this point, they are open to change, and we can take the opportunity to ask why things are the way that they are, to find potential opportunities for enhancements.
  3. Create ongoing dialogue. Misery loves company. With any new technology, people will be change averse to some level. Getting these people together to talk about what they are going through, any struggles they have, or positive changes that they’ve made, is important in keeping the dialogue open for improvements. This can eventually create a community where they can converse with each other to get the most value out of the product.
  4. Create enthusiasm. Enthusiasm can be contagious, so show how enthusiastic you are to help make people’s lives easier through technology. A way to create enthusiasm is to hold ongoing working group meetings where information is shared across key contacts. This way, there is cross-departmental sharing of information and can maybe even create healthy competition to see who uses the technology to its fullest potential. Engage them in developing new ways to resolve some of the challenges that were talked about earlier during the process.
  5. Sooner is better than later. During implementation, we are focused on getting people to adapt to the technology.  It’s easy to lose sight of how we can use it effectively.  It’s important to make sure that staff doesn’t become complacent using their current business processes and gets comfortable with the way that things are.  We always want to leave the conversation going about how we can improve or change processes based on the technology being implemented.

Purvi Bodawala is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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