Systemisation of People and Technology (SOPT)


Significant number of (Enterprise Resource Planning) ERP system implementations end in disaster as off-the-shelf processes and software are implemented without appraising the actual business processes. More often than not organisations simply implement an ERP solution and then carry on doing what they were doing before the implementation; thereby paying less attention to process and more to automation.

In 2001 SOPT, ahead of its time, was promoting more investment at early design stage in mapping business activities and in arguing the idea of “process driven” against “off-the-shelf” software implementation.

What is SOPT?

Systemisation of People and Technology (SOPT) is an innovative business operational methodology that aims to mimic the operation of a business to that of an intelligent machine (IBM) by ensuring seamless interaction between people and technology to deliver business objectives.

SOPT advocates the idea of a manager free business. It believes if the IBM is designed and maintained well it will innovate and manage itself.

However SOPT strongly advocates the idea of Layer and Process ownership. Therefore it requires a Head of Value layer, Head of Support layer and a Head of Audit layer as opposed to many directors and managers we see in businesses. SOPT also advocates the idea of support and creative assistants as opposed to many different skill sets today’s corporations recruit. SOPT also recommends that process ownership is rotational amongst employees.

Here are the key element of SOPT:

  • Layers
  • Process
  • Task, results and waste
  • Standard tasks
  • Creative tasks
  • Business events
  • Business rules
  • Task results
  • Tast cost
  • Corporate monitor
  • Layers

Mechanical layer:

SOPT classifies the layers of an IBM into Value layer, Support layer andAudit layer. Value layer is what a business is about i.e. its products and services. Support layer supports Value layer in its operation. Audit layer ensures that the IBM is running as designed without any downtime.

Strategic layer:

SOPT defines the Strategic layer as the remote controller (not manger) of the IBM. It is this layer that finally signs off SOPT once it is satisfied that the self regulatory IBM is in line with its vision and values. Therefore if the IBM is running as it should be running then the success or failure of a business is down to the Strategic layer which is accountable to the Stakeholders.

Business Process (BP)

SOPT clearly defines all business processes (BP) within a layer. Therefore there are no undefined activities within the IBM. BP is mapped down to individual tasks together with task relationships.

Task, results and waste

Each task is linked to a Result and is either a Creative task (CT) e.g. closing a deal or a Standard task (ST) e.g. creating an order. Activities those are neither Creative nor Standard are Waste by default.

Standard task (ST)

SOPT requires ST to be documented in such a way so that unskilled people are able to follow and perform these tasks following quick training. Another characteristic of ST is that it has an uninterrupted duration i.e. it will start and finish without any pause.

Creative task (CT)

SOPT does not restrict creativity and does not aim to map CT. While these tasks are the real value creator of a business, they can also conceal waste and inefficiency. SOPT documents CT in a descriptive format and and more importantly highlights what value the CT is adding.

Business events (BE)

SOPT requires Business Events (BE) also known as triggers to be carefully managed in the Audit layer. Seamless interaction between people and the technology only occurs because there is a clear and transparent transition from one task to another. A task is triggered by a BE and also results in a BE (which in turn triggers another task) or the result itself. This seamless transition is impossible without perfect management of the BEs.

Business rules (BR)

SOPT defines corporate policies, internal controls and other checks and balances as Business rules (BR). This is managed in the Audit layer. SOPT requires BRs to be embedded within the performance of each task i.e. task completion will be impossible without conformance to BR.

Task results (TR)

SOPT does not recognise any task which does not have a Task result (TR). TR can also be described as performance indicators. This is managed at the Audit layer. It is normal for every BP to have at least one TR.

Task costs (TC)

SOPT requires Task costs (TC) to be measured and accounted for. This is achieved by way of time sheets. Financial chart of accounts will have unique identification number for each task. True efficiency of a business can only be achieved with the knowledge that the business is only doing what it needs to be doing and it knows how much it is costing to do what it is doing.

SOPT encourages employees to be spotting the waste themselves and highlighting it in their timesheets. SOPT also discourages the use of timesheets for any other reason but process improvement.

Corporate monitor (CM)

One of the key requirements of SOPT is the creation of a Corporate Monitor (CM) for IBM. CM has a dedicated page for each BP. The page will show the interactive BP map as illustrated above. Full task documents can be viewed by selecting the task within the BP map. The page will also display qualitative and quantitative data including the TR relating to the individual tasks and the BP. CM enables quick and informed decision making as the true health of a BP is visually displayed to the users. CM also has summary pages for presentation purposes.