A hit TV show in the UK has recently highlighted a major scandal involving the UK Post Office. If you haven’t heard about it, here’s some background. In 1999, the Post Office rolled out a new computerized accounting system called “Horizon.” The new software handled transactions and accounting in post offices all across the country. It was designed to streamline and standardize financial processes, as well as to identify potential instances of fraud.
There was just one problem: Horizon didn’t work.
Within just a few weeks of the software roll-out, British subpostmasters (independent franchisees who run local post offices) began complaining about bugs in the software. The totals reported by the computer differed from the totals calculated by hand, often showing that the local post offices were short by significant sums of money.
Those complaints fell on deaf ears.
The Post Office insisted that its system was reliable. And based solely on electronic evidence from the Horizon system, between 2000 and 2014, it convicted 736 sub-postmasters of fraud.
The Horizon system and the resulting convictions had devastating impacts on those accused of crimes. Many spent years in prison. Some lost their houses to bankruptcy. Others went through divorces. Addictions. Health crises. At least one committed suicide.
Since the truth about the faulty software came to light, the courts overturned many convictions. And thanks to the spotlight from the TV show, more reparations are in the works.
While this story may seem distant from the day-to-day operations of sales, there are valuable lessons to be learned about the integration of technology and operational processes.
- Beware of misdiagnosing the root cause. The Horizon scandal is a prime example of how easy it is to blame the wrong factors for operational issues. In sales operations, similar misdiagnoses can occur when technology. people or processes are blamed for deeper underlying problems. This can lead to misdirected efforts and further complications. It’s vital to thoroughly investigate and accurately identify root causes when discrepancies or failures arise in sales processes. For strategies on how to effectively identify and address the true root causes in sales operations, check out Diagnosing Sales Problems.
- Risk mitigation is crucial in implementing new sales strategies. The Horizon scandal demonstrates the importance of testing and validation. Before rolling out new sales tools or strategies, consider a pilot program to identify and address potential issues. This not only helps refine the approach but also builds trust and buy-in among the team. Learn more about effective pilot programs in sales operations by watching Successful Sales Ops Pilot Programs.
- Don’t blindly trust the processes you put in place over time. It’s easy to believe that a sales process that once performed great well is still working well. But tools, models and systems that were created months or years ago may no longer deliver the results they once did. It’s essential to regularly review and test these processes to ensure they are still effective and relevant. Take a look at Sales Process Improvement for how to identify the critical bottlenecks and prioritize improvements.
For more tips on how to avoid common mistakes, check out these resources:
Diagnosing Sales Problems
Failing to identify the true root causes of sales performance problems often leads to a frustrating game of Whack-A-Mole. In this on-demand training webinar, learn how to identify and correct the real root causes behind sales performance issues.
Successful Sales Ops Pilot Programs
How do you get your company to accept new sales tools and approaches, while maximizing your odd of success? In this session, learn how to leverage pilot programs and in-market trials to accelerate your progress.
Sales Process Improvement
In this session, we share how to identify bottlenecks, develop procedures, and prioritize improvements. And, we discuss how to leverage technology to streamline and scale your sales processes.
Tales from the Trenches in Sales Ops
Driving sales effectiveness and efficiency at-scale can be messy. In this on-demand webinar, glean insights from seven cautionary case studies so you don't repeat the same mistakes and miscalculations.