Being strategic means thinking intentionally and deliberately about your organization. That includes considering the impacts of any system change. Unfortunately, management consultants are usually called in as a reactive response when a system implementation has not been successful from an operational perspective. When the staff is not prepared for the changes an implementation brings or the revenue cycle is adversely affected, you are going to have an operational impact. Using the strategic thinking process as a proactive way to look at business can minimize downtime and long-term monetary impacts.
If you are the leader responsible for a system change, then most likely you believe you have the answers. We are all guilty of it–we feel we know the answers. But often we don’t slow down long enough to identify the questions or confirm they’re the right questions. Being proactive means asking the right questions before you get started. Why do you need a system change? Who is involved? How will this impact the entire organization? And even more daunting sometimes, how long will it impact the organization? Or, what is the recovery time from this implementation? Asking the important questions ahead of time will make the process much less painful for the implementation team and the end users. Being proactive means you are being strategic from the start. Knowing where you are going with a process will help ensure you lead your organization through a successful implementation.
However, you are not the only one that needs to know the plan! It’s important to make sure your staff is also prepared for the changes that are about to occur. Even if a system implementation is successful from a technical perspective, a system change can never be successful operationally if the staff and other stakeholders are not knowledgeable about and involved in the direction you are taking. Human beings have the tendency to ‘fill in the blanks’ (often with erroneous assumptions) when we don’t understand the direction to which the leader is leading. Proactive staff preparation includes communicating the plan, reasons for the system change, skills needed for the change, and desired results of the change.
Without proper strategy, revenue also can be negatively impacted by a system change. Most organizations can’t afford to stop daily operations while the implementation planning team identifies a problem and its resolution. Regardless of how temporary the work stoppage might be, it is never a good thing when cash flow is negatively impacted by a system change or implementation process. Proactive and strategic thinking requires us to ask questions in advance about what may impact operations. Executive leadership must ensure staff and stakeholders who perform or are affected by a particular function are involved in identifying necessary questions to be asked and contingencies that must be addressed. As much as ‘C-Levels’ may like to think they know everything about their organizational processes, many implementations fail because the right people–those who know the right questions to ask in the first place–are not participants at the planning table.
System implementations always impact business operations within an organization. Thinking strategically helps you proactively, intentionally, and deliberately consider that impact and how to minimize or eliminate any adverse effects. It isn’t enough for the implementation team to think that an implementation has been successful. To be successful for the whole organization, the implementation must be successful operationally.