Surely no-one has ever said, "digital transformation--that sounds easy." Nor should they. Anything that truly lives up to the moniker of "transformation" regarding how your company operates should be treated with a sincere respect.
It would be naive to think your organization could simply reposition itself as a technological innovator within your industry with a little attention paid here and there, in your spare time, to the task of transforming.
What I believe is often lost in the conversation is that digital transformation isn't a task list or a project. It's a concept, a methodology, and a new way of "how we do it here." It's not a gutting of everything you have to replace it with something new and high tech all at once (can you imagine the disaster?). Instead we like to think of it as a snowball effect, something that starts very small and gains momentum as the results start to roll in.
Start With Low Hanging Fruit
Every business in different, but I can think of a few things most of them have in common that are ripe for technology and automation.
Digital transformation isn't a task list or a project. It's a concept, a methodology, and a new way of "how we do it here."
Create Buffers Between People and Processes
If you have a process in two individuals must exchange information, documents, etc, creating a small system where that information is held in waiting can create efficiency and visibility. The most simple type of buffer might be a stack of papers on a desk. Papers can be added to the pile while the backlog is processed.
But, if you are able to capture buffer with a technology tool, you immediately expose insights and metrics that can be monitored and tracked. How long do papers tend to stay in the stack? How often are they sent back? Is this process overloaded and in need of additional human resources? All these questions can be answered in real time with a relatively simple process enforced by software.
Make Data Entry Easy (For Internal and External Users)
A guided form for data entry is often more convenient and less error prone than a spreadsheet or email.
Just because data eventually needs to end up in that database or accounting system doesn't mean the end user has to use that system to enter the data. One of the biggest obstacles to building processes and systems is overcoming hurdles that prevent user adoption. Ease of use and user experience will be the different between a process everyone adopts or one everyone works around.
Do you have customers that phone in orders or fax in specifications? Introducing a simple web order-entry platform is a way to make it easy for your customers to work with you, while freeing up your employees to make more meaningful contributions to your organization than copying details over the phone into a spreadsheet.
Get Critical Data Out of Spreadsheets and Into the Cloud
We built Delegate (www.delegatehq.com) to get critical business processes out of spreadsheets and into the cloud for teammates to collaborate on.
I'm not going to advocate that spreadsheets are a thing of the past or something we should avoid in business. One look at my Google Sheets account tells a different story. That said, anytime your organization functions on a process in which critical information lives in a spreadsheet on an individual's computer, you have a big opportunity to create new efficiencies and visibility.
Fortunately, spreadsheet data (or, tabular data more generically) continues to be a foundational storage tool for software systems--we just use databases instead of spreadsheets. If you can do it in a spreadsheet, you can do it at 1000x the scale in a database. And, if you can store it in a database, the sky is absolutely the limit on how software can present, pivot, and otherwise slice and dice the data, no rows and columns required.
How We Can Get You Started
At Lofty, we recognize that digital transformation isn't always attacked with big 5-year project plans and multi-million dollar budgets. It's one of the reasons we created the Microproject--Lofty's results oriented process for delivering meaningful impact with a custom software project in less than 6 weeks.
Whether we attack several pieces of low hanging fruit, or we carve out one particular pain point and go deep, our process ensures successful outcomes through proactive planning, realistic deliverables, and a focus on business results.