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Considerations When Approaching a Digital Transformation

September 16th, 2020 by Brad Yocum

Digital transformation

For many years now, we have all heard the term “Digital Transformation.” .” What does that mean to our organization? Can we survive without paper? What is the cost, and can my staff even adopt the concept? There are so many questions that must go thru leaders’ minds when considering a “Digital Transformation.”

There is no denying that we are in the age critical information is compounding daily in businesses currently. How do we organize this information? How can we make this information easily accessible to the right people? What are the best ways to secure this information? These and many more continuously present challenges to business owners and leaders.

What are the pitfalls and potential traps? The fear of change is justified by the ramifications of a failed digital transformation. The following questions should be considered when approaching:

  • What are all the costs associated with an implementation?

    Does your staff have the needed tools to be useful when you change communication and processes to a digital format? Network infrastructure and server capabilities need to be evaluated to understand if they can accommodate the additional traffic. Are there sufficient storage capabilities for the data you would like to retain? You must also determine if you have staff that works remotely or travels. How are they going to access their data, and do they have the right tools?

  • How do I find qualified developers and implementers?

    Ask other organizations that you are familiar with about their experiences. You should ask for multiple references to ensure an organization's expertise in implementing a digital transformation. Do they have readily available staff to assist with questions and challenges that come up after the initial rollout?

  • Will my staff adopt new processes?

    It is good practice to involve multiple levels of staff that would be included in the change. Choosing an area or department that you know has a desire to improve their current situation is a great place to start. You will significantly increase the level of excitement and participation. By involving them early in the process will encourage “buy-in” from the start. Pick a process or area that is well defined and could produce a significant ROI. Starting small and defined can allow you to achieve success before rolling out to larger scopes and personnel.

  • What if my staff is not able to change their way of working?

    Avoid starting with areas where you believe personnel does not want to change, even if there is a perceived benefit. Even if the staff is non-decision making, they can cause the transition to be challenging and unsuccessful. You may also need to consider if the current team can make such a transition.

  • What additional responsibilities will my IT staff be required to take on?

    IT typically already has a full plate and not looking for new projects. Find a partner that can provide a well-defined scope of work. Clear expectations for both the implementer and customer will relieve the inhouse IT of unknown responsibilities and requirements of the infrastructure.

  • What to do with all the paper we currently have?

    Companies may have large amounts of hard paper documents. There are a few directions you can take:

    1. Hiring a company to scan all these documents and provide in a digital format could be the costliest. Do you need these in digital form? Are there any retention requirements for your industry? How frequently does staff need to access this information?
    2. Take a point-forward approach by transitioning all new information in digital format. Have staff members that organize the paper documents, and scan the data to support the new processes. This option could be the least costly.
    3. The last option would be to have staff do the backfile scanning internally. This option gives you the ability to choose what documents and how far back you go to transition. There are a variety of scanning applications that can assist with the speed and accuracy of which this takes place.
  • Will this cause more work for my staff because of failed implementation?

    Even if everything looks good on paper, and you believe it is cost-justified, the project could fail with poor implementation. Going back to previous comments, you need to vet the company providing the services. Check online reviews, ask for references, and meet the leaders that oversee the organization. If you have relationships at many levels, your project will have more personal interest.

  • How do we keep the scope of the project defined and not get too big?

    Start small and well-defined. Choose areas you know want to improve their situation and productivity. Pick areas that you have defined an ROI that is desirable to your company.

    As we have just discussed, there are many things to consider before starting a digital or paperless transition. But, if you do that well, the benefits can be tremendous.

  • Information is easily accessible to administrative and leadership staff.

    You will provide infinitely better access to information in a much shorter timeframe. You will also provide this information that can be accessed thru a variety of ways and devices.

  • Remote workers will have better support.

    With the current global challenges of keeping personal distance, more people are working away from the office. If your processes and information is in a digital format, your staff is far more likely to be more efficient.

  • Able to process more work without adding additional staff.

    Your most expensive and variable asset is people. What if you could help them be more productive and do more with less. What does that do to your profitability and ability to grow with less overhead?

  • Better security of critical information.

    Even with all this improved access, you will have far better control and security over your information. Content Management Systems allow you to track all movement, touches, and changes to any information it contains. It will also protect the information in its original form and all changes that took place afterward while telling you what parties viewed or made such changes. You can also protect the data to only parties that can see critical information.

  • Increase the accuracy of repeatable processes that rely on being correct.

    Automated processes provide several benefits for ones that are repetitive and rely on accuracy. Any position that requires a large amount of data entry should be evaluated for the possibility of automating. Human error can be common in these areas. The ROI can be very advantageous.

  • Provide metrics to understand the efficiency of staff and processes more efficiently.

    When automating these processes, you will receive additional benefits. Having these in digital format will allow you to evaluate metrics to ensure efficiency. Any errors can be identified quickly. How much can be processed and what resources are more effective become very evident. Additionally, more business intelligence can be established to make better decisions for the organization.

  • Develop the ability to use your Data for Business Intelligence.

    Organizations are continually looking to mine their data to make better decisions for the direction of the company. What are your most profitable products and customers? Who are the best vendors to deal with and the most advantageous terms, delivery response, and pricing?

Correctly approached, the benefits of a Digital Transformation can be tremendous for your organization. But, you must be mindful of the pitfalls that could be experienced. We hope that many of the suggestions are helpful. We at Function4 would be happy to discuss further and provide insight from the dozens of organizations we have assisted in the past.

Posted in: Business Technology