Digital Operations Means Thinking Digitally First
Digital Operations and Business Transformation
"Digital Operations" means enabling 24X7 anywhere access to work in an efficient, user-friendly, measurable digital environment.
The impact of moving your business operations to the cloud and other digital platforms can be significant. We'll cover the benefits and process of transforming your operations in this article.
Benefits of Digital Operations
More time for strategic work
There are a few different reasons why decision-making improves when operations become digital.
Fewer decisions need to be made manually thanks to business rules that automatically route information based on preset conditions. For instance, if someone normally decides who to send a new invoice for approval based on the content of the invoice (by manually reviewing the vendor, amount, or type), that decision is now made automatically when the invoice is received based on the vendor, amount, or type. This might be done using an email monitor or by using a fully digital invoice submission system.
Taking away these simple, logic-based decisions reduces employee decision fatigue.
When decisions happen instantly, turnaround times are more streamlined. But that's just the start of how digitization speeds up business processes. Consider the impact of alerts, reminders, and escalations on task completion time. When employees no longer have to rely on their own memory or individual task lists to complete tasks, work is completed faster. In addition, bottlenecks can more easily be discovered and corrected when processes are more visible.
Better customer service
Faster turnaround times and accountability internally are always a benefit to customers, whether those customers are external or internal. Shorter wait times and transparency give customers the confidence that their needs are important and being taken seriously. That goodwill goes a long way.
Decision automation and better data capture are key components of maintaining compliance and reducing errors. Audit trails show a full picture of activity including when tasks were completed and by whom. These audits can be used in compliance audits to show the proper actions were taken by the correct party.
More time for strategic work
When simple decisions and tasks are removed from employees' plates, their time can be spent thinking strategically and focusing on complex problems that require creative solutions rather than rote decisions. In addition, thanks to all the data now being generated around their work strategies can be developed about working smarter and more efficiently.
A better employee experience
Employees like to feel their work adds value to the organization while providing the best possible customer service. When employees can see their impact and aren't mired in low-quality, boring day-to-day work their morale improves and they can think more creatively. This inspires innovation and loyalty.
So how do you transform your business or department with digital operations management? First and foremost it means thinking digitally over analog when you think about how work gets done. The most obvious area of operations to digitally transform is taking analog work and digitizing it. Analog work could be a variety of tasks including:
- Paper-based systems
- Phone calls
- In-person meetings
- Manual checks or check-ins (status meetings, inventory, etc.)
- Basic decision-making
Each of these analog tasks has a twin in the digital space. For paper-based information, it's electronic files and forms. For phone calls, it could be instant messages or emails. For in-person meetings, it could be video conferencing or virtual reality.
Looking across your department, or the entire organization, identify processes that could (and probably should) be digitized and automated. This list should be validated and prioritized by effort and potential impact. For more on putting this list together and documenting processes, see our blog posts "Planning for Workflow Automation" and "How to Design a Process."
You need to be agile
When building out your operational infrastructure, you need to be agile and not tied down by huge enterprise systems. That's not to say you shouldn't invest in ERP, CRM, Accounting Systems, etc., they are still key parts of your infrastructure. However, if you want to easily adapt to change, either internally or from outside forces, you can't rely on any one system to do everything.
In addition, your approach to operations needs to become fluid and responsive. When internal or external pressures affect your productivity and strategy, making changes to work processes needs to be rapid and predictable. Digital operations are better prepared for these changes but that's not enough.
- Plan ahead to eliminate risk
- Consider change management
- Build a culture of continuous improvement
Interested in Digitally Transforming Your Operations?
We have a variety of resources to help you on your journey to find digital operations solutions.