Focusing on Pupose, People and Process is key to implementing data-driven solutions in service organizations

When it comes to implementing data and knowledge solutions, it is Purpose, People and Process that most service professionals are focused on. That was the feedback from the  Service Leaders Network experience exchange in April where 15 professionals shared their experiences of implementing these types of solutions into their operational processes.

Hosted by Si2Partners, these virtual experience exchanges are limited in attendees in order to promote intensive discussion and then coming together to review lessons learned.

To get the attendees thinking, we first reviewed a framework developed during a SLN collaboration project. For more on this see our article https://serviceinindustry.com/2021/03/08/a-knowledge-and-data-implementation-framework/

The results were fascinating for all professional who may have these projects on their desks.

Two common themes ran through all groups:

 

 

 

  1. Purpose is key: It is so important to be able to define a clear value driven objective for the project to not only give it a clear direction, but also to be able to communicate to and get commitment from stakeholders. Although this may appear to be a very basic project management skill, we heard numerous war-stories that this is often where managers have the most challenges.
  2. People are the enabler: We heard a variety of reasons why both employees and customers are critical enablers as well as some tips for engaging with both these groups:
    1. Make it easy for people to use solutions. A good example would be to tailor data visualizations to individual needs
    2. Knowledge/data projects are often part of a wider change management process. So explaining the reason for data and process within the context of the larger change is important to communicating the WHY to employees and customers.
    3. Change often requires the development of new digital capabilities & knowledge. This should be actively managed. Make sure you have a budget!
    4. When talking about people don’t forget the customer! Communicate value of the data and what you are doing with it to your customer.
    5. Successfully incorporating data and knowledge into processes is a team game. This needs to be stressed as part of any communication plan.

What was surprising was that there was only one group who talked about the importance of documenting the process, so as to integrate the data & knowledge solution into the organization’s way of working. They mentioned that the fact that how the solution works within the company has been thought through and is accompanied by training, is an important factor in overcoming the key challenge of how to get your people to do the actions required for successful implementation.

Having an understanding of the nature of the data to be used was not mentioned at all. Whether this is because the professionals in the discussion were mainly from operational backgrounds and so were not too concerned with knowledge application, or perhaps we did not allow enough time for the discussion. Either way this appears to be an interesting follow-on conversation to have and we will be organizing another experience exchange on this topic in the coming months.

 Other comments and lessons learned when implementing Knowledge and Data Solutions were:

  • Future proof the tools you are using.
  • It’s not just about changing operational processes, management processes also need to change. Hence change management is a key element of any project especially the impact of organizational culture on the outcome.
  • Don’t underestimate the effort required within field support processes such as installation, commissioning and problem solving.

 A couple of days after this experience exchange, we had an opportunity to have a deeper conversation with professionals from a very large industrial technology business about the implementation of a corporate learning program. Although they are in the early days of their project, a very similar emphasis was seen. First get clarity on ‘why do the project’ and ‘what is its value’. Then you can start to identify about where you get the expertise from within the organization to deliver a sophisticated data solution. And don’t forget the people implications. Their observations were that only too often project teams miss one of these areas which slows down the implementation and in the worst case leads to failure.

 If you want to know more the Knowledge and Data Implementation framework, then you can contact nick.frank@si2partners.com and he can support you with engaging workshops that will help you and your team identify how to integrate data into your business processes. Si2 also have run a series of workshops that help service professionals become more data savvy. To date more than 200 professionals have participated in these programs which aim to raise the bar in terms of how to use data.

Want to know more about your own skills, take this very short 4 question self-assessment using this link: https://si2partners.outgrow.us/Data-Savvy-professional