A colleague recently recounted a story to me from his own past. It had to do with a failing business. The company had numerous issues, in the areas of acquisition and execution, of revenue and of profit. The issues had gotten so out of hand that the company was on the verge of closing its operations entirely. In a last ditch effort to turn the company around, the company’s president initiated a series of process-improvement projects. The hope was that the results of these projects would provide the necessary impetus to pull the company out of its tailspin and provide a foundation for its revitalization. Moreover, the president had democratically distributed the projects across the organization–one for each department. As we all know, projects consume resources, and not all of the selected projects were of the same potential impact to the company. As such, lower-impact projects ended up pulling away resources from some of the mission-critical areas of the business, areas that had been suffering the most. Ironically, the attempted intervention had made things worse.
In one telling instance, the HR department had been tasked with implementing a new HR management system. The HR and IT staff dutifully went through the implementation cycle, soliciting requirements, selecting software, configuring the application and converting data. Leads, supervisors, and managers spent their free time logging employee metadata into the new system. And all of this occurred while the company missed shipments, struggled with quality issues, and scrambled to get new orders, while key employees fled to their competitors. The HR department rolled out its new system shortly before the announcement that the company’s assets were being dissolved. While the company overall was a disaster, the HR project was a ringing success, and when it came time to terminate the company’s staff, they were able to use the new HR system to efficiently and effectively carry the task through to its macabre conclusion.
That is, the HR department had won the proverbial shuffleboard game on the deck of the Titanic.
In my own career, I’ve encountered a few folks who were winning deck games on a sinking ship. And like my friend’s story, the game they were winning had nothing to do with the water that the ship was taking on. This seems to be a common failing business mistake, in general. During good times or bad, failing businesses more often focus their efforts on the wrong areas, and because of this, the efforts of their best employees go underutilized. Failing businesses also make the mistake of democratic project selection. Instead of business planning strategies involving a hard analysis of the key pain points in the business, management adopts generic strategies that try to support the general betterment of the company, while in truth, they are diluting their efforts with low-impact initiatives. Other times, failing companies exhibit the tendency to chase random rabbits down their burrows, mistaking the thrill of the chase for the value of the bounty. Quite often the least successful companies are also the nicest–they avert stepping on toes and pointing out obvious issues. Had they been on the Titanic, they would have been the ones to reclassify the iceberg as an upright collection of water molecules, the gaping breech in the hull as an additional sprinkler system, and would have continued with their polite game on the upper deck while the water levels rose.
In looking back at these situations, it is hard not to see this as a failure of leadership. The leaders of the company are the ones who truly have the ability to steer a company in one direction or another. Often, the direction is as simple as the projects that the company chooses to execute over a given year. But the projects selected quite often serve to have the most impact on the company’s ultimate destination.
But one might ask just what kind of business planning strategies separate leaders who safely pull their ships into harbor from the ones that send them to Davy Jones’ locker. While there are probably a number of reasonable answers to the above question, I would contend that the most successful managers from my own past were buoyant due, among other things, to their knowledge of their industry. The best managers obsess about the workings of their business, and the industry in which it resides, and base their business planning strategies and a vast and well-integrated understating of the dynamics of the environment in which their company competes.
To put it simply, there is no replacement for domain-knowledge. The best leaders I have worked with understand this principle. No leader is an expert in all areas, but when good leaders assume leadership of a company, they immediately dive into a phase of learning–about the business, its culture, its business climate, the market conditions, and whatever additional factors are required to allow the leader to be able to make good decisions. And once this knowledge has been amassed, the leaders go about applying their knowledge to their business planning strategies. They make an honest assessment of the company, its opportunities, and its issues. And in response, they make decisions that drive how the company’s limited resources are to be sequestered, to address issues or take advantage of opportunities.
And their decisions tend to be the better ones. Far away from the shuffleboard deck, they are at the helm, altering course to avoid the bergs and burglars that would threaten their business. The worst managers I’ve encountered take the opposite approach–they tout the importance of surrounding themselves with good people, while they themselves are often missing in action, preferring instead to galivant about town, wining and dining the city’s elite, seeking to impress, when they should be impressive, seeking to woo when they should be working. While I certainly do not question the importance of a manager building a first-rate team, it takes leadership and involvement to collect, engage, and focus the individual talent in the right direction. And the inability to make good directional decisions, to guide these good people, generally results from the leaders’ inadequate preparation and/or dedication to his or her craft.
To return to the title of this post–if the captain of the ship is wasting his time winning games of shuffleboard, the crew will flounder, and ultimately, the ship will founder. So contact the EstesGroup today, and take advantage of our business process review, management, and improvement services.
During the rush to select, acquire, and implement an ERP application, companies often license modules that they do not end up utilizing by the time cutover rolls around. Once the booming, buzzing confusion of going live has diminished, companies frequently review their suite of modules to determine whether some second phase enhancements can be implemented, both to benefit their organizations and to make use of the money spent on licensure. Epicor’s Service Connect application often falls into this second-phase category. It is not uncommon for Epicor customers, fresh off an implementation, to come to us and ask, “So we own Service Connect—now what is it good for?”
Service Connect is a multi-purpose tool in which a user can automate business processes and create application integrations to aid a business in its day-to-day processing. By using documents as its primary interface, Service Connect can convert data from one application into a form another application (or internal process) can understand. It uses industry-wide technologies to exchange information between applications or business processes based on data mappings and data manipulation.
A business may benefit from the use of Service Connect for many reasons. Some reasons include:
To automate an internal process by removing the human interaction from a process. For example, a company might use Service Connect to automate the entry of a Sales Order, based on an external trigger, or have the lines of a Sales Order automatically ship when the Sales Order has been closed.
To have one application pass information to another application, in order for the second application to process the data. An example of this would be billing information from a project tracking application to an accounting application. This would allow Accounting to bill for services rendered on the project.
To respond back to an application with updated data after a business process has been completed. This would keep two unrelated applications in sync. For example, if an item were to be requested to be shipped in an inventory application, the data would be passed to a shipping application to be shipped, then once shipped the tracking number would be returned to the inventory application.
To send emails requesting tasks be executed before another step of a business process can be completed. An example of this would be sending an email to a Purchase Order manager to approve a Purchase Order over a specific amount.
To assign tasks to be completed to users, to help manage the flow of a business process. By using Service Connect Task Monitor, instead of emails, a task can be assigned to a specific user and the business process halted until the user completes the task. This could be used for setting up project service billings approvals or Personal Time Off requests.
The automation and orchestration capabilities of Service Connect improve processes within the Epicor application and improve interactions between the Epicor application and other applications. Customers in need of such capabilities find that by dusting off their Service Connect license and connecting with some skilled partners, they can extend the scope of their enterprise application and yield tangible business benefits in so doing. The Estes Group has a wide breadth and depth of experience in Service Connect, and has been helping customers to get the most out of their investment. Looking to take your enterprise application to the next level? Come check us out—we’d love to talk with you and see what’s possible.
You’ll probably use IMAP4 instead of POP3, as it keeps your mail on the server, ready to be consumed by more than one device. If you have only one computer that you are checking email with, then POP3 is OK, as long as you don’t mind all your email being on your one device and NOT on the server! If you remove mail from the server, then it’s your responsibility to back it up.
Many folks are installing intended software on their PC’s, but what they might not realize is that often adware is bundled in with it! So, along with a good Adobe Flash player, you end up with a new homepage, another toolbar and maybe even a PUP! (Potentially unwanted program)
Here’s some popular applications and the place to get the program, and just the program.