The mission critical nature of technology in the enterprise has elevated the status of the IT department, which is gaining influence in shaping enterprise business strategy and company culture. However, the inverse is also true.
Due to the inter-connectedness between business strategy and IT strategy, decisions made at the business model or company culture-level are increasingly impacting IT’s effectiveness. As a result, dysfunction at the business model level significantly impacts enterprise-wide technology implementations, including SharePoint deployments. However, the dysfunction will typically surface as a technical problem rather than a business or cultural problem, making the source of the problem difficult to identify and correct.
Dysfunction in your company’s business model or culture will negatively impact an enterprise software deployment; however, the dysfunction will often be viewed as a technical problem first. The success or failure of your SharePoint deployment depends upon your ability to build a healthy business model and culture.
Diagnosing dysfunction in your business model or culture requires that you have a working model with which to measure health versus dysfunction. If the core elements of a business model are missing or poorly implemented in your company, your entire organization, including its enterprise software deployments, will suffer.
Fortunately, the inverse is also true. If the core elements of a full business model exist within your organization and are implemented in a healthy way, you'll find that your enterprise software deployments will be healthier as well.
Take a moment and compare your organization’s business model with the healthy business model described below to uncover possible areas of dysfunction that might surface during a SharePoint deployment. The elements of a good business model include a core ideology, a vision, a mission, core processes and a governance strategy, all of which have a direct impact on your technology implementations.
A core ideology is comprised of a company's purpose statement and set of core values. It should be transcendent and timeless. The purpose statement is the company's reason for existing beyond making money. The purpose statement provides a common focus for the organization. It serves as the foundation for strategic planning and is often a guide for the allocation of limited resources, but, most importantly, the purpose statement gives meaning to daily activities for employees.
The core values define a company’s identity, set it apart from the competition, serve as a rallying point for employees, and reflect what people believe in and consider important within the organization. Core values are translated into behavioral statements, and so they identify expectations for individual behavior. Business priorities are also decided based upon an organization’s core values.
If your company lacks a core ideology, employees will instinctively seek to fill the gap by formulating their own purpose for the company and inserting their own values. If SharePoint is implemented in an environment with an undefined purpose and a lack of core values, it is inevitable that the various teams will use SharePoint in ways consistent with their own conclusions, often ignoring or not caring how their use of the software may be misaligned with the company’s business objectives and goals.
This will include disparities in how information is managed within SharePoint. When conflicts arise as to the use of SharePoint, many will immediately blame SharePoint for creating the conflict instead of understanding that the software is surfacing problems that originate in higher levels of the business model. An established purpose statement and set of core values can help employees put aside their individual agendas and see technology as a set of tools that enable them to work toward a common goal.
Once an organization understands why it exists, it's time for that organization to define where it wants to go in the future. This is a company’s vision. A vision is a long-term view of the course an organization will take over the next five to ten years.
The development of a vision statement is an ongoing process due to the adjustments that need to be made as short-term goals are either achieved or not achieved. The vision statement is under frequent, but not constant, development. The vision of the organization should be something that is achievable, but it is also something the organization isn't doing today. There is a necessary tension that is created between the future desired state and the present state when effective visions are realistic, credible and attractive.
If a clear vision is absent, short-term plans tend to meander or randomize, causing a loss of focus and increased overhead costs to the organization. As a result, various projects and plans begin to work against each other, and conflicts arise concerning resources, schedules, roles or personnel decisions.
A SharePoint implementation in a visionless company will result in shortsighted point solutions that may be in conflict with other existing platforms and not account for the long-term effects SharePoint will have on general operations.
Especially troubling is when an enterprise software platform is implemented as a point solution. Doing so might solve a problem in the short-term, but it often threatens the organization's operations in the long-term due to the software’s capabilities to perform other tasks – tasks that might be redundant to existing systems.
The mission of an organization expresses the organization’s short-term goals and is pulled directly from the vision of the organization. Ideally, if you have a vision plan for ten years with metrics and milestones for each of those ten years, then year one in your vision plan becomes your mission plan.
The mission statement should be expressed in two basic formats: A) opportunities to pursue, and B) problems to resolve. Solving problems and pursuing opportunities is often two sides of the same coin. In order to pursue opportunities, existing problems often need to be solved.
This is where a SharePoint deployment will often enter the picture. Managers may assume a new technology, such as SharePoint, will solve all of their business problems. However, the root of the business problems has to be identified first to determine if a technology implementation is even the right solution.
In every organization there are four core processes :
- Value Creation
The value creation process expresses what the organization must do in order to create value for its customers and profits for the company. The strategy process is an ongoing process of carrying out the vision while taking into account changes in markets, customers, economic conditions, regulatory changes and abilities within the organization.
The people process evaluates individuals accurately and in-depth. It provides a framework for identifying and developing leadership talent at all levels. An operating plan includes the programs your business is going to achieve within one year of your business cycle to reach the desired levels of such objectives as earnings, sales, margins and cash flow, along with a marketing and sales plan that takes advantage of market opportunities.
If SharePoint is being used to support one or more of these four core processes of an organization, even if it's only a portion of one of the processes, the dysfunction is likely to surface as a technology problem.
Governance and Compliance
A healthy business model will include a governance and compliance strategy that minimizes risk. Every organization has threats to its success and existence. These threats, or risks, form the foundation for implementing compliance and governance within the organization.
Risks not only exist at the global layers of core ideology and vision, but they also exist at every level of the business model. However, they are expressed differently at the various layers. For example, upper management may identify a strategic threat to a product line because of new technology that has been adopted at a competitor company.
At the operational level, there are other risks that often involve a lack of process, lack of training, or conflicting agendas within teams, departments or divisions. These risks may surface as dysfunction during a SharePoint deployment.
For instance, if an organization lacks a strong ethic in how information is managed, critical information can be lost inside SharePoint, even if the search feature is turned on and working properly. When information is not properly organized, information can easily be lost or precious time can be spent recreating content that already exists, resulting in both inefficient processes and redundant production costs.
The core elements of a healthy business model, as outlined above, are the same as what they have been for hundreds of years, yet problems at the core business level are often misidentified as technology issues. Organizations will always need clarity on core ideology, values, vision, mission and governance/risk/compliance (GRC). Dysfunction can surface from a business model or culture that is not properly managed.
Before you blame your enterprise software for newly created problems as a result of its implementation, look below the surface to see if the problem is rooted in dysfunction within your company’s business model.
Editor's Note: Interested in reading more on building a company culture? Try Hyoun Park'sGetting Started with Social Business: Building the Culture