Thursday, August 21, 2014

IT Process Automation

Automate => An Efficient Process => Analyze & Monitor                                             

"Automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency.                          Automation applied to an in-efficient operation will magnify the in-efficiency - Bill Gates"

Daily, as we go through a process grind at our workplaces, the efficiency of the laid down process can largely affect our efficiency and productivity in turn of the organization as a whole. So it is very important to build efficient processes, automating them in a way to further enhance their efficiency.

Few questions come to mind though:
  • Why we need not fear automation?
  • What is the need to analyze and monitor an efficient process?
  • How can automation be a business opportunity to improve efficiency and productivity?

Automation isn’t something that we should fear, but rather something that we should embrace. It will not replace us, but rather make our jobs easier and more efficient. For example, IT process automation can reduce the need for manual script writing. A self-correcting mechanism can reduce the need for IT support staff to step in and perform routine tasks, such as run scripts, monitor logs, reset passwords and restart servers.

Does it mean we would have a nameless, faceless workplace that is filled with computers rather than people? No. This is because in most cases the tasks that are automated are meant to be automated. The process can generate meaningful data, day in and day out. With automation, there is an option to focus our energies on analyzing that meaningful data for which human input is necessary and take prudent business decisions.

In fact, automation can sometimes be a game changing opportunity in a business for many reasons. Primarily, it can drastically reduce the risk of costly errors. Repetitive manual tasks can at some point have errors – especially when one is under a lot of stress. One simple error can cause huge ripple effects across the entire organization and even result in lost revenue. Shifting to automation for these tasks can eliminate this danger.  It does present a huge opportunity for organizations to not only save money, improve efficiency and output, reduce errors but much more.

While automation will most certainly fuel business growth, the fact is, businesses will always need the human touch - analyzing, communicating and taking corrective actions. These can never be replaced by any high-end technology . Information Technology will complement and support our efforts to grow further and build products which meet both client expectations and high standards of quality.

How has automation helped your business? Leave us your comments. We look forward to hearing from our readers.

Puneet Malhotra

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Make a Difference

‘You must be the change that you wish to see in the world’
-       M.K.Gandhi

I have worked for a lot of managers but for a very few leaders in my career spanning over 16 years. As a matter of principle I have always told myself that you learn from very person that you come across, making a mental note of the things that you want to adopt and the things that you want to avoid. This is how I viewed every person that I have had the pleasure of working for and with. After years into my career, as I was transitioning into a mid level management position, I was in a conundrum - what kind of a manager should I be? 

As I was trying to look up to different folks that I have known to be in positions of power, I realized that there is a difference between being a manager versus being a leader. My dad further clarified this by pointing out that - A manager’s job is to plan, organize and coordinate. The leader’s job is to inspire and motivate. In a way they must go hand in hand but are not the same thing. Warren Bennis in his 1989 book ‘On becoming a leader’ has composed an exhaustive list of differences of which I have listed a few of my favorites:

-       The manager administers; the leader innovates
-       The manager focuses on systems and structure; the leader focuses on people.
-       The manager relies on control; the leader inspires trust.
-       The manager has his or her eye always on the bottom line; the leader’s eye is on the horizon.

The biggest difference between managers and leaders is the way they motivate the people who work or follow them, and this sets the tone for most other aspects of what they do. How do you motivate people?

My personal experience  on being an employee as well as a leader has been that focusing on small things goes a long way towards making employees believe in what they do day in and day out with a sense of purpose. From stopping by the cubicle getting to know what’s going in their lives; taking them out for a lunch or a drink establishes a rapport that helps in understanding who they are and what is important to them at a rudimentary level in their work life. I am by no means suggesting that this compensates for traditional pay raises, bonuses or promotions. Given the cyclical economic conditions that we are perennially in, such things will help a great deal. I have come across some great managers, who  don’t seem to have time for activities outside core work or they are socially awkward which stops them from being a true leader. One of my favorite quotes on this topic was from Herb Kelleher, the co-founder and former CEO of Southwest who wrote, ‘A company is stronger if it is bound by love rather than by fear’. Southwest recently celebrated an accomplishment of forty one consecutive years of profit.

I was at our India offices last year and a young manager who wanted to be promoted to lead a larger team accosted me, “I’ve been reading all about leadership, have implemented several ideas, and think I’m doing a good job at leading my team. How will I know when I’ve crossed over from being a manager to a leader?”

I didn’t have a ready answer and it’s a complicated issue, so we decided to talk the next day. I thought long and hard, and came up with three things that will help you decide if you’ve made the shift from managing people to leading them. I referred to Vineet Nayar’s, the former CEO of HCL, spot on perspective on this topic:

Measuring Goals vs. Adding Value.  You’re probably measuring value, not adding it, if you’re managing people. Only managers measure value; some even reduce value by disabling those who add value. If a recruiter is asked to report every 1 hour how many folks he has hired, by distracting him, his boss is subtracting value.

By contrast, leaders focus on creating value, saying: “I’d like you to handle issue 1 while I deal with issue 2.” Leading by example and leading by enabling people are the hallmarks of action-based leadership.

Circles of influence vs. Circles of power. Just as managers have subordinates and leaders have followers, managers create turfs while leaders create circles of influence.
The quickest way to figure out which of the two you’re doing is to count the number of people outside your reporting hierarchy who come to you for advice. The more that do, the more likely it is that you are perceived to be a leader.

Leading people vs. Managing work. Management consists of controlling a group or a set of entities to accomplish a goal. Leadership refers to an individual’s ability to influence, motivate, and enable others to contribute toward organizational success. Influence and inspiration separate leaders from managers, not power and control.

I encouraged my colleague to put this theory to the test by inviting his teammates for chats. When they stop discussing the tasks at hand — and talk about vision, purpose, and aspirations instead, that’s when you will know you have become a leader.

At RTS we strive to mentor and groom leaders on a daily basis and we’d like to hear how you view leadership?

Mukundh Parthasarathy