When Mixing People With Technology, Avoid Quick Fixes
While there are and will continue to be many uncertainties within the ever-changing business world, one truism remains: We are all customers, and for many (if not most) of us that means we want our own personal service representative. We wantand should expectsomeone who knows our needs and is always available and responsible.
Unfortunately, the need to provide these services finds some companies and agencies coming up short, frequently relying on technology to provide such service.
Some within the insurance/financial services community continue to believe that installing a new computer system or making adjustments on the one in place will cure their operational ills. However, new technology and quick fix approaches often give only partial relief from high cost service and productivity problems.
Our organization refers to such approaches as taking a “technological aspirin.” And, as with aspirin, they often treat only symptoms. Costly underlying flaws in jobs and organization structure often go undiagnosed and untreated. Sometimes technological enhancements actually exacerbate underlying weaknesses.
The message within is to avoid superimposing new and expensive technology on a work system with basic flaws in it.
The fact is, operating organizations often germinate and grow like onions. Response to crises tend to create new functions, layer after layer. The result is often enough to make a grown person cry. But, again unfortunately, such “mushroom management” continues to be practiced in some circles as a way to deal with the resulting trouble.
We continue to hear about technological implementation from various sources offering such services. Thats all to the good, of course, but in seeking new product innovations, its paramount to understand before going forth that there is no “perfect system.” And, even if one existed, it would quickly become outdated.
Further realities include the followingall-too-often found within the operations of insurance/financial services organizations:
Fragmented Jobs. Attempts to manage volume and complexity often result in fragmentation of work. Accountability and performance awareness are lost. Then organizations build large departmental empires on those fragmented functions and the problems are magnified. Line of sight to customers and clients is blocked.
Piecemeal Automation. Theres a tendency to automate in departmental pieces, the troubled ones first. The search for departmental fixes often fails to recognize a need for more comprehensive solutions.
Technically Narrow Expertise. It is not common for planners of technical systems to possess knowledge of motivational work design as well. So dont expect solutions that acknowledge both technical aid and human needs from them.
With these warning signs postedand further related to mixing people with technologyheres what organizations should go for to become all they want to be and should be.
The Macro View Of Operations. Diagnose your trouble or need by analyzing work flow and interfaces across the whole spectrum of functions before you decide that a technical fix for any one function is sufficient. Think like your client.
One-Stop Service. Strive to integrate all functions necessary to deliver full service to insureds and clients in a one-stopand ideally personalfashion.
Accountability For The Masses. Full function jobs and departments allow placing clear and substantial accountability for results on individuals up and down the line. Design your work system with that in mind.
Put Tradition To The Test. The period of change induced by technological applications offers a golden opportunity to question and test time-worn habits that may no longer be effective. Seize the opportunity to do so or those habits will be impacted in your new system.