Methodology before Technology

Why would I write about methodology in a technology blog? In many cases, technology is not your problem – it’s methodology, or should I say a lack of methodology, that is really causing you the problem.

Technology is used throughout a business and in each area there is a standard methodology or a body of practices, procedures, and rules used by those who work in that particular discipline.  This disciplinecould be sales, marketing, accounts payable, accounts receivable, cash management, order processing, inventory control, human resources, business intelligence and the list goes on and on.

Ideally, you want to discover and use what is referred to as best practices for that discipline or field.  Many of you might be saying – Duh!  Yeah, it might sound like common sense – actually, it probably is common sense, but I will tell you that I have seen my fair share of companies, from small businesses to Fortune 100 companies that ignored this common sense.

For example, I see many companies rush out and buy software to create scorecards and dashboards.  Yet, they don’t have a methodology on which to utilize those scorecards.  Sure, they end up with pretty web pages with traffic lights and gauges as the following scorecard illustrates.

But what do the red, yellow, green colors really signify?  What should be done when the colors change?  What should be done if the colors don’t change?  Is there a cause-effect relationship between two or more traffic lights?  What is that relationship?

If a methodology such as Balanced Scorecard was adopted prior to implementing the scorecard project, one would be in a much better position to answer the above questions.

Similarly, let’s say a company decided to implement a new CRM(Customer Relationship Management) system.  There are several CRM systems on the market that have best practices built into them.  Companies that don’t necessarily have a strong methodology in place might consider purchasing a CRM system with the intention of implementing its proven practices.  There is nothing wrong with that, however if the methodology employed by the CRM is vastly different from the methodology employed by your company, you will benefit by first understanding the methodology and training your workers on it, prior to implementing the new technology.  Otherwise you will most likely end up with too much change and a failed deployment.

Technology can be a powerful business differentiator especially when it is powering a best-of-breed methodology.  I think you will find the time invested in understanding the methodology and training your users on it will give you a much higher ROI on your technology investment.

In future posts, I will share more examples of methodologies and have some of my business associates share their best-of-breed practices in various fields.  Let me know if there are certain fields that are of interest so we can cover those.

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