Software systems are part of an auto repair shop environment and need to be managed just like any other part of the business. Systems are a little different in that they act as support mechanisms for business processes. So managing systems involves viewing them as part of other areas of the business. Processes and procedures within a business are interdependent. Systems that support those processes share the same interdependencies as well as the integrated relationship with the areas of business they support. Managing a system means monitoring the relationship between the software and the processes it supports and resolving disconnects and inefficiencies. This may involve system changes, process changes or both. The goal is to achieve maximum effectiveness in organizational work flow.
Efficiency is doing better what is already being done … Peter Drucker
Evaluating Process Effectiveness
The ability of a system to support a business process is reflected in how efficiently the business process runs as well as how tight the dependency between system and process are. If there are steps in the process that take place outside the system the relationship between system and process could be tighter. It’s important to view this in terms of normal workflow and not base the evaluation on exceptions. The process may need to be changed to better fit the system or the system may need to be changed to better fit the process. The objective is to arrive at a point where the process and system are as tightly integrated as possible.
Evaluating Inter-Process Support
In the development and delivery of any product or service there are points at which processes end and others start. The relationship between the system and these transition points can significantly impact operational efficiency. If a process ends and the next phase is initiated by a trigger outside the system then the integration is weak or the overall process is not well defined. For example, if a service advisor completes creating a repair order then prints it and stages it for the technician to pick up, the link between processes is outside the system and there is a disconnect between phases in the repair order fulfillment process. If the initiation of work by the technician is triggered by the system there is tight integration and work flow from phase to phase is supported by the software. The tighter the integration the more efficient the work flow will be.
Working toward tighter integration between process and system should always be focused on achieving improved efficiencies. Changes should be made in small increments and fully absorbed before more changes are initiated. And once changes are made, they should be evaluated for effectiveness. When adjustments are complete, new opportunities can be sought out.
Reaching for Excellence
Improving the relationship between process and system should be continuous. Achieving and sustaining a high level of integration require diligence on the part of management. Business circumstances will change and processes and their support systems need to be adjusted accordingly. In order to be competitive and offer excellent service a tight relationship between process and system is essential.