In a great article, Four Principles for Managing Technology Transformation, by Loren Mahon we learn first hand how she has dealt with the challenges of disruptive technology at Oracle for nearly 20 years while at the same time keeping on top of day to day operations. Mahon leads a team at Oracle focused on driving a strategy centered on four guiding principles to manage transformational change: Simplify, Standardize, Centralize, and Automate. According to Mahon, you follow these steps in that order again and again.
Mahon cautions that complexity can derail your success with regard to transformation. She advises you take the best practice approach and simplify the process where you can. She states “The more intricate your processes, systems, organizations, workflows or decision-making are, the more time, effort and money you’ll spend on maintaining that status quo. That is why simplification is such a critical first step.” A word of caution though is to take a stand and make a change as you can’t possibly move forward toward a simplified best practice if you’re too caught up in trying to refine your process. You may have to accept something less than perfect.
Step two in her approach is to standardize. We can all appreciate that getting everybody on the same page is a good thing and will result in a positive return on investment, but when people are entrenched in a certain way of doing things, change often isn’t met with open arms.
At Oracle, standardization means getting IT and process owners on the business side working together toward a common way of doing things. The process owners are responsible for the finding where they can standardize and IT’s role is to figure out how to support it with technology, while limiting customizations.
With processes standardized, you then have the opportunity to centralize them resulting in cost savings and efficiencies. Mahon cites an example of how expense reports are processed today at Oracle, everyone uses the same software and follows the same process. She states “The cost savings are enormous, but more importantly, the efficiencies allow our finance teams to spend less time on routine tasks and more time providing guidance to the business.”
Take a look at where you can automate your processes to gain a competitive edge. Mahon says Oracle embraces self-service whenever possible when automating a process. Not only do employees prefer it, but the efficiencies are clear.1
Now Do it Over and Over
Mahon leaves us with some great advice. “Make change a part of your culture. Don’t undertake a transformative project, look around, and say, ‘Great job, everyone. Now we’re done.’ You’re never done — because the business environment is never done changing.
Simplify. Standardize. Centralize. Automate. And then do it over, and over, and over again, every day of your career. If you’re like me, these four steps will start you on a more rewarding career path than you ever could have imagined.”