Delivering a digital strategy

K2 Australia

By Tony Roupell, Technical Specialist, K2
Monday, 27 June, 2016


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Here’s what you should do when the clock is ticking and pressure is mounting on you to deliver.

Your organisation has a digital strategy. The bigwigs have signed off on all the paperwork and the mothership has now been set on a course to embrace technology, in order to do better business. But it’s time for a reality check:

  • Your users are still in a world pain pushing paper;
  • Your processes are old, unstructured, complicated and costing money;
  • You’re evaluating every kind of software imaginable and each comes with a hefty licensing cost, so there goes your budget;
  • Previous attempts to digitise or automate processes have taken longer than expected.

So let’s circle back and ask, why have you decided to go down the path of digitising your business? Is it because you want to create a better customer experience? Are you wasting time on manual processes? Are you duplicating effort capturing data into multiple systems?

These are all compelling reasons, but on reflection you are most likely not going to be driven to drastically change the way you do business and spend valuable dollars for these reasons alone. Your organisation’s primary goal is to keep the doors open and put money in the bank. Even if you’re a not-for-profit organisation, you still need to pay the salaries. So any way to increase the bank account will make a good use case for implementing a successful digital strategy.

Let’s use this as a starting point and work through five important steps.

Step 1: Identify pain points. Do any of these ring a bell?

  • We’re losing customers to the competition because they have a better level of service;
  • We’re losing customers because our paper-based forms are painful;
  • Customer complaints are rising because of inefficiency;
  • Our whole process is paper or Excel based, and we’re spending huge dollars on salaries to keep the doors open;
  • Our project costs are over inflated, we’re losing deals and customers are unhappy because of cost overruns.

Step 2: Analyse and prioritise. Implement a continuous improvement program at all levels of the business management, to analyse and prioritise the pain points that would benefit from digital improvement and put dollars in the bank.

Step 3: Investigate. Investigate each pain point for areas of assumption, confusion and apathy. An example of an assumption is that a tender process must be followed in a specific scenario, ‘because that’s the way we have always done it’. Yet all that was achieved was an inflated project budget and uncompetitive rates.

Overlap of functions, budgets and agendas creates areas of confusion that should be continually investigated to ensure that all parties are aligned to focus on keeping the doors open and money in the bank.

As far as apathy goes, the likelihood is that business users will be aware that their processes are inefficient. They are most likely not in a position to do anything about it, and continue to follow the same inefficient process because ‘that’s the way we do business’.

Step 4: Access, evaluate, learn and mature. You should expect that users will mature through a process of documenting, defining and implementing their own processes. This could place high demand on the IT department and create an area of confusion and ambiguity. As users mature they will continually raise the requirements for new processes.

Step 5: Evaluate technology options. Technology is an important consideration and an enabler to addressing assumptions, confusion and apathy if applied correctly, but can be debilitating if the incorrect choices are made up-front. You need to consider workflow and process requirements, electronic form requirements, business applications and cloud and integration.

Many have tried and failed when trying to leverage workflow capability embedded in other systems (CRM, SharePoint, ERP) to address the workflow requirements of the entire business. The workflow solutions within these systems are designed to work within the parameters of the system. The moment you try to use it beyond what it was designed for, you’ll open yourself up to a world of pain.

With electronic forms, you need a solution that spans desktop and mobile devices. Forms that are not tied into your data and designed to make life easier for users will just lead to frustration and pain. Leveraging the built-in forms capability of existing line-of-business systems might seem like an easy solution, but more often than not will lead to headaches when you want to upgrade or replace the platform, leading to cost blowouts.

You also need to deliver end-to-end business applications to support the business and reduce licensing costs. For example, you might start with a simple complaints form on your website. But to truly manage complaints effectively and improve customer service, you need a backend system to manage the cycle across departments, with tracking, dashboards and reports.

You might find yourself pressured to transition from on-premises applications to cloud-hosted solutions. A cloud-only strategy can paint you into a corner, and allowing the business to sign up for quick-and-easy, feature-poor cloud solutions can be a nightmare. Being held to ransom by cloud providers is an all-too-common occurrence.

Where to now?

In summary, you need to consider a best-of-breed platform that offers: integrated forms and workflow; rapid application development capability; design tools to empower different audiences (eg, developers, citizen developers); ability to cross platforms, whether on-premises or cloud based; and a single platform for desktop and mobile solutions.

Success will come from understanding that the implementation of a digital strategy is a journey and will require the organisation to mature at all levels.

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