I recently celebrated a DIY project. I was able to fix my snowblower thanks to a YouTube video and about $10 worth of parts I ordered online. A simple task for some, but for me (NOT mechanically inclined at all), it’s a real achievement worth celebrating. Wouldn’t it be nice if fixing your business processes were as simple as a how-to guide or instructional YouTube video? Unfortunately, the digital transformation process is not only a bit more complex but also a journey that can be laden with challenges, enlightenment, hiccups and roadblocks. Some of these experiences will be created by the limitations of current tools, the members of the team or just how the business is structured. But at the end of the day, it’s a journey worth taking and an achievement you will celebrate.
Thinking it’s too big of an undertaking or not in the budget? Fear not my solution-finding friends. Time and time again, we’ve seen businesses bogged down with crazy amounts of paper and time-consuming manual processes transform into a more efficient, streamlined company that is making better use of their people and their business tools. It is possible and has become a necessary endeavor to be successful in today’s business world. Many organizations find success in rolling out a solution incrementally, for example HR or AP first and then expanding it into other areas of the business.
To assist while you pontificate where your business improvement opportunities lie, I’ve offered a few recommendations that can help pave the way to smoother travels on your digital transformation journey.
Please don’t ask for a demo outta the gate. Yep, we can do it. And if you demand that we immediately show you all the bells and whistles from A-Z we will do it. But if you’ve worked for more than one company, you know that every business runs differently. Yes, every company has core elements/departments that are the same (HR, AP, AR, etc.) but inside those departments the process, people & current tools can be very different. As a vendor, we know you want to see the software and its capabilities. However, we don’t want to waste your time showing you things that aren’t applicable to your business needs or don’t work with the tools you already have in place. Instead, let’s have a productive discussion about your goals, objectives and business processes so we can provide you with an impactful demo that zeros in on what matters to you and what will help transform your business. Sure, we’re happy to show off our software and demo what we have done for other businesses but ultimately, it’s what we can do for YOUR BUSINESS that should matter to you the most.
Do your homework – Before you boot up your computer and start googling digital transformation vendors, there is some internal work that needs to be done. Any good content services vendor is going to have a list of discovery questions about your current business structure, processes, tools and people. Questions like:
- How many people work in the department today?
- How are you currently capturing documents/info?
- How many documents/invoices/appeals/etc. are your processing daily?
- What is the current cost per document/invoice/appeal/etc.?
- What other LOB applications are you using?
- How many forms do you currently use?
- How many templates do you currently have?
These are just a few questions to give you an idea, but you should know the answers prior to asking a vendor for demos or costs. Questions/answers presented during discovery are crucial to understanding your process, identifying bottlenecks and most importantly providing the info we need to be as accurate as possible on the scope of your project and estimated costs. The more information gathering you can do prior to talking with prospective partners, the more effective those discussions will be and the more realistic the project portfolio built for you will be. We recommend including team members throughout the business process in your discussions about process improvement, challenges, bottlenecks and areas for improvement. The workers who manage these processes know and understand some of the ins and out better than anyone and can help identify specific areas of opportunity. Their input can make the difference between effective process improvement and making a poor process a little faster. Their buy-in to new processes and new software can also make the go-live and roll out less challenging down the road.
Anticipate speed bumps – Yep, as they say…even the best laid plans of mice and men go awry. What you want to do and the time-frame you want to do it in may happen but be prepared that it also may not. Process improvement is not a simple task. It’s not always black/white and although most of us are uncomfortable living in that gray area, sometimes it’s a necessary evil. Going into a digital transformation project with an open mind and a willingness to take a detour if/when necessary will serve you well in the long run. Other than you, nobody wants your project to be on time and on budget more than we do and we want you to be impressed with the results. We will listen and do everything we can to meet your goals, but we will also be realistic with you about what’s possible and express our concerns, ideas and thoughts along the way. You know your business and we’ve been a part of hundreds of projects. We have seen plenty of successes and we’ve also seen projects that ended in disappointing results. Working together to navigate any detours is the quickest means to success at the end of the project. So be prepared and be flexible where and when you can, knowing that a responsible partner will make recommendations or raise concerns when it is critical to the success of your project.
What is your post op plan? – You don’t expect a doctor to perform your surgery and once it’s done walk away never to be seen again. The same concept applies to your project. There is post-op care, rehab & possibly lifestyle changes that are required to keep your system healthy. When you’re thinking about your next digital transformation project don’t overlook what post-project care you will need. Just like our body, it would be great if technology worked at peak performance all the time, never broke and you were always prepared with someone on staff who was an expert system administrator. But we all know that’s not the world we live in. Be sure to think about:
You’ll put a ton of blood, sweat and tears into building, implementing and ensuring this projects success so don’t get 99% of the way there and not support its ongoing care.
It’s not actually about you. Say what? Yes, you heard me right. Digital transformation starts within your organization and is great for improving efficiency, increasing visibility, yada, yada, yada. But ultimately why are all those things important? Because they serve your customers. Whether you refer to them as customers, prospects, patients, constituents, members or any other adjective to describe the people you ultimately serve – they are the reason. The benefits of digital transformation zero in on improving the experience that people have with your organization. From access to info, faster service, personalized resources and providing the most value to your end user, these are all directly related to your processes and efficiency. A recent Harvard Business Review survey found that 40% of respondents named customer experience as their top priority for digital transformation. Ask yourself (or better yet ask your customers!) how can we use DT to improve the experience customers have with our organization?
After reading all that can you imagine trying to explain it in a DIY YouTube video clip? Like most technology, certain tools are better designed for certain projects! I do wish I could wrap up a nice process automation package for you, but I’d be doing you a disservice. Instead, I recommend the following:
- Research & understand your current process so you can provide a detailed snapshot of where you are today. (discovery)
- Investigate and develop realistic goals/expectations. (what are industry best practices?)
- Identify industry-leading digital transformation products and take the time to walk through your project with a couple of them.
- Request a demo. Be sure to ask the vendor to include all the features you want to see & have them come prepared with new ideas/recommendations they have for you.
- Obtain a complete project plan & quote from multiple vendors. (cheapest isn’t always best)
- Talk to references and other industry resources to hear their experiences.
- Choose a vendor that offers a product with the most flexibility (can the solution grow/expand as your company/needs expand?), is a realistic option for your budget and is the best fit for your organization.
- Get to work & good luck!