Blog: Transformation – Easy to say but difficult to do
Transformation – easy to say but difficult to do
By Gary Clark
How many other businesses do you know that are embarking on, planning on embarking on, or are in the process of a programme of change under the heading ‘transformation’, or more frequently ‘digital transformation’. And how many of these programmes do you know that have been completed and have fulfilled the original vision?
There are many obstacles to the achievement of digital transformation:
- People – as ever the hardest part of achieving any change is that of bringing people with you, both the customers that do not want to go digital and the staff that aren’t that keen either! If people do not want to engage digitally then a decision needs to be made whether to encourage (customers) or enforce (staff) into going digital or whether digital is simply one option within your service delivery portfolio.
- Processes – many business processes contain a series of checks within them that will require manual intervention before the process can proceed. The phrase ‘digital by default’ refers to processes, that a process will by default be completed digitally without manual intervention. Many people now prefer the phrase ‘digital by design’ referring to processes that have been designed to be completed digitally without manual intervention (although manual options remain).
- IT systems – most registered providers operate with complex information architectures of multiple systems and spreadsheets. How many systems do you have in use? What do they do? Do they talk to each other? Are they individually, and together, fit for purpose? Core applications that do not meet your needs will be worked around in spreadsheets by your colleagues, and immediately automation becomes difficult if not impossible.
- Data – digital systems need data and if the data is out of date, incomplete, inaccurate or inaccessible then the digital systems will fail. Workflows are often triggered by an event happening or not happening. If the data is incomplete, inaccurate or not timely then a workflow may be triggered when it shouldn’t be and vice versa. When customers and staff are encouraged to access your systems through a portal, if the data fails any quality dimension then at best the portal will be unhelpful and at worse you can suffer reputational damage from publishing poor quality data.
If you want to run a successful digital transformation programme you will need to:
- Engage with people, have a clear vision and communicate it well. Some people won’t like it but others will be inspired and enthused. Consider options for digital inclusion of both customers and staff, and consider Plan B options for both groups where digitisation is not going to be the answer.
- Review and re-engineer processes. Focus on current manual interventions such as approvals and authorisations, and determine whether these are really needed; and where they are, identify digital solutions that will deliver the same or improved levels of assurance.
- Identify all your applications in use and map your data flows to track down all the spreadsheets. Review the applications, can they be reconfigured to better meet your requirements? Can you consolidate applications to minimise the number of applications in use? And then ensure that integration is provided where data needs to move between different applications.
- Ensure your data is clean and that you have systems in place to maintain the quality. Have you developed a data dictionary? Have you agreed your data standards? And have you put governance in place?
- Resource it well, ensuring that you have experienced transformation managers in place to support the internal team and deliver knowledge transfer.
- Know what your success factors are, have a clear set of baseline measures and re-measure them at key milestones throughout the life of the programme.
There is no perfect template for transformation however taking a planned approach, engaging all key stakeholders, resourcing it well and ensuring your data and processes are in harmony will help deliver success.