In many organizations, every member has a different opinion and it seems that theirs is always the right one. Many teams will do one of two things when it’s time to make a challenging decision – sit and wait until everyone is in consensus before making a move, or make a decision without anyone’s input. How do you find balance and compromise in order to take the best action?
The reality is that everyone’s opinion counts, especially when translating business workflow to an online database application, because every team’s work is intertwined with another group’s work. For example, one team may input data that another team only views in the form of reports to make business decisions. When you implement change in an organization, what’s most important is that you understand what’s at stake and find ways to make it all work. What may be important for one stakeholder, may not matter for another. So how do you solve for the disunity?
Mapping the Triangle
When we work with clients who are creating business process applications, we ask them to step back and walk through a critical step that many organizations miss before they build and deploy: ensuring that they consider what we emphasize as three, key areas of business process – Management, Operations, and Support.
We at Sympo call this framework a “buy-in triumvirate” or triangle of stakeholders. Each side touches two others; none operates in isolation. By evaluating each of these areas in advance of building an application that any one of these teams needs to manage their work, you’ll be able to make decisions about what to include and exclude from your application design in a way that fits as many requirements – harmoniously – as possible. We find that user adoption increases and the application is effective from the get-go. If any stakeholder is not included in the planning, designing, and implementation stages, then not only will your application be incomplete, but these stakeholders will think your software purchase wasn’t as impactful as you may have promoted it to be.
Example of the Effectiveness of Mapping
We had a client come to us with a need for a CRM application. They had a nationwide sales team that was constantly in the field. They would fall into our “operations” side of the triangle. They needed to be able to access information while on the road, as well as easily update their sales leads. This seemed easy enough, and we could build an application that would meet their desktop and mobile needs. However, considering the triangle: we asked what executive level expectations (management) were of the sales team. They were in a highly complex hierarchy, and executives were looking for summaries of the sales team’s pipeline on a weekly, monthly, and annual basis – items the sales reps hadn’t considered since they were only concerned about managing their leads on a one-to-one basis. In addition, the administrative assistants (support side of the triangle) needed to see weekly reports that weren’t part of the CRM.
If the sales team had progressed with just the basic CRM to manage their individual leads, the application would not have served the needs of the management or the support team. The sales team wouldn’t have gained the buy-in it needed to serve their other stakeholders. After they gathered their requirements, designed an application to meet all stakeholder needs, and deployed the application, the client found that it was so beneficial to their business, they decided to build additional applications to serve the needs of other departments that were managing data such as:
· An application to manage third party partners that were geographically spread across the nation and needed a CRM of their own.
· A turn-key, executive application that allowed upper management and executives to quickly see KPI’s and summary reports of the different divisions they manage.
· An application that allows distributors, who are located all over the U.S., to quickly submit requests to the company online. The application will replace the manual processes of faxing papers and calling in orders, which has been a heavy burden on administrative staff and leaves room for error.
Closing the Loop
When you begin the path of creating a online database application, be sure to clearly understand and map out your business process. They may have different requirements or expectations that you may not be aware of and they may enter or interact with data differently than you. At minimum, it will allow them the opportunity to contribute ideas towards the success of the application. In addition, there may be data that could give you greater visibility in to your business that you may not have thought of previously. Also, be sure to gather any and all documents such as reports and spreadsheets. Look for data that overlaps, how it is derived, and if other departments (stakeholders) contribute to that information.
Through dialogue and understanding others’ needs, your application will have greater success because others will have investment in it and feel they were a part of the building effort. Think of your business process as a triangle and each side touches two others – management, operations, and support. You can’t have one without the other two. Lastly, invest time in understanding how users function on a daily basis. QuickBase is there to make their lives easier, not harder. The number one thing we’ve learned in development is to never assume you know without asking. The more questions you ask, the better your application will be and the less likely you’ll be to throw in the towel.