Taking an Innovative Approach

Over 5 years ago Ireland was in the throes of one of the worst recessions in recent times.  Businesses were advised to ‘batten down the hatches’ and weather the storm as best they could. Brian, my business partner, and I took this time to review the current state of our business, where it was going and where we wanted to take it.

This was the catalyst for a change in how we approached our plans for Dataworks.  We knew that we had to innovate if we wanted to grow as a company.

We committed to implementing a strong innovation strategy before the word “innovation” became as ubiquitous as it is today. It was a huge commitment in more areas than one, but this innovation process has led to many exciting developments for Dataworks in the area of new product & service developments and internal process innovations.

Part of this process was to focus on our vision for Dataworks: what we hoped to achieve bound by a strong set of values. In many ways, although we didn’t know it at the time, this was the first step on our Shingo Journey.

The confluence of the internal culture of innovation at Dataworks and the commitment to working towards the vision and values ensured that we achieved the company goals that we set out in 2011 this year. At the time of creating our vision and outlining our goals it seemed unattainable – more something to aim for than to achieve – but taking a measured approach and setting out a roadmap helped us to achieve our goals..

Our Evolving Vision

In May of this year we held an offsite all day innovation session with the team to review our progress to date and discuss a new vision for Dataworks – the result was a collaborative effort by all.

Today our vision is to become our customers’ most trusted software partner by adding real value to their business through collaborative innovation, technical adaptability and agile engagement.

At Dataworks, we believe that there are 3 integral parts to us achieving our vision. These elements and the interaction between them are best described in the infographic below – Our CustomersOur Team and Our Process.


Applying the Shingo Model to Achieve Our Vision

We took the next step on our own Shingo Journey earlier this year – partly to get a deeper understanding of the journey many of our customers are on, but also to see if any elements of the Shingo Model and Shingo Principles could be applied to an organisation like our own – a service based SME operating in the IT sector. The first stage of the journey was to complete a Master Class in Enterprise Excellence based on the Shingo Model.

Early on in the programme, it became very clear that Shingo doesn’t just apply to large manufacturing organisations. We have always been interested in Lean, Six Sigma and the application of technology to help our customers deliver Continuous Improvement and efficiency gains – that in effect is what we do, what we enjoy doing and what we believe we are excellent at doing.  We have always streamlined our own processes, automating many of them, and focusing on adding value to our customer in every step of our own Software Development Life Cycle. In fact, we have gone through many iterations in the refinement of this process, and continually measure our projects to identify further improvements and strive for further improvements.

It was easy for us to look at the “Process” element of achieving our vision, because I suppose engineers and software engineers like to work with or develop processes. Through our innovation process, which was a product of the Innovation training our senior management completed, we also zoomed in on the “Customer” element – by becoming more focused on how we could deliver under met or unmet needs of our customers using various tools and techniques including Customer Journey Mapping, Customer Surveys, better account management, and developing a comprehensive Innovation process which engaged all our staff.

However, despite these great initiatives, and the benefits yielded from them, in terms of increased sales and employment within our organisation, we strangely enough left the “People” element to last. This wasn’t intentional, it’s just how it happened – despite the old adage that your most important resource is your people.

Which brings me back to Shingo and the Enterprise Excellence Model. Early on in the Master Class course it became abundantly clear that significant elements of the Shingo Model, the principles and some of the systems and tools are very applicable to our business, and to virtually any business in my opinion.

Working towards our Vision – making it more than just a statement

One key element that excited us straight away was the Shingo principles, which ones would apply to our own business, and the associated behaviours we would like to observe in our own business – we now had a mechanism to really dig deep into the “People” element of our own strategy (which had been put on the long finger so to speak). Not only had we a new way of looking at this aspect of our business, but in a way that tied back to our vision, and also in a way that really just seemed common sense.

What next? Applying the Shingo Principles

We are in the process of applying the Shingo Principles to our business in a way that reflects our Vision and these principles will help us to make that Vision a reality for the Dataworks team and our clients.

In the next blog post on the Dataworks Shingo journey I will detail the approach that we have taken towards the Shingo Principles and how we are applying them in a service based SME operating in the IT sector.

In the meantime you can read the following related blog posts:

At Dataworks we enable the perfect hybrid of configurable off the shelf toolsets and custom software development to deliver innovative solutions to match your specific business process requirements. This ensures we are the best at what we do.

Contact Us if you would like to discuss how we can use our experience and expertise to deliver real benefits to your business.