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Lean management @ Quidgest

How Lean Management transform an entire organization

We are in 2017 and the competition in the technology market is tough. Lean management is allowing companies to stay competitive, being able to beat the competition every single day.

 

Lean originated from the Toyota Production System, which was the way Toyota found to be competitive in the Post War. Having visited USA, Taiichi Ohno recognized something in American supermarkets. The scheduling of work wasn’t driven by targets but by actual sales. This reflection was fundamental for the definition of a Pull System, which allowed Toyota to be more flexible producing only the units required and reducing the total costs of stocking.

One of the main principles of Lean is identifying value as perceived by the customer. Depending on the area you are studying, this might not be so easy to define, but once you understand what customers really want it is way more simpler to keep them happy, delivering the exact amount of value they are expecting from you.

Imagine Lean as a set of tools and principles that help you managing your projects, giving you some advantage in many situations. Two of the greatest benefits of following Lean principles are the organization inherent to the culture you’re trying to implement and the way tools integrate with each other.

Another focus of this Lean Environment is the quality of products and the continuous improvement associated. One time is enough if you do it right the first time. According with Lean, one of the worst wastes is the rework, and people are doing it all the time. Some years ago, it wouldn’t shock you if the product you would buy wasn’t working properly, you would go to the store and they would change for a new one. Nowadays, customers are much more demanding and don’t even expect anything but a product completely operational. Lean principles and methodologies helped many companies in the last decades to reach a high level of quality, mitigating this reality I mentioned.

Lean thinking is one of the effective way to transform the way organizations operate. Sometimes people face processes that are done the same way for years and nobody stops to rethink the whole process. Technology changed the way people work and you really need to question yourself if you’re doing it the right way.

Lean organizations encourage their people to improve continuously by giving them the chance and resources to implement new ways to operate. This kind of proactive action definitely requires a safe environment where people are not afraid of trying new techniques. This culture needs to be managed by a Lean Leader who has to be always available to help, not only implementing but also making sure the organization follow the changes and contributes to integrate the change in company’s culture.

There is usually a strong resistance to change for many people that wouldn’t mind keeping the Status Quo. This resistance often comes from those who are going to benefit from this change, however it seems to be part of human nature to resist any type of change at all.

The people who work in a company define the organization and we must remember that people are different. To reach everyone’s attention and to change the way people see their work you should adapt your communication to every single worker, let them comfortable to ask any question and to give real feedback without any consequences.

Maybe because changing is hard for us human beings, we tend to create some resistance to that change. The reality we face today tells us that technology is improving our work exponentially, and as Peter Drucker wrote, “People have to believe that it has 10 times the advantages of what people were previously doing”. Drucker was a leader in the development of management education, created the concept of management by objectives and self-control. He also has been described as “the founder of modern administration”.

Quidgest is creating information systems that are providing data to make better decisions. These systems are one of the most flexible tools when developed according with customer needs, which is exactly what we do. The implementation of these systems may be almost a futuristic way of working for those who are used to older processes and ways to do the job.

This concept of working with the technology has been changing our jobs for better. Many people consider this evolution a threat but nowadays we already have plenty of proof that humans will become way more productive when they delegate repetitive tasks to machines. We just need to embrace the change and make the difference!

Cristiano Alves

 IT Management Consultant at Quidgest

 

Industry 4.0 @ Quidgest

Industry 4.0 is not a futuristic concept, it is already a reality that begins to have an effect on the operational indicators of companies. At the basis of this revolution is the digital connectivity that comes from the massive use of the Internet. Products, machines and people are networked, increasingly in number, through digital platforms that provide information in real time. Several concepts and technologies inhabit initiatives related to Industry 4.0: interoperability between machines, Machine to Machine; Internet of Things; repositories with massive amounts of data (Big Data); data analysis and real-time decision-making in the digital world with fractional second-to-second delays relative to events in the physical world; Artificial Intelligence, either through the use of Chatbots in interaction with humans, or through Machine Learning algorithms. Industry 4.0 is not, therefore, a chain or a fashion, but an evolution that guarantees benefits such as reducing costs, energy, increasing safety and quality, and improving process efficiency. Industry 4.0 is already a reality and the way we deal with production is changing. It is up to us to take advantage of its benefits for the competitiveness and the success of the business.

 

Amélia Pinto Basto

International Business Consultant @ Quidgest

 

Design Thinking @ Quidgest

A human-centered approach to innovation

As Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO, said “Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.”

Design thinking (DT) has become more and more popular, as some of the world’s leading brands (Apple, Google and Samsung) have rapidly adopted this approach. In other words, DT can be used to tackle big ideas in a manageable way, for those who “dream big”. DT is an approach to solving problems that puts end users at the center of the process. And how can we do that? There are essentially five steps:

  1. Empathise – with your users;
  2. Define – your users’ needs, their problem, and your insights;
  3. Ideate – by challenging assumptions and creating ideas for innovative solutions;
  4. Prototype – to start creating solutions;
  5. Test – solutions.

It’s important to note that the five stages are not always sequential. They do not have to follow any specific order and can often occur in parallel and repeat iteratively. But keep in mind that the goal is to develop useful products and solutions that fit the needs of the user, not the other way around!

Here, at Quidgest, we provide clients around the world with unique software solutions deployed automatically in minutes, which fit what they really want.

What do you think about this approach?

 

Rui Val de Ovelha

International Business Consultant @ Quidgest

 

Digital Transformation @ Quidgest

Mobility, use of social networks, remote access, infrastructure and cloud services, Internet of Things, data analysis and big data. Words like these come to your mind when talking about digital transformation? Much more than a bunch of fashionable words (some not so much…), digital transformation involves the restructuring of processes and the absorption of a digital culture, aimed at generating productivity gains in several ways: -Better customer experience  – New ways of marketing products and services -Optimization of the chain of processes – Assisting in strategic decision-making. This, just to mention some of the most relevant advantages.

Ask yourself 3 questions when planning your digital transformation:

-What new benefits can be made available to customers in order to realize more value in your product or service?

-How can your chain of processes (internal, with suppliers and partners) benefit from this transformation?

-What are the consequences of this for the company’s results?

Here, I leave 3 links for those interested in this topic, to better understand what digital transformation is and how you can optimize your business processes:

https://lnkd.in/eVjJZSy

https://lnkd.in/e_iPiv2

https://lnkd.in/efXJYaC

 

Amélia Pinto Basto

International Business Consultant @ Quidgest

 

Every business is a software business

 “Every business is a software business”, as Watts S. Humphrey, the father of quality in software and CMMI, said two decades ago.

The CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, repeats the message: “all companies are software companies”. “Every company is a software company. You have to start thinking and operating like a digital company. It’s no longer just about procuring one solution and deploying one. It’s not about one simple software solution. It’s really you yourself thinking of your own future as a digital company.

To this change of vision, to this metamorphosis of the companies and to all its implications, we call Digital Transformation.

Software is the ultimate source of capacity, competitiveness, innovation, quality and agility of companies. And it is the continually updated repository of our knowledge.

If your organization provides services, the software probably coordinates the entire workflow, supports customer service, builds loyalty, manages the treasury, or aggregates indicators for management decisions. If your business is industrial, the software probably controls the acquisition, production, stock management, marketing, sale, or distribution. When more than 95% of your organization’s operations cam be supported by software, it is undeniable that your business is a software business.

Your organization is a software business, even if your activities are not yet managed by software by software. It is enough that they can be. Because your competitors, particularly the most innovative and disruptive, are taking steps to digitalize all the activities that cab be digitized. Or they are born digital, with all their activities already executed or supported by software. In any case, the possible inattention of your organization pays dearly.

Activities carried out and supported by software include activities that, until now, were reserved for knowledge workers. Like software programming, which is automated at Quidgest.

As it is ultimately the software that determines the quality, speed and scale of your activity, it is the competitiveness of your company that is concerned.

Over the years, the relationship between software and the management of organizations has not been peaceful. “I see software everywhere except productivity statistics,” said Nobel laureate Robert Solow in 1987 in what became known as the Productivity Paradox.

For years, information technologies have taken advantage of the business, more than they have served the business. With the technological diffusion, with the emergence of technologically better prepared decision makers and with constant innovation to remove technologists from their pedestal, this situation has been reversed. However, the cases where the software and the infrastructure supporting it (hardware, networks and communications) take up too much of the organizations’ budgets, giving little to the business in return, are still rare today. That is, it does not provide competitive advantages, productivity increases or better experiences for the organization’s customers. There is a very significant potential for change, while reversing these cases and divesting these suppliers.

The trend of software serving the business has also been enhanced by the contribution of more conscious and committed software producers who have developed and followed approaches such as Agile, DevOps or Model Driven Development.

But digital transformation goes further than just serving the business. Digital transformation is putting the software at the center of the business, in the center of the organization’s activity. Software and business are no longer distinguishable from each other. The vision of one is the vision of the other. It is impossible to separate what is software and what is business. Any management measure applies through software. Any learning is done collectively by integration into the software. There are no areas of the business that are not covered by the software, nor software features that are not required by the business. The pace of software and business change is identical, and very high.

Applying the concept to our reality, what is the future of companies, in which we work or with whom we work, as software companies? What is the future of organizations such as CGD, CEMAH, EDP, Sonae, ADENE, CP, SIBS, INA, CCDR, Galp, Competition Authority, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Águas de Portugal, Secil, Autoeuropa, Brisa, Civil Protection or Quidgest as software companies? Are you, or are you going to, succeed in defining your strategy as software companies? What about your culture? Are they thinking of themselves, not as banks, training providers, service providers, shopping centers, transport companies, firefighters, construction materials producers, but as software companies?

 

Digital Transformation of States and Companies

The strategic challenge of companies and states is to rethink their in the digital era. It’s not about buying a technology. It is about putting technology at the heart of the activity they develop.

Digital transformation is a strategic competitive advantage. But it is also unavoidable. If the economy is digital, all businesses are bound to be digital. It is not about updating technology, but about updating the vision of the business. A bank (like n26) is not a business that uses technology, but a technology that comes in the form of a bank and is inseparable from a bank. In “our” Farfetch, it is also impossible to distinguish software and business. With digital transformation, the essence (the business) of an organization becomes your software and just the appearance is your previous business.

All changes are difficult. But this transformation is particularly difficult to accept. Most leaders and employees of a company or public institution do not see their organization as essentially software.

If this is the case, if it is also difficult for you to design your business as a software business, think about scenarios. Imagine that your business is a digital business. What changes? Or imagine a scenario in which a new competitor, fully digital, threatens it. What weapons would be used by this competitor? How would you allow you to gain advantages over your company?

Like metamorphosis, digital transformation is a process, a sequence. It is not done from one day to the next. It requires strategy and a strategy map (possibly a Quidgest BSC).

There are new opportunities in the digital economy. But they are more open, accessible to more players and on an international scale. Without the weight of the legacy, a new entrant often has an advantage and can pose a serious threat to already established companies. The scale of digital and the absence of barriers to expansion make it impossible to be safe anywhere. Bookstores around the world felt this with Amazon.

Pre-digital companies are not doomed. A bank like CGD will not necessarily fail to enter fully digital fintech companies. But there is a threat, which has to be taken very seriously.

Digital is both a disruption and the new standard. This may be more evident in some sectors than in others, but no industry is immune. Citing the author of “Digital Vortex”, Daniel Pink: “Name an industry, and odds are it’s being disrupted by competitors deploying digital technology.

And if today’s companies do not endow themselves with technological vigilance and the ability to closely follow what digitally-owned companies can do, they are doomed. Activities properly supported by software multiply dramatically, by the thousands or millions, their productivity or their effectiveness.

However, this capability is far from easy to achieve. For cultural and organizational reasons, of aversion to change. Because of difficulties in bringing together technological skills, with resources with increasingly scarce and expensive software skills. And for lack of strategic perception.

Often, following is not enough. The former benefits from an advantageous position because it is the first, which is difficult (but not impossible) to overcome.

The key is to learn how to merge business with information technology in a way that is truly transformative.

The software will not remain unscathed to this change. The software has to change radically. It is not the old software (the typical financial management package, in particular) that will support digital transformation. But flexible and powerful software production technologies that automate the application of human knowledge, such as Quidgest’s Genio, which have the capacity to promote and dynamize digital transformation.

Digital transformation requires innovation, it is the current way of designating innovation and applying all the benefits (and risks) of innovation and creativity. Digital transformation is the innovation supported by the technological revolution of our time.

What is not digital transformation is also easy to understand. Removing information systems from organizations and expecting them, absurdly, to work better. Exclude organizations from thinking about their digital future. Denial of the possibility of digital transformation is an (effective) way of destroying an organization.

Digital transformation consists of rethinking what is the leadership of your industry, for your company and for yourself.

In strategic terms, software has gone from being neutral to being the main weapon of leadership attack strategies, and has been used in every industry by well-known companies, like Amazon (books and all) Google (advertising), Uber (transport), Booking.com (hotel reservations).

Software, used as a strategic offensive weapon, enables you to identify and deliver new revenue streams, transform customer experience, dramatically reduce costs and response times, increase efficiency and production capacity.

If it is not used by your company it will certainly be used against your company. If it is not used by our country, it will be used by other countries for its benefit and to the detriment of our development.

Business management and country government do not produce immediate, positive or negative results. However, delaying digital transformation for a sufficient length of time will certainly result in a continuous deterioration in the attractiveness of companies or countries and in the desertion of customers, investors or citizens.

 

The human element and education in Digital Transformation

Societies are stratifying into two groups: digital skeptics and digital transformers. The latter include, even if they are not fully aware of it, the digital natives. It is not just a generational issue. At Quidgest we have often supported, over the past 29 years, projects promoted by digital transformers not fully understood by the digital skeptics surrounding them.

The new millennial generation is entering the job market and their thinking is already global. Without great fears, the most competent learn and succeed in any country or culture.

In corporations and governments, a new generation of decision makers, managers and entrepreneurs, already born in the digital world, is causing a wave of change at an amazing rate. This generation knows, better than any previous generation of decision makers, the power and shortcomings of information technology. It takes advantage of the benefits and circumvents the limitations of technology to put into practice new forms of service delivery, wealth creation and well-being.

It does not blindly follow the technological leaders of the previous generation (it even completely ignores them), challenges deep beliefs, and creates new business models, sometimes complementary to those that already exist, sometimes completely disruptive. The internet and the breakthrough in computing power and digital storage, available from smart mobile devices, coupled with widespread use as well as new developments in science and engineering, are the main basis of this new economic revolution.

Instead, business or government leaders who say, without any embarrassment, they don’t know anything about information technology, will disappear, become irrelevant. As will their organizations, if the breakdown of ties is not quick enough.

On the jobs side, the threat “What if people run out of things to do” is not a topic that scares us. Digital transformation will create new types of employment. Even the global trend of “automation of knowledge work”, of which Quidgest’s Genio is a good example, allows us to create a new profession of Knowledge Engineer capable of creating the demanding solutions required by Digital Transformation.

The human element requires change management. Transformation is more than change, but Digital Transformation can use and inherit all the knowledge gained from change management. Concepts such as Hype Cycle and the management of the expectations of the interlocutors. The distinction between Early Adopters and Laggards. The need to give organizations some time to adapt to the new age and new rules of the game. A map of strategy execution. Your organization’s successful digital transformation will require the application of all these and other change management tools.

 

Digital Transformation on a global scale

Digital is global. It has no borders, although states begin to realize, and societies begin to accept, that being on the Internet will not continue to exempt digital businesses from paying taxes.

Two key concerns arise when we think of digital transformation on a global scale.

On the one hand, how will the digital transformation of societies, governments and companies contribute to the global sustainable development objectives (ODS) reflected in the United Nations Agenda 2030?

On the other hand, what new international economic order will emerge from this revolution? In fact, industrial or technological revolutions are not neutral. All have created leaders on a global scale. But they have also led to the exclusion of countries and regions. In particular, what position will this transformation bring to Europe, Portugal and each of the countries in which Quidgest operates? What companies can we support to be leaders on a global scale?

The vicious cycle nature of our growth also continues to worry. After a period of recession, the current growth has already triggered imports (notably software). The economic awareness of IT decision makers has not made much progress.

During the first half of 2017, growth in the positive balance of services, which includes revenues from tourism (and expenses with the acquisition of software abroad), was already insufficient to compensate for the increase in the balance of payments deficit assets. Our financial position vis-à-vis the exterior has worsened. From this point of view, essential for our future, was a lost semester.

Durante o primeiro semestre de 2017, o crescimento do saldo positivo da balança de serviços, em que se integram as receitas da atividade turística (e as despesas com aquisição de software ao exterior), já foi insuficiente para compensar o aumento do défice da balança de bens. O nosso posicionamento financeiro face ao exterior agravou-se. Deste ponto de vista, essencial para o nosso futuro, foi um semestre perdido.

This is enough to consider that the digital transformation of the Portuguese economy is also very necessary. The competitiveness of our producers of goods and services (and also of our tourism) depends on our software.

Can digital transformation be an engine of expansion of national technology companies? Can tourism be a facilitator of technological exchange? How to promote the Portuguese language as a vehicle for economic development? How can we immediately help developing countries and put national technology to support the achievement of the United Nations’ 17 sustainable development goals by 2030?

 

Be the business: Computer Science and technology in Digital Transformation

In his book, “Be the Business: CIOs in the New Era of IT,” Martha Heller quotes Mark Settle, CIO of Okta: “Large enterprise CIOs used to function as traffic cops regulating the selection, implementation and use of information technology. To be successful in today’s world, they need to serve as a concierge of IT capabilities, providing the advice and suggestions their companies need to leverage new and emerging technologies. ”

With software, it is not enough to serve the business. It is necessary to be (the soul of) the business.

In the last decade, three trends have marked the role of computer scientists in organizations. First, there was a movement from the “back office” to the “front office”. That is, from business applications to customer-facing initiatives. Second, there was a movement from “software as a support” to “software as a strategic resource”. What it meant to directly relate revenues to software costs, rationalize expenses and stop thinking about software as a cost, but mainly as a potential source of revenue, with a big impact on revenue. Third, a move from “technology” to “management”, with a focus on performance, quality, information security, adoption of better methodologies (Lean, Agile or DevOps), extension to other areas of management ( digital marketing), automation, industry 4.0 and time to market.

As a result, we moved from a closed, self-focused technological area to the elimination of barriers (which existed in both directions) between information technology and all other areas of the organization. In digital organizations, the general movement in society is reflected: digital technology has been democratized. Today, it is more easily accessible and belongs (a little more) to everyone.

Major security challenges also apply to organizations and people in general in this Digital Transformation course. The path of digitization has already overcome major obstacles in the last decades, although some are still not completely resolved as digital preservation. The transformation is raising other issues for discussion and regulation such as privacy and cybersecurity.

Only the most flexible and easy-to-use technologies will meet the requirements of constant change. Many organizations are hostage to rigid, obsolete, and poorly interoperable software solutions that are totally incompatible with the new pace of mobility and change.

This pace, implicit in Digital Transformation, is a huge challenge. The balance of agility, reliability and security, applying the principles of continuous integration and DevOps, enables top performing digital companies (such as Google, Booking.com, Amazon, Uber, Facebook, Netflix) to install dozens of new software solutions daily. Just like Quidgest customers.

 

João Paulo Carvalho

Senior Partner at Quidgest

 

Data Privacy Regulation @ Quidgest

The European Commission has been debating about a subject that has an influence on everyone who uses information systems and digital businesses and demands privacy: data protection legislations.

It is essential to ensure that Europe fits the digital age, providing data protection and its privacy, regardless of where data is processed.

From this process, General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR) was born. The primary objective of the GDPR is to give citizens back control of their personal data. Once GDPR takes effect (the compliance deadline for this was set for May 2018) it will harmonize previous and other data protection regulations already existing throughout the EU.

To address the GDPR compliance requirements, organizations must employ (at least one) encryption methods and strong key management, to ensure the protection of the encrypted data. Organizations will also need a way to verify the legitimacy of user identities and transactions, and to prove compliance. It is critical that the security controls in place be demonstrable and auditable.

According to GDPR organizations must:

  • Only process data for authorized purposes;
  • Ensure data accuracy and integrity;
  • Minimize subjects’ identity exposure;
  • Implement data security measures.

 

To preserve subjects’ privacy, organizations must implement:

  • Data protection by design and by default;
  • Security as a contractual requirement with their partners and service providers;
  • Encryption;
  • Security measures that respond to their risk assessment;
  • Safeguards if they are to keep data for additional processing.

Here, at Quidgest, we make sure that our entire client’s data is protected and kept private, with all the necessary means to this end. 

 

Rui Val de Ovelha

International Business Consultant @ Quidgest

 

Software Academy @ Quidgest

The Impact of Digital Transformation

At Quidgest Q-Day Conference 2017 we discussed the impact of digital transformation at many levels. One of the panels focused the debate on the learning process of programming skills by present and future generations. Many like Quidgest shared a common idea: programming will soon be a necessary skill to all.

I confess that for those like me, without a background in Engineering or specific knowledge of computers, this prediction causes a certain discomfort. How can we catch up with programmers and the infinity of languages available without taking, again, approximately twenty years of study?

Quidgest gave us the answer. The Software Academy at Quidgest combines the main theoretical learning concepts with a no-code Development Platform that enables those in training to quickly develop software without coding. The result? The trainees were able to create a customized basic solution in three weeks!

Furthermore, many like me felt that their consultancy skills were pushed to the next level: now we can discuss the specifications of a software solution and clearly “speak” the language.

At Quidgest, the combination of a no-code platform and years of know-how created a Software Academy that is able to easily prepare present and future generations for programming.

 

Maria Martins

International Business Development Consultant @ Quidgest

 

DevOps @ Quidgest

Fundamental to cloud environments and to the current IT market, DevOps is a combination of the words “development” (Dev) and “operations” (Ops). It should be understood as a strategy to increase a company’s ability to distribute applications and services at high speed and with quality. DevOps principles help development and operation teams work together to streamline and improve software creation and maintenance. The main benefit, and also the biggest change in the strategy of a DevOps environment, is having different professionals working together. It can be in hybrid teams  or teams acting together. The idea is to reduce the tension between teams so that, working collaboratively, they deliver more results to the company. By fostering a collaborative culture and stimulating teamwork, DevOps ultimately improves employee engagement and significantly increases the speed at which applications are developed and performance issues are addressed. That’s why many organizations are managing to build applications and deploy software updates faster. It is due to this strategy that Quidgest can offer customized systems in a reduced and favorable time according to our customers’ expectations.

 

Amélia Pinto Basto

International Business Consultant @ Quidgest