Best Practices

Ultimate Guide to the People, Process, Technology Framework

Jonathan Friedman
May 22, 2021
Ultimate Guide to the People, Process, Technology Framework

Curious about the People, Process, Technology Framework, also known as the PPT Framework?


What if we told you that there are three elements that every successful business keeps in balance? What if we said that the key to achieving harmony is by maintaining these elements and ensuring that they work together?


Luckily, it's true. When it comes to organizational change, you need to maintain and balance three things: people, processes, and technology.


The balance of these three elements is the People, Process, Technology Framework. We also call this the PTT Framework.


To learn more about this revolutionary way of approaching organizational change, keep reading. It will help you transform your business.

Below is everything we will cover. Feel free to skip ahead.


The People, Process, Technology Framework


The People, Process, Technology Framework is a popular business method. It refers to and exhibits how the balance of people, processes, and technologies drive organizational change.


You need to balance the three components and maintain good relationships between them to maximize efficiency. After all, people use processes and technology to complete work for the organization they're with.


Often, organizations use this framework when deciding whether to buy or use new technologies. Sometimes, organizations can become encompassed by new technologies. This leads them to use them without balancing them with their existing processes.


This is why we take the balance of people, processes, and technologies into account. The balance can help organizations drive action and improve their efficiency.


Balancing the framework


To be clear, all three of these elements must balance one another. The three elements may exist independently, but they do affect one another. This means that the actions of one component will affect another.


If you change technology, you'll see changes in people and processes. The same relationships exist with each intersection.


Some people refer to the relationship between these three elements as a 'triple constraint.' If one element shifts, the other two must do so as well. Without compensation, the three elements would fall out of balance.


Once these relationships fall out of balance while you're managing a project, you may notice a cascade of events. These will likely lead to failures, mishaps, and more.

The bottom line is that you want to avoid messing with the balance between these elements.


Understanding the balance between these elements can be difficult. The balance is different for each company. So, you cannot look to other companies to find the perfect balance for you.


Visualizing the framework


How people view the PPT Framework depends on how they're planning on using it.


Some individuals and companies see an equilateral triangle when they think of the PPT Framework. Each side represents one of the elements. If one element is out of balance, the triangle becomes lopsided and unrecognizable.


Others choose to see the intermingling of the three elements as a Venn diagram with three circles. Each circle represents one of the elements. This shows that the elements exist on their own as well as with one another.

But, the Venn diagram does not show the analogy of balance well. This is why the triangle is the more popular choice.


Similar to the triangle is the three-legged stool. Some people like to imagine each element as a leg. If one element overpowers the others, the stool becomes wobbly.


Some people prefer to have 'technology' denoted as 'tools.' This term encapsulates both digital and non-digital items.

However, we will be using the term 'technology' because of the digital transformation revolution that many companies have undergone for several years. Because of the transition into the digital world, the majority of - if not all - of the tools companies are using are digital.


Breaking down the framework


Understanding each element of the PPT Framework is just as important as understanding the relationships between the elements. If you can learn how to regulate each aspect, you can better control them.


The balance is critical. So, let's talk about how you can approach each element in the framework.


People


Arguably, this is the most crucial part of the triangle. 'People' refers to the workers within an organization. Without people, nothing can happen. 


One of the biggest problems when it comes to this part of the triangle is time. It seems like people are consistently busy.


When you're collecting employee timetables, you should focus on the availability of the most productive employees. 


By looking at when they can work, you'll be able to piece together a timeline for whatever change you're trying to implement.


When it comes to hiring the right individuals, you should look into their experiences, qualifications, and attitude. It's also important to make sure that you're hiring people who are passionate about the work they're going to be doing.


Before you have your team begin, you need to make sure that they're on board with the impact that this change is going to make. The more they understand and believe in the changes you're making, the more effort they will give into implementing the change.


At the same time, you have to balance communication between everyone who's a part of the change.


Gathering communicative, motivated individuals will set your company up for success. These employees will work hard for your company and represent the company well.


Process


Next are the processes that a company has to handle. Here, a process refers to the series of actions that employees do to meet a company goal.


Without processes in place, people don't have a clear idea of what to do. Without people in place, processes don't get done.


Implementing processes in the workplace is not as easy as assigning a task or suggesting an activity. A lot of planning and coordinating goes on behind the scenes. Here are some things that you should keep in mind as you're introducing processes in the workplace:



One thing that companies forget when they're establishing new processes is to account for old ones. Managers get so excited about the next, new thing that they don't take the time to make room for the new addition.


This causes an overload of processes that can confuse employees rather than help them.


While you measure success, don't forget the most key project management KPIs.


Technology


Technology is an excellent addition to any work team. Innovators and experts are coming up with new, helpful technologies and tools every single day.


However, technology alone cannot solve all of your problems. Given the People, Process, Technology Framework, technology needs people and processes to work correctly.


Too often, companies become enamored with new technology. They are overwhelmed by everything new and powerful technologies can do and don't consider how they can fit it into their existing workflow.


In fact, only 14% of businesses in the United States use their technologies to their most significant potential.

Don't become so overwhelmed by what the technology can do to become lost by what the technology needs to do for you. Don't let salespeople and marketers convince you that the technology is right for you if it isn't.


Figure out what your business needs and look for it. That way, you're more likely to take advantage of technologies you already have.


Uses of the People, Process, Technology Framework


Most often, businesses implement the People, Process, Technology Framework when deciding when or not they should purchase and implement new types of technologies into the business. 


As you're keeping these elements in balance, you should understand the value of everything that you're comparing. 


For example, technology does not typically have a high return on investment. Therefore, you must make sure that your employees understand how to use it well while implementing the proper processes.


History of the PPT Framework


Surprisingly, the PPT Framework has been around since the early 1960s. It was then that Harold Leavitt, a business management expert, developed the Diamond Model. He detailed this change-focused model in his paper entitled "Applied Organization Change in Industry."


Leavitt's original Diamond Model featured four elements:


  1. People: the workers
  2. Structure: how the workers are organized
  3. Tasks: what the workers are doing
  4. Technology: which tools the workers are using


Many people have since turned the diamond into a triangle by combining structure and tasks into 'processes.' 


In the 1990s, Bruce Schneier - computer security and privacy specialist - pushed the framework into a revolutionary change. "People, process, technology" became a mantra in organizational management. It also fell into project creation and planning.


Schneier himself spoke about the framework and its applications in the information and technology field. He and many others used the framework in a plethora of areas to address change over time.


Most notably, there was a shift away from individuating people, processes, and technology from one another. 


Instead, business leaders are looking at how these elements work together and influence one another. This is the primary shift in thinking that transferred the diamond model into a triangular framework.


The People, Process, Technology Framework in the digital age


When the age of digital transformation began, many people started assuming that the People, Process, Technology Framework would no longer be relevant. Thankfully, they were wrong.


Initially, experts believed that digital technology's age would tip the triangle towards technology over people and processes. They thought that greater dependence on technology would change the interactions between people, processes, and technologies as a whole.


Others believed that the digital age would transform the triangle back into a diamond. 'Data' would become one of the new components to balance people, processes, and technologies. In these terms, data would help business leaders determine the next steps while defining success or failure in the prior one.


While some business professionals abide by this diamond model, the PPT Framework's idea would disappear entirely was debunked. Businesses were leaning on the model more than ever while implementing new technologies in the workplace.


Without the PPT Framework, companies would fall out of balance with all of the new, innovative technologies that came about at the start of the 21st century.


How the People, Process, Technology Framework relates to ITIL and ITSM


"People, process, technology" has been a mantra in Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) and Information Technology Service Management (ITSM). It is increasingly important in information security.


Bruce Schneier, a blogger on Schneier on Security, speaks of the framework's impact repeatedly. However, there has been a slight shift in thinking with the implementation of modern technologies.


Instead of completely balancing technologies with people and processes, he voices a preference for technologies. In information security, people and processes can be unreliable. Therefore, a focus on technology can lead to more impactful change faster.


If you're looking to implement the PPT Framework within a security organization, keep these tips in mind:



The PPT Framework may be slightly altered when security organizations use it, but the main idea is still the same. There is a favor towards technology, but this does not change the fact that everything must balance with one another.


Favoring technology does not mean that technology should overpower people or processes. You must make sure that you're using technology in a way that complements the people and processes within your organization.


Knowledge management and the PPT Framework


The PPT Framework is also applicable to knowledge management. Knowledge management refers to creating, sharing, using, and managing knowledge within an organization. At its best, knowledge management should be efficient.


In terms of the PPT Framework, organizations can bolster their knowledge management protocols:



If you're working on building a knowledge management system within your organization, you need to keep the PPT in mind. Accomplishing the balance of knowledge between the three components of the PPT Framework will lead to better practices within your organization.


How to apply the PPT Framework to the workplace


Unfortunately, the average digital transformation strategy excludes people from the equation. Of course, without the employees, nothing could happen. So, these strategies end up failing.


To implement the People, Process, Technology Framework in the workplace, you need to make sure that you're including the people who will be doing the processes and using the technology. This is how you balance the triangle or three-legged stool that we discussed earlier.


Another common issue is that people look towards using the framework for short-term change rather than long-term transformation.


To efficiently and effectively apply the framework to your workplace, you need to know how to find the flaws within your organization and use the framework to fill in the gaps. 

Keep the following interactions in mind as you're using the PPT framework in the workplace:



Current technology


Use your current technology to its fullest potential.


Don't automatically look for new technologies whenever something goes wrong. Adding more tech may sound like it will help by giving your team more resources. But, it will hinder your team by distracting them from the tech they already have.


If you aren't using your current technology completely, you're wasting money. You're also placing more pressure on your employees to learn yet another system. This can become confusing and unnecessary.


If you've found a problem, you should look at if your current technology can handle that problem. Don't move onto something new.


If your existing technology can't handle it, you should attempt to solve the problem in other ways. Once you've exhausted all existing resources, you should consider new technology.


But, you should try to find a platform that gives you everything you need. You should get your existing technological uses as well as the uses you're looking for. Transitioning to new technology is more accessible than trying to use two technologies.

  

Company culture


Your company culture is the key to successful, efficient operations. You shouldn't be lacking communication, promoting toxicity, or otherwise creating a poor environment. With these traits, you're not going to reap the success that you're hoping for.


When new employees come in, you should be bolstering communication training. Focus on teaching them how to communicate successfully with the team.


Those new employees should understand their place on the team. Likewise, they should understand everyone else's place.


Ideally, your team has already chosen reliable project management software. This allows you to keep everything related to your work projects in one place while communicating with team members.


Interactions matter


You should be focusing on the interactions between people, processes, and technologies. By isolating these components, you're only damaging your company. You're pushing your goals further away.


One motivated person with efficient processes and effective technologies is productive. A dozen unmotivated people with inefficient processes and ineffective technologies are not.


Make sure that all the components are working together. Remember, this is a triangle/three-legged stool. Don't knock it out of balance.

 

Best practices for the PPT Framework


While you're implementing this framework, you don't want to negotiate anything. You want to make sure that you're taking the time to customize the framework work for you and your team.


This means that you need to understand the best practices for the framework. But, this may be difficult if you haven't used a framework before. You have no experience balancing the interactions between people, processes, and technology.


While you're getting started, you should follow one component at a time. Here, we are going to break it down step-by-step.

People Process Technology Framework Best Practices


Start with the people

As we reviewed, the PPT Framework argues that everything should be in balance. But, people tend to come first.


People existed far before any of the processes or technologies did. So, they become the most critical asset.

Plus, it is much easier to organize processes and technologies around people. Doing things the other way around can be more difficult. That is unless you're involved in a technology-heavy industry.


1. Who and why


First, identify the people that are most important to your organization. These are highly motivated individuals. Likely, they're also highly attached to your company.


Consider what each of those individuals brings to the table. What are the personality traits that make them stand out? 


What skills and abilities do they have that make them preferable to other employees?


Now, you need to understand what each employee is looking for. They likely have expectations for their relationship with your company. Talk with each employee about what they want while they're working with your company.


Try these team-building activities for individuals who have never worked together before.


2. Management


Before you get started, you need to make sure that senior management is on board. If you are senior management, then you're likely fine.


But, if you need to consult senior management, you should do so before making any changes. Without support from higher-up employees, the transformation into the framework will likely fail.


When you confront your team's senior members, you should have a rough draft of the plan you want to use.


While we don't recommend making any changes before talking to them, you should plan to show them. This is more likely to convince them that you're serious about the change. At the same time, it shows them what the change actually is.


Your higher-ups likely know about the People, Process, Technology Framework. But, this does not mean using it correctly or couldn't be using it better.


3. Crafting the team


You have to have an effective team with the right skills, experience, and attitude if you're going to transform successfully. Look at the members you want on your team and use the information you collected in step one.


If you already have an established team, you'll likely need to make adjustments. If you are creating a team for the first time, focus on individuals who'll give you their all. Either way, you need influential team members.


Don't settle for individuals who aren't going to dive into the new way of doing things. If you do, you won't know if those new strategies are effective or not.


You need employees that are going to give their best. This is because you need to understand whether these strategies work. If your people aren't motivated, you may make unnecessary changes.


Another consideration that you may want to make if you're currently crafting a team is practical experience. Many organizations are hiring people who theorize and consult rather than do. Nothing replaces years of the tactile experience.


Assuming that your team is ready to undergo the new framework, you can move on to the processes you will set in place.


Address the processes


You have your team. You understand your team members. You have senior management professionals on board.

Now, you can start crafting new processes for your employees to use.


4. Defining processes


Remember, a process is a series of actions or steps that your employees will take to meet your set goal. With that in mind, you need to develop actionable steps. Your employees should use these steps to solve current problems within your company.


To start, write down current issues that your company is facing.


Consult the team you constructed. Talk to senior management. Look at past trends in your business.


Take a look at anything that you can fix or improve. With your team, brainstorm effective ways to approach these problems. Then, develop SMART goals for your team to meet.


This step is simply a brainstorming process. You are not writing down your to-do list for the next few months. Instead, you're thinking about what kind of processes you can come up with on your own.


5. Get more specific


Now that you have a few basic ideas, it's time to get more detailed. Take those significant steps that you brainstormed before. Then, look more at how you can specify those ideas into steps.


This may include looking at variations of those ideas. This includes evaluating exceptions to those ideas. Plus, you should determine interdependent or supported processes.


Your team should get together and look at all those big ideas and craft specific steps for each big picture. You should polish these steps enough to show them to senior management. This is no longer a brainstorming session.

Getting more specific this early in the process may seem premature. But, it can help make more complex decisions.


The framework requires balance, but you have to start somewhere. If you have nothing to balance, there's no point in using the framework.


Collect these more detailed ideas. They are going to be the beginning of your transformative experience. You have the people and the processes. Now, you need to make adjustments to those two ideas and technology in the future.


6. Review the process


As we said, these steps should be specific enough to show other people in your business. More specifically, we want you to share these processes with your stakeholders.

Make sure that your stakeholders know what you expect from them. Let them be honest about gaps or issues in your plans.


Use these tips for influencing your stakeholders while you're sharing your plans.


While this isn't a final draft, it is a substantial part of implementing the framework in your workplace. If you're making mistakes now, you want to fix them as soon as possible.


Top it off with technology


Now, you're finally going to use your technology. Most companies consider technology last. It is the easiest to overpower the other two components.


As we discussed, managers often get overwhelmed with new, innovative technologies. Let's talk about how to balance technologies with your existing people and processes.


7. Don't force it


You should never feel the need to force technologies into your workplace. You should only be looking at technologies supporting the people in the processes you already have in place.


Many managers feel the need to fit people and processes around the technologies that they use. But, this is backward and can lead to failure.


Organizations that involve themselves in information security may want to start with technology. Then, they can follow up with people and processes.


Remember, information security organizations should depend more on technology. Start there, then have the other elements follow that trend. Just the same as other organizations, you shouldn't force any technology to work when it doesn't.


8. Connecting everything together


Now that you've got your technology together with your people and processes, it's time to connect everything. In other words, it's time to maintain the balance that you've set in place.


Don't let any of the components overpower the others, and remember the order that we've just given you for structuring your framework:


  1. People
  2. Processes
  3. Technologies


Technology-focused companies may reverse the steps. Since these companies focus on technology use, they'll find more success with an altered approach.


Conclusion


Balancing the People, Process, Technology Framework isn't easy. It takes constant management and restructuring.

You're going to make changes as you go.


If you want to make sure that you're using the framework correctly, you need to look at your communication methods. Also, you need to make sure that all your team members understand their part in implementing the framework.


Here at TrueNxus, our project management software can help you. Our clients use our software to organize their company's cross-functional strategic initiatives.


Try TrueNxus for free for two weeks.