If you did any traveling over the holidays, you no doubt got ensnared in some type of bottleneck. Whether you drove, flew or took a train, the sheer mass of travelers most likely caused a headache or two in the process of getting from A to B. If you lead any type of business, this was probably a familiar frustration. Bottlenecks become weak links and impact speed-to-market, and that is far costlier than a traffic jam.
Process bottlenecks became evident at one of our customers, a global manufacturing company, during the process of implementing SAP. This was a significant investment and multi-faceted undertaking. A data management team was increasingly being viewed as a weak link within their product setup process. There was missing and unclear data, routing issues, lack of standardization around data rules, errors in manual entry and lack of visibility, all of which were putting speed-to-market at risk. In short, the data management team was becoming a weak link… a bottleneck. In order to change perception, become more efficient, and succeed in the eyes of the business, it was necessary to improve process and eliminate capacity constraints which were causing these challenges.
From experience, I know that at some point within any workflow there will be a team viewed as a weak link causing a bottleneck. Unfortunately, when the problems are addressed for one specific team, there is usually a new problem for another team to take its place.
A master data management workflow solution was the right prescription to improve the workflow within the data management team who, of course, was a part of a much larger overall one. At the project’s successful completion, we agreed that one direct result was that the workflow “microscope” was now shifting its focus to a different organization within the business. Like a long highway with various clogged exit points, we freed up one jam only to see more up ahead.
Regardless of industry, fixing one weak link won’t fix your overall workflow. It only improves it to the point where the next bottleneck occurs. But you do have to pick a place to start and this should be the place where you can make the biggest impact within the shortest amount of time. That said, this decision needs to be made as a part of an overall strategy.
Part of this is leadership from the business and from IT. When both work to ensure the uniformity, accuracy, stewardship, semantic consistency and accountability of the enterprise’s official shared master data assets, links are strengthened.
When consistent processes are in place, a data management team can provide continuous high quality service to the business. This means clarity around services that are provided to the business and the ability to make decisions based on tangible data points. When it’s time to measure success, a solid master data management solution will help you do so consistently.
So while I’m pretty sure you will hit more traffic jams as you travel in life, I can say with confidence that the traffic jams you hit in data management can be greatly reduced with the right solution for your team. Those bottlenecks certainly don’t have to turn into the weakest link.
Don’t want your team to be the weakest link? Tell us how we can help.