Should your tool align with work processes? Or should processes align to the tool? Depends.

The age-old question that is often up for debate is: Which came first – the chicken or the egg?

I think the bigger question that has more far-reaching implications is: Should your process fit the tool or should the tool fit your process?

This question has caused many discussions as to what choice to make. And, ultimately, what tool to purchase to manage the future needs of the enterprise.

Choosing Between Process or Tool

In most cases, tools are built based on much research of best practices for whatever industry a software company is trying to focus on. Many times, adopting a tool and aligning your work processes to the tool leads to efficiencies for the organization.

As you and I know though, most organizations have processes with anomalies or stray from something considered to be “standard or normal.” Which means that regardless of the tool, you cannot use what is delivered out-of-the-box because it requires customization.

If you have no tool or processes in place, the choice is easy. Find the right tool for your business needs and drive your processes from what the tool can offer as a starting point. As your organization matures, your processes and tools will follow.

It would be ideal if one had the luxury of starting from nothing, but most organizations do not have that luxury. You may be mired deep in your own processes and tools and cannot see the forest for the trees.

If you want to grow the business or even stay abreast of competitors, you have to be on board with changes to processes – whether it’s to accommodate a new tool or modify the tool to meet business processes that just cannot change.

All staff within your organization need to accept that some things will just need to change. Even though it may be uncomfortable for them, it has to be done.

Look for a tool that is going to grow with you as your needs change over time.

You’re going to have to tweak both your processes and the way you use your software to get the most out of your team and the services they support.

Help the management team in your organization move past tools and processes. The focus should be on outcomes, business value and revenue potential.

If you can get senior leadership to focus on the goal, which of course should be everyone’s goal, it can be easier to drive effective conversations on the path the organization needs to take to achieve the goal.

As Bob was reminded in “What About Bob?” – baby steps. Take baby steps.