Process vs. Technology


No amount of technology will address the results of a poorly established or loosely followed process. Accurate analysis relies on clean data. Well defined processes result in clean data. A loosely followed process can result in critical missing data elements, which takes manual intervention in cleaning it up for analysis, wasting valuable time and resources.

Take, for example, the order entry process for a water-cooler manufacturing company that directly sells water coolers to businesses, and installs the product at the sites where the business is located. An invoice is given to the business at the time of sale. The invoice is generated from a Order Entry System with the minimal information required (Customer Name, Product Name, Sale Price, Discount, etc.) but information on the Sales Person(s) associated with the data is not always entered, as it is not “required” data.

Later, at the time of calculating commissions for the Sales Organization, gaps in the data will result. The person responsible for figuring out the Sales Commissions would be running pillar to post trying to figure out who to assign the missing commissions to, perhaps even manually manipulating incoming files for the Commissions report after making the right phone calls, to get it there on time.

Such situations do happen, and much as one would like to throw technology at them, technology is no substitute for tightening up the process that resulted in the situation in the first place, starting by assigning ownership for the process. I ran into a similar situation recently, and the importance of establishing strong processes and strong ownership resonated with me. I am normally not a process-centric thinker, but for once, I appreciated the need for it, as it resulted in data quality issues with a DWBI solution which technology alone just wouldn’t resolve.

4 Comments

  1. Hi Shubho,

    I couldn’t agree more. At many we focus on an ILM (information llifecycle management) approach which is centered around the combination of the right policy, processes and technology.

    Nice post

    Daniel

  2. Shubo,
    I agree with you. When we implement our solution for companies, we ensure that the process is put in place. So, every business unit knows what and when they are expected to do. They also have triggers which remind them of WHY they are using the data.
    I am a big proponent of connecting analytics to business functions based on actionable tasks. The intelligence can then be embedded in a process. If you throw BI and reporting at business users, the typical questions are – when am I supposed to do this? That eventually leads to ‘shelf-ware’.

    J Fisher
    http://www.emcien.com

  3. Agreed…

    And to compound the problem, technology loves to model processes. The more the better. So essentially it becomes a chicken-egg type problem. Start with a good process, add lots of layers on top and in-between, and end up with a bad design.

    -Ralph Winters

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