Unpleasant processes: Hunt the sacred cow

Grafik: Antonio Caiazzo
Photo: Antonio Caiazzo

Every company has and maintains: Processes, routines, or rituals that are not only ineffective, but that can also paralyse the workflow of entire departments. Especially with the introduction of new systems or processes, these “sacred cows” immediately stand out … but they are only touched in the most extreme emergency. Understandably, sacred cows in companies are there to create a comfort zone through routine and habit.

But how can you break such habits when introducing a new CRM system, for example, without upsetting end users and your own colleagues?

Search, find, target

For example, in a CRM system introduction, sacred cows are relatively fast, as a new system for customer data often comes along with far-reaching process changes. Sacred cows often come with the phrase “That’s how we’ve always done it!”. Often, however, you have to dig deeper to understand why now, at this point again, an approval from Person X must be obtained or why certain processes are simply not able to be automated: Because well, it’s always been just like that.

Once you have identified the sacred cow, you should weigh it carefully: Is it possible to take over the old process without real losses? Or should one rather speak plain text and let the process continue? What impact does it have on user adoption if I now offend users? There is no blanket response to these questions.
What helps in the decision is – as “simple” as it sounds – sensitivity and empathy. Even with processes that are unnecessarily complex from the outside, there is a raison d’être if the end users have adapted certain processes in their entirety… The replacement is usually much more difficult.

Kill the cow

Now, however, internal system changes are predestined for the removal of old, stale processes. Experience shows that the first correct step is identifying the actual stakeholders. It is not uncommon to target IT or other divisional managers, who only have more or less to do with the operative business. Therefore, it can’t be said enough: Involve end users!

And at best, as early as possible. To stick with the example of a new CRM system: It’s no use doing the IT manager a favour by choosing a system. Much more should end users benefit from a good CRM system, and ultimately, customers too. The involvement of sales and marketing employees should be independent of the hierarchy level within the company: Everyone should be able to give their opinion – therefore being able to identify sacred cows even faster.

If in the conception phase, a process will be marked for removal, you have to offer the appropriate stakeholders alternatives and communicate this clearly with the benefits. In addition, one should develop a solution with the end users and a set of different methods, such as Design Thinking. The advantage is that everyone is part of the solution. Although it can sometimes give a ricochet effect on the part of stubborn colleagues, a large part of the end users will be convinced to take part in the hunt for the sacred cow.

dotSource cow hunters

The dotSource expert team likes to go hunting too. So if a sacred cow in your front yard causes problems and headaches, you can get in touch with our team of experts here – regardless of whether you are chasing in CRM, PIM or e-commerce areas.

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