One of the most powerful slogans of our time is “Do more with less”. Everyone is being challenged to increase productivity and value while accepting reductions in budgets – or, at best, static budgets. Technology is a lever that can help produce this outcome. Automated processes are cheaper, more reliable, and less prone to fatigue, than human ones.
But there's a simpler strategy which can also raise throughput, improve quality, and generate higher customer satisfaction. This is simply to “Do less”. Huh? Well, what I mean is that every organization needs to take a long, hard look at its processes and eradicate those which aren't adding value. This means looking not just at the formal processes, but also what people really do. You will find unnecessary duplication and delay. You'll find bottlenecks where some individual or team has to take a decision whose methods and parameters are unrecorded. You may even find dead letter offices where difficult cases go to die.
This is “systems analysis”. The growth of IT systems tended to eclipse this meaning of systems analysis, which is all to do with what actually happens in a piece of business, rather than how a computer might be able to help out. But just as hardware and software developed, so too did analysis and its sister discipline, design.
Today, the kind of hard scrutiny of processes that enables organizations to do less is articulated and enacted in standards. Standards are design artefacts that provide stable architectures for the business areas they address, and which solve typical problems people have encountered in these areas.
Standards simplify. They enable you to do less of the pointless stuff, the habitual make-work and re-work which too many of us put up with. And IT solutions based on industry standards will ensure that wasteful processes are not converted into fast wasteful processes.