You Can't Be a Little Bankrupt: Determining the Need for Conforming or Strategic Applications

You Can't Be a Little Bankrupt: Determining the Need for Conforming or Strategic Applications
A person can’t be a little bit bankrupt; they are either bankrupt or not.

A person can't be a little bit bankrupt; they are either bankrupt or not. This simple 'binary' assessment can help you decide if you need a conforming or strategic application.

You have a business problem, and are looking around for a solution to that problem. What should I be looking for? What capabilities do I really need to give the most value to?

While pondering on this interesting subject, my mind cast back many years ago to my time as a supervisor at a contact center. As young managers, we were given the important task of mentoring our teams, and making them better at their jobs. One of the 'tools' that we used to focus this mentoring in an effective way was the concept of 'Standards and Expectations'. A standard is something that has a 'yes' or 'no' answer. It's either you did or did not do the 'thing' under review, use the customer's name, deliver the opening salutation correctly, or give correct information. Yep, it's that simple. It's a “yes” or “no” answer that's unambiguous.

Expectations were another 'kettle of fish'. Expectations had elements of growth and improvement. There was an 'expectation' that if you have been there five years, it would be 'expected' that you do a better job at this task than if the ink were still drying on your contract! This might be things like offering great advice, or in my case of debt collecting, focus on negotiating a great payment plan for the customer.

When deciding what capabilities are needed in order to gain the most value in a system, I need to take the same approach I did as a young manager. Some systems are like standards; they either do or do not do a job. These might be things like 'manage payroll' or 'manage personnel'. These systems can largely be assessed with simple 'yes' or 'no' answers. They are identified as my conforming applications. They either can or cannot perform the task required. These are fundamental to the operation of my business, but will not help me achieve my growth ambitions or digital transformation.

This gets me to thinking about expectations. My business needs to excite my customers, grow, innovate, and improve. For this to happen, I need applications that can continuously improve, and allow me to embody the vision and mission of my company with a strategic advantage. I need business applications that deliver on the expectation that my performance can be even better with the passing of time. For many of us, continuous improvement is in our DNA. To fully realize this potential, we have to look at 'expectations' and give highest value to things other than the 'yes' or 'no' functionalities. We need to give higher value to capabilities that will support our ambition to be better. These are what true strategic applications should be.


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