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It’s a challenge that’s been discussed in boardrooms for years: how to harness evolving technologies to transform and improve the way a business functions.
Yet despite its well-documented benefits, digital transformation is still not being achieved by a significant number of organisations. According to a Forrester Report, The Sorry State of Digital Transformation in 2018, while 56 per cent of firms say they are transforming, their level of investment and the scope of their outcomes remains mostly small.
The report also found a further 22 per cent of firms are investigating or not yet pursuing digital transformation, while just 21 per cent believe that their transformation is complete.
Taking a different approach
The way in which many organisations currently build software and automate processes doesn’t lend itself to successful digital transformation. While they might address obvious pain points in existing workflows, this doesn’t go far enough. Instead, it tends to automate individual processes without adequately considering how they interconnect with others.
This is a missed opportunity, as digital transformation relies on the deployment of more streamlined and efficient digital processes. By automating repetitive and highly manual tasks, organisations can save considerable time that can be used in more valuable areas. This lies at the heart of true digital transformation – using powerful technology to increase productivity and efficiency dramatically.
Six key steps should be followed when undertaking a digital transformation strategy:
- Process mapping: The first step is to identify and document all the existing processes within the organisation. This makes it easier to identify areas where automation can be implemented for the maximum impact.
- Initial implementation: It’s key to start any deployment with small steps. Single processes can be automated and the benefits examined. Staff should be informed about what changes are being made and what this means for them.
- Roll out: Once a number of small processes have been successfully automated, larger processes can be targeted. Care should be taken that the changes don’t disrupt day-to-day activity and follow pre-determined guidelines.
- Appoint process champions: Early adopters who are keen to communicate the benefits to their colleagues will emerge when the new streamlined processes go live. These process champions should be encouraged to ensure widespread adoption.
- Build momentum: As an increasing number of processes are automated, and the digital transformation process gathers steam, excitement will build. More staff will understand why the changes are being made and the benefits they deliver.
- Monitor continually: Once the changes are complete, ongoing monitoring and evaluation are needed to ensure that processes remain valid and efficient. Any required changes should be made swiftly to ensure that productivity and efficiency gains are retained.
Preparing for the future
As well as creating more efficient operations now, digital transformation and process automation ensure an organisation is best placed to withstand future challenges. It also supports more informed decision making, as initiatives can be mapped and assessed in line with long-term business objectives.
Process automation helps to support effective incident responses when disruptions and disasters occur. Stakeholders can collaborate to map and automate their processes, ensuring faster response rates and limiting the impact on the organisation.
Such automation also helps to maintain robust and open lines of communication throughout an organisation, which is essential for business flexibility and survival. Having to rely on complicated, manual methods hinders responses and leads to additional costs and impacts.
Embracing digital transformation and process automation allows an organisation to be confident it has the measures in place to cope with incidents as they occur. Staff can continue to function and serve clients, even when operations need to be shifted to different locations.
Taking the time to complete a transformation project today will ensure it can be business as usual tomorrow.