Will ROWE Work in Finance? Part II

While most of us in technology companies have enjoyed the freedom and flexibility to work more effectively, I wondered if my peers in Finance enjoyed the same autonomy. Is it reasonable to suggest that reconciliations and allocations can be completed as easily at home in the evening rather than staying at work for hours on end, waiting for other groups to complete their subledger updates and post them to the General Ledger? I believe it is. Best Buy not only clearly demonstrated that ROWE works but has defined key performance indicators to measure these improvements.

“Thanks to ROWE, people at Best Buy are happier with their lives and their work”, according to Ressler and Thompson. “The company has benefited too, with increases in productivity averaging 35 percent and sharp decreases in voluntary turnover rates, as much as 90 percent in some divisions”.

Was the technology, collaboration tools and software applications used by Best Buy to define, measure and achieve these improvements as well as enable employees to “have control over their lives” a part of their success? Did the Oracle implementation facilitate ROWE being successful in departments that never would have thought it possible in the past?

With technology now in place to free people from the cube, Ressler and Thompson are on a mission to make ROWE the new status quo.

“Fortunately we live in a time when this is possible. Today technology gives people incredible power over time and information. In our personal lives, technology means we don’t have to wait for the store to open to buy something. We don’t have to watch our favorite show the minute it airs or come down from Mount Everest to make a phone call. But this isn’t about the wonders of technology. This is about what technology could let us do and how we’re not taking full advantage.”

So why don’t we take full advantage of what technology could let us do?

According to a recent study by Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson published in Harvard Business Review, “it’s not easy for most companies to deploy enterprise IT successfully. The technologies themselves are complicated to configure and test, and changing people’s behavior and attitudes toward technology is even more challenging." While major ERP players continue to deliver complete solutions that streamline configuration, testing and deployment, it’s not the full answer to the riddle.

Another factor that impacts our adoption of technology are newly emerging trends in the competitive landscape. McAfee and Brynjolfsson's analysis showed that “competition is accelerating within traditional industries within the broader U.S. economy. Not because more products are becoming digital but because more processes are”. As processes become more digital and emerging technologies enable employees to work more effectively, we can expect that “the firm with the best processes will win in most or all markets.”

What do you see as the barriers or enablers to a Results Only Work Environment (ROWE)?

Comments:

ROWE is how work will be done in the future. As the business world becomes more of a global economy, more companies will be begin to find economies of scale by leveraging offshore resources. These resources can only be measured with a ROWE model.

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