United Airlines last week suffered (yet another) technology malfunction that affected nearly a third of its flights for the day, and at least one report related a sordid tale within which lies at least one particularly important lesson:
Your business process shouldn’t break just because your technology does.
Amidst what was unfolding as a chaotic customer service free-for-all, technologist and Huffington Post blogger Ken Gruberman spied one United employee who had figured out that work still could get done even without the aid of the inoperable electronic system. “Hang in there,” he told Gruberman, “we’re checking in people by hand, the old-fashioned way.”
The old-fashioned way.
- The way we used to do things, even before there were computers.
- The same way we still get checked into drive-in movies and Broadway shows.
You see, the process is the process, and the technology is just a detail. One presumes that you installed the technology to meet a specific business need (if not, we need to talk!). So if your process grinds to a halt because your technology broke, then you’ve either forgotten why you got it or you never explained it to your people.
Either way, a disconnect will have appeared between process and technology, and the process participant (the customer, in our example) will end up paying a price that could cost you dearly.