You’ve set your goals, identified the problems standing in the way of achieving those goals, and zeroed in on the root causes of those problems. Now comes the time to plan the actions you’ll take. Even though we’re close to the end of the process, it’s important to stay focused on this next step and not jump ahead.
A lot of good work has been done and you’ll likely be able to plan the next set of steps and move on, but it’s still possible that yet more problems will arise which you’ll have to deal with before you achieve your goals.
Methodical progress is the surest way to achieve meaningful, lasting change in a company’s back office environment and improve customer satisfaction.
Specific Solutions for Specific Root Problems
The bulk of your plans will involve ways to remove the already identified root causes. However, ancillary issues may appear which also need fixing as you move through your list. Ancillary problems are rarely threatening to the company’s long-term goals, but if their impact is great enough, they may need to be dealt with first. It is important that you don’t let these pull you from the primary cause(s) of your problems though. Doing so would hinder your progress forward.
Planning a campaign
Effecting change to a company’s back office, ERP systems, or managed IT services is much like going to war. Troops cannot simply attack pell-mell. Airplanes and ships must transport them. Support troops supplying food, ammunition, and transportation must be sent in advance or concurrently. Almost every decision impacts multiple areas.
Likewise, customer satisfaction will only increase when the root cause analysis helps identify:
- Who will do what
- With whom
- In what time frames
- Using what resources and people
- How will the incremental improvements and changes affect the company over time
- What may need to be changed, delayed, or terminated as a result of these changes
Laying down a plan of attack requires that all levels of a company—just like all levels of an army—are aware of their roles and actively supporting the plan. Everything is written down. Nothing is left to be intuited or figured out by context.
The Domino Effect
Each problem is the result of a specific cause. By fixing them the company as a whole will consequently change. The fixes must, therefore, include ways to keep the company from returning to its old ways.
Just as when laying out dominoes, one must be aware of the position and projected the effect of each domino, but also how it fits into the grand scheme of the design. You must be able to switch between the big picture and the individual details as necessary.
Solutions Are Not Singular
It’s rare that there is only one possible solution to your problem. Be open to a solution that works even if it might not be perfect. Perfect is the enemy of good.
Implementing a solution does not mean that it can’t be improved upon. Solutions are not static. Evaluate and revise, improving your solution continually.
Sometimes, despite having the best of plans, a project simply won’t be finished in time or won’t achieve your entire goal when finished. If either of these is the case, then you’ll need to be ready with backup plans.
Discuss the ramifications with your team and determine if partial or delayed success is acceptable in the short term. Then discuss what steps need to be added to ensure complete success and in what updated time frame.
A good plan doesn’t require foregoing every other duty you have. Generally, it’s a matter of hours over the course of a few weeks. The actual implementation of your plan is where the bulk of the time will be spent to improve your company’s back office and increasing customer satisfaction.
However, as mentioned above it’s important to take the time to first design an effective plan. If you give into the temptation to begin execution—so much work has already been done, after all—you run the risk of not just exacerbating the problem, but changing it enough that you’ll have to start from scratch.