Continuous improvement….the key to making the most of the money you spend, your teams resources and Microsoft functionality. All this while increasing user adoption and avoiding a BIG BANG go live. Read on to find out how the Team Sky cycling team used continuous improvement to win gold medals and get us brits our first Tour de France winner.
What is continuous improvement?
The continuous improvement model focuses on the continual improvement of products or services and the processes to provide them. It avoids a big bang go live that are often high risk and cost huge amounts of money.
Continuous improvement is about a commitment to constantly seek incremental improvement over time. But lets face it, this isn’t as sexy as a huge go live after your business case was approved to spend £000,000s…….or is it?
The Team Sky example
Picture the scene, early 2000’s and British cycling had only won 1 gold medal in 76 years! Expectations and the medal tally were low. By 2008 the team had 8 Gold, 4 Silver and 2 bronze in a single games and then did the same in London 2012.
How did they get there?
- Set an audacious goal – Created a long term business plan to be the best in the world by 2012. This plan secured National Lottery funding.
- Put in place a crazy strategy – Team Sky wanted to win the tour de France in 5 years with a clean British rider, then they told world……and handled the ridicule that came with that. (they Won it twice in four years).
- Used continuous improvement to get there – The team incorporated the 1% better method, also called marginal gains technique.
Marginal gains involves the whole team thinking about how to do small things better. For team sky this involved
- Trying a wide range of massage gels for the best muscle recovery.
- Hiring a surgeon to teach the team how to wash their hands to avoid a cold (that would impact training/races).
- Hand picking pillows and mattresses for optimal sleep.
When you link these small improvements to an ambitious goal and an ambitious team great things happen.
What does that mean from a Dynamics/PowerPlatform point of view?
Ok, so Team Sky did some great things with continuous improvement (marginal gains) but what does that mean for you?
At the moment many organisations are struggling with the huge variety of choice between the Microsoft PowerPlatform, Microsoft Dynamics and Microsoft 365 and how to get started. Continuous improvement helps you manage these huge choices and prevent you from being tied to one application from the start to the end of your project. Here are the steps you can take to implement your marginal gains and make the most of all the Microsoft Apps:
- Have a clear strategy – What does the business need to achieve
- Have a road map that will help you achieve that strategy
- Understand the core processes that need to be built into your roadmap including the outcomes
- Work with the business, understand how they work and the barriers they face. What small changes could you make to improve things?
- Create a system architecture that supports this. With clear business rules on what data should be held, for how long, in what format etc.
- Review the best part of the Microsoft stack to use for each phase of your project (once you understand the requirements). Here’s why:
- Microsoft are constantly changing applications across the stack. For example PowerApps are being equipped with more and more functionality so you may not need a full Dynamics 365 App
- Your choice can impact the cost of licences. Generally speaking Dynamics licences are more expensive than PowerApp ones but may not offer the functionality you require.
- You can mix and match. Don’t feel like you must have a PowerApp over a Dynamics App you may be able to have both. For example, if you’re completing a complex property inspection process those based in the office (completing follow up actions) may need a full fat Dynamics licence where someone who completes the initial inspection may only need a PowerApp.
Challenges (and solutions) to this way of thinking
You need to plan your deployment over five years (and work out costs and benefits). Why not plan for the first two years (MAX!) use this time to put in place continuous improvement. It will help reduce the amount of money you need and enable you to flex as new technology/functionality becomes available.
You have no idea where to start? The sheer number of products available in the Microsoft Ecosystem does not help. In fact its one of the main things that’s discussed with me by colleagues across the sector. By implementing continuous improvement, linked to a clear road map and strategy, you’ll be able to flex between Microsoft applications that suit the need rather than try to shoehorn processes/functionality into a single app.
Continuous improvement is slow: That’s not the case, by making small changes you get the opportunity to fail fast (something you certainly cant do with a big bang) and speed up deployments. Smaller changes mean less overhead on developing, training and deploying.
Are you looking to/already implemented continuous improvement? Feel free to comment below. It would be great to get their thoughts.