Digital Transformation | 5 Step Practical Roadmap For Digital Transformation

 
 

Leading digital transformation and data science experts like Bill Schmarzo say that Digital Transformation should be EVERY organisations’ #1 strategic business initiative.

Below is a practical guide on how you can implement digital transformation in your business. 5 things that will have a big impact and accelerate innovation.

Process automation and improving efficiencies are at the core of digital transformation. Organisations must be more vigilant than ever in remaining innovative and future-proofing their businesses. This is critical in remaining profitable and competitive.

On average, “digital masters” are 26% more profitable than their peers according to George Westerman, Principal Research Scientist with the MIT Sloan Initiative on the Digital Economy and author of Leading Digital: Turning Technology Into Business Transformation.

Digital Transformation Defined

There are many definitions of digital transformation. Think of it as a shift in philosophy. Digital transformation will allow an organisation to quickly adapt to new changes and opportunities through making the most of technology.

It is the process of using digital technologies to create new or modify existing business processes and culture to deliver a better customer experience.

Digital transformation marks a radical rethinking of how an organization uses technology, people and processes to fundamentally change business performance. Digital masters do two things better than other companies: identifying digital ways to change their businesses, and building leadership capabilities to drive transformation, according to George Westerman.

As employees, our everyday work life is filled with digital technology and yet the reliance on manual, paper-based processes and systems is still huge. We know what we know, and sometimes miss the opportunities provided by today’s platforms to improve our business operations. Simple fixes that capture data electronically, autmoate processes and provide new insights. The real value is in acting on the data we collect.

5 Tangible Steps to Transform your Business.

Step 1. Centralised Document Management

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Today I spent close to an hour looking for a document. I wanted to use a file i’d created which had a lot of historical data and a good process document for a project we completed around business intelligence. For some reason, I didn't save this document to our document repository (M-Files) and it's lost somewhere on 1 of the 6 devices I use regularly. In contrast, I was able to collaborate with our marketing manager on an event plan and save my changes to his document. All with version control and from my mobile phone because it was saved in the repository.

Centralised document management is powerful, and it can be simple and quick to deploy.

Enterprise Content Management enables:

  • A central place for documents

  • Powerful search

  • Collaboration on documents, sharing and co-authoring

  • Security - Only the right staff see particular documents and you have digital copies

  • Eliminate duplicates

  • Workflows to automate processes

  • Version control and easy to restore documents without needing IT

Step 2. Digitise Paper Forms

Unlock efficiencies by digitising files. Reduce errors, lower risk and open the door for process automation and new insights.

Think of the new employee onboarding process for HR as an example. There are lots of forms, social media policies, privacy policies, payroll information and so on. All of this is repeatable when a new employee joins or leaves the organisation.

Instead of paper forms, you can easily create digital versions that work with mobile devices and enable your new staff hit the ground running, instead of getting up to speed for a week or more before they can contribute to your business. Apply digital forms to repetitive processes.

Did you know that even some of the largest vendors of software products still needed their employees to send in paper receipts for expense claims? Not all vendors embrace their own technology and someone has to physically validate the receipts and there was no way to efficiently pick up on duplicates or fraud. Smarter organisations like the Australian Tax Office now use predictive analytics tools to pick up on anomalies and provide new opportunities to detect fraud.

Did you know that you can quickly digitise paper forms using affordable platforms? Low-code, drag and drop platforms like Intrexx make it easy for virtually any employee to create e-forms which work on mobile devices and they can be plugged into a workflow to automate a manual process like an expense claim or a pricing request approval.

3. Automate Processes

You have the data, use it. Low-code platforms and ECM solutions can help here. As mentioned above, inputs from e-forms like an expense claim or a leave request can be connected to a workflow to automate the approval for such requests. Rules can be applied and a query against a database can automatically check if an employee has the leave entitlement they are requesting. If that leave is available, the system sends an approval that can be completed by a manager from their mobile device. This saves time and provides instant approvals with self-service applications.

4. Connect to Business Systems

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Data collected from e-forms will be more valuable if it is connected to a business system. For example, the accounts receivable process (AR) will work more efficiently if invoices are connected to an accounting or ERP system like Xero or SAP. Workflows will automate a process and make it more efficient. Invoices can be automatically scanned, routed to the next step of the approval process, fields can be prefilled and the invoice can be sent to the right person to sign-off and complete the transaction. Connecting business systems will enable a holistic view and opportunities for better reporting.

5. New Insights. Analyse and Act on New Opportunities.

Digital transformation creates new data and the value realised when you can analyse and action it.

Take advantage of opportunities created by new views and a fresh perspective.

Centralising documents increases efficiency and enables productivity. The opportunity for better collaboration and process automation through workflow is now possible.

Digital forms save time and let you capture, automate and analyse data trapped in paper documents. Risk and compliance is improved with access to digital documents and if someone leaves the organisation, you still have control over valuable intellectual property.

You can transform the way your business operates with what you have achieved through digitising your business and developing digital processes. Electronic document management platforms and electronic forms provide access to operational data you can report on.

Analyse the data and look at trends, issues or opportunities to increase revenue. The reporting functionality of platforms has come a long way and should provide with a good baseline view for analysis. You can connect the data into operation dashboards or automate reporting using any of the major business intelligence (BI) and visualisation tools which are very powerful and affordable.

Digital transformation reduces administrative tasks and that directly helps staff to focus on their core job and higher-value tasks.

Summary

Digital transformation is all about efficiencies. Capturing data in digital forms enables automated processes and workflow. This is a key output from digital transformation and will transform the way a business operates. Digital transformation will help make a business smarter through new insights, leaner with increased efficiencies and more secure through reduced risk and improved compliance.

True digital transformation is a new way of thinking and applies to the whole business. In practice, you can start small and get some wins with things like digitising paper forms or implementing a central document repository. A phased approach will help you demonstrate what is possible and show a tangible result that is truly transformative. A better way of doing things that not only improves efficiency but also improves employee's job satisfaction by reducing the low value, repetitive tasks.

Want to know more? Take a look at the videos below or speak to us about how other companies have transformed their business. One small process can make a huge impact. Reach us here. We have been working with clients to get the most out of their technology for over 20 years.

BI | Why you need a plan to implement business intelligence.

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You want to get the most value out of any new business system implementation. Whether its new insights, automating management reports, a new operational dashboard or some predictive analytics to help make better decisions.

From our experience, a roadmap and some planning before you start development will help avoid the common issues that can cripple a business intelligence project. Resolving a disconnect with a major stakeholder halfway into a project is a challenging situation and it can be financially costly and bad for customer satisfaction.

At Advance, we’ve been working on implementing business systems for over 20 years and have seen it all. We’ve picked up the pieces of some very poorly implemented projects. Many of the challenges are common to all projects and some simple planning in the beginning will provide the best opportunity for a successful outcome.

  • Avoid the common traps and follow these steps. Spending some time on good planning early on will pay off in the long term.

 

1 - Get the main stakeholders in the same room.

Set up a short 1-hour meeting, outline the benefits and examples of successful BI projects. Get people excited about the project and what it will deliver. BI can free employees from manual, inefficient and low-value work. Managers can keep their team accountable and gain new insights on performance. Business owners can see key performance indicators instantly, even on their mobile devices. Mobile BI with instant messaging can provide an avenue for instant feedback so you can begin corrective actions.

  • Getting the key stakeholders onboard early is a major success factor to any project.

 

2 - Agree on the key problems you want to solve

There will be several problems you want to solve. Agree with the stakeholders on the 5 most important problems they want to resolve.

Write them down, define how the ideal solution looks, is it measurable, achievable, timely. It needs to be measurable!

Based on the discussion, prioritise. Depending on the feedback you might pursue a quick win, like automating a daily report or look at something bigger like a new dashboard linking a number of key business systems. BI will provide an opportunity to connect data from different sources like Excel, SAP, MYOB, Xero and Salesforce for example. This means you can get a holistic view of the business and connect data, something that was not possible with data silos.

3 - Agree on how success is measured with Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) 

Think of KPIs as the mechanism to make effective, data-driven decisions. You are far more likely to improve what you can measure. This is what underpins a successful data driven business

Agreeing on the right KPIs will help in driving the efforts of the company towards a meaningful outcome. To rally the team, you need to measure the right things.

  • Don’t share too many KPIs, as a data analyst you will lose your audience and overwhelm the typical employee.

KPIs vary from each department. Agree on something achievable like 10 KPIs max.  Below is a list of common finance KPIs relevant to most businesses:

 •   Working capital

•    Operating cash flow

•    Return on equity

•    Quick ratio

•    Debt to equity ratio

•    Inventory turnover

•    Accounts receivable turnover

•    Gross profit margin 

4 - Data

Getting access to the data is one of the first steps to building a BI solution. Map out the various systems used and get the ball rolling early on whether you have direct access or what data APIs will provide. 

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  • Access to the data can hold up any project. Dive in early to assess what you can get.  

We say do this early as some systems will provide different levels of access and data quality. More mature enterprise systems like SAP will more likely provide access to everything you need while other less mature vendors often need far more manipulation to get what you need. Perfect data is unlikely and getting access as soon as possible will help reduce delays caused by waiting on 3rd party vendors.  

A good data management framework will help to get the best possible data, the best data you can get will directly impact on insights. Test the answers and iron out any inconsistencies before rolling out the solution to a large audience.

  • Trust is hard to win back if the new system is not showing accurate information. Don't let this happen, if there is an issue, acknowledge it and resolve it.

5 - Action

Deploying a new system should drive new insights, new actions and opportunities. Use the new insights to make a positive step forward. Set up a system to action the data and new insights. First - Automate the delivery of reports, and have a clear strategy on what employees should do with this information. For sales teams, a weekly dashboard of KPIs will drive behaviours and actions. Make the most of this opportunity to get the team excited about new insights. Ensure the time to action KPIs is managed with clear deadlines.

Final Thoughts

  • Even if you achieve only a couple of the steps above, you will increase the likelihood of deploying a successful business intelligence solution.

We haven’t touched much on the software for BI and this really comes last. Each tool has its strengths and we tend to lean towards Power BI and Qlik just to be transparent. Most modern BI tools can get the desired outcome and some planning early in the cycle will make a big impact.

Like to know more? Contact us here or check out our blog on two leading BI solutions - Power BI and Qlik - Some interesting changes at Qlik and what to look for in a business intelligence solution.

 

BI | Drowning in Excel reports. Employee retention. Some unexpected benefits from deploying a business intelligence platform like Power BI and Qlik.

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Here is one recent example of how a business intelligence tool can deliver more than just new operational insights.

  • The client: Multiple systems, multiple sites, time and labour-intensive manual reporting

  • The result: Timely, automated reports, new insights with an instant feedback portal

  • Next Steps: Deployed to mobile with chat, user accountability and predictive analytics

Managing a business is very much about the people that you work with. The clients that rely on our services to run their business and the employees at Advance that are responsible for delivering these business systems. Clients and employees both need to have a good level of customer satisfaction or relationships can fall apart.

It was interesting to hear from my peers about situations where talented employees have left their jobs because of frustrations caused by data overload and using a process that is inefficient, manual, slow and often frustrating. There are times when work will be challenging and that is a part of life, but throwing more labour into a manual process to get the result is not a good long-term solution.

Companies that foster employee growth through technology innovation will improve staff retention. We try to adopt innovative tools early that are good value and this means our team is always learning new skills. The users of these solutions on the client side are eager to adopt a new system if it makes their work life easier and more productive.

Employee satisfaction and retention was an unexpected benefit from deploying a successful business intelligence platform.

Below is a BI solution we have been working on which is quite a common example where daily reporting is needed and there simply aren’t enough hours in a day to manually pull all of the data from the various branches and the 30+ systems. This type of reporting will cause frustration to any employee, especially if they are tasked with manually accessing each branch early every morning to build a complete view of the businesses performance.

The Challenge

  • Multiple sites, often in the double digits. 30 sites are not uncommon

  • Multiple disparate business systems across different locations, systems like Xero, MYOB, SAP, many others for HR functions and client facing systems

  • Be aware that although powerful, API’s are not built equally and something that performs well in a mature system like SAP may not provide the same data and consistency in something like MYOB. The ability to manipulate the data is a critical aspect of connecting multiple data sources

  • Time-consuming and labour-intensive manual reporting

  • The window for generating daily reporting not big enough to generate reports on time

  • Sites spread across multiple geographies and time zones

  • Manual, static Microsoft Excel reports to consolidate data into PowerPoint and then emailed each day

 

versus

 

Using Traditional Reporting Encountered Some Of These Challenges

  • Hardly scalable and very prone to human error

  • Time-consuming, manual and inefficient

  • Not a lot of fun. Repetitive tasks

  • Staff turnover is high

  • Inefficient with no automation

  • Slow

  • Missed opportunities

  • No forward projection or predictive analytics

  • Linking performance to industry systems that benchmark against competitors in the same industry was not possible

  • Reporting can look inconsistent and not well branded when required for management reporting

A Better Solution

  • A business intelligence solution connecting all of the systems and data into a single verified view of the truth

  • Automated, consistent, branded and uniformly formatted reports and dashboards

  • Dynamic insights that can be queried, drilled down for further detail

  • Automatic red flag warnings for KPI’s that are underperforming or outliers

  • Opportunities for further growth in positive KPI’s

  • Data pulled directly from each system, automatically calculated, verified and disturbed in minutes

  • Manageable distribution via internal systems like Slack or email to a selected user or group based on title or credentials

  • Connected to external data sources such as local weather to provide further insights and predictable analytics

  • Easily managed by employees without any special training

  • Portal for reporting commentary enabling stakeholder feedbacks

  • Secure and only the right people have access

KPI Pulse

The Results

  • Finance now quickly generate required reporting each day for 9:00AM reviews

  • Holistic reports for entire business across all 30 locations

  • New insights for things like revenue vs payroll

  • Automated reports are distributed each day to key stakeholders

  • Increased efficiency, productivity and employee satisfaction

  • Finance can focus on actions versus generating reports

  • Minimal manual reporting – there is always some needed and the human touch.

  • Consistent presentation with clear branding

  • Instant feedback on the numbers via comments on a secure portal

Final Thoughts

A well thought out BI implementation will connect all these business systems and inputs to build accurate business reports and dashboards. Smarter insights and visualisations with automated reporting will reduce risk and provide the feedback needed to manage a business effectively with a holistic view.

Enabling your team with valuable tools will teach them new skills and a reduction in manual inefficient processes will lead to better job satisfaction.

Tools like Qlik and Power BI are powerful, they will pull together all the systems so you can start building meaningful insights. Qlik is remarkably good at this. By linking to virtually any data source will let you manipulate data to build reports without the need for a data warehouse. The benefit is that it is more cost effective, quick to get answers, often within days not weeks. We have connected to a clients systems in a demonstration right there on the spot and built a report from a live system which is very compelling. Speed to new insights and value is a key benefit when using a tool like Qlik.

A Common Question

How do you get started? The first step to any project is getting access to the data.

If you would like to know more or have any questions about BI, get in touch with us here. We are passionate business intelligence experts.

Power BI


CONTACT OUR SALES TEAM - NIK VILLIOS | ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE

PHONE: +618 8238 6521

MOBILE: +61 408 800 753

EMAIL: NVILLIOS@ADVANCE.NET.AU

Digital Transformation | Innovators 2019 Kick Off Event - Recap

Advance Business Consulting held its SA Innovators 2019 Kick Off Event last Thursday evening, focusing on Innovation and Digital Transformation within various industries. Key speakers on the night included Elyse Mitani, Graham Berry (Mitani Group), Michael Auciello (Chemist King & PharmPack) & Julien Berteraut (Intrexx).


ECM | 4 Reasons M-Files Is The Best ECM Tool Available

People are creatures of habit. They hate making changes. If they have a problem, they quickly get used to it and come up with the solution they need to keep going. Despite this, more companies switch to M-Files every day. Why? Because it is the best ECM tool on the market. But don’t just take our word for it.

ECM | Is Your Document Management Process Losing You Money?

If you are like most businesses, you lose, on average, 2-4 hours a week rounding up everything you need. You don’t want to lose time searching for the documents you need, but you don’t have a choice. Your ECM software solution doesn’t match your needs.

BI | 7 Valuable Tips for Power BI

BI | 7 Valuable Tips for Power BI

Power BI is Microsoft’s interactive data visualisation and analytics tool for business intelligence (BI). Power BI is used to pull data from a wide range of systems within the cloud to create dashboards that track the metrics you care about the most, or drill in and (literally) ask questions about your data. Power BI allows you to create rich reports or embed dashboards and reports into reporting portals you already use.

M-Files 2018 – New Features and Enhancements Summary

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Intelligent Metadata Layer

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This is the latest enhancement from M-Files where it doesn’t matter where a document is stored or what system manages it, M-Files will provide easy access to it through their user interfaces and allow metadata to be edited and added. This is done with the aid of intelligence services that add a layer of artificial intelligence to M-Files.

Note that a license and setup is required (it doesn’t just happen out of the box)

IML External Connectors

Allows end users to use any M-Files interface to search, browse, edit, and add metadata to content located in repositories other than vaults by means of special vault applications known as connectors.

The image on the right shows install files stored in a file share being accessed via the M-Files interface. Video

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Introducing KPI Pulse

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Just over a year ago, I experienced a couple of light-bulb moments...

  • Not everyone is, nor do they want to be, a data analyst – it might sound obvious, but the way that everyone accesses and consumes data can vary dramatically, even if they perform similar roles. I found that some people would like to view data in table form, like a big spreadsheet; these are generally financial, accountant types. Sales and entrepreneurial types liked big numbers and graphs.
  • More work is being done away from our desks; at coffee shops or at client meetings. Therefore, having easy access to important metrics and data isn’t always possible.
  • Many operational staff regularly like an emailed report, only to open it up and search for an issue or a value that needs their attention.

I thought, how can I take QlikView (or Qlik Sense, Excel and more, for that matter) and make it easily available to anyone, so that they can consume the information the way they want to?

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The idea of KPI Pulse was created!

The concept was to have a locally installed publishing application which would automate the reloading of data into QlikView and then allow the designer to create a series of snapshots (they could be images like a graph, a complete dashboard, a data file or even a PDF report). These snapshots would then be available within a mobile app, a website, via email, a desktop app or even within Excel.

KPI Pulse was born!

We can now take QlikView metrics, personalise them for each user and push them up to your own secure cloud server. From there, these metrics are available on our mobile app, email, online Head Up Display, desktop app, Slack and Excel. We can schedule the distribution of key metrics any way you like and get everyone on the same page – aligned with your business performance goals.

Executives and managers can instantly see their own metrics on their phone, without needing to log in. If they then need to share that metric, they easily can with Slack, email or a text message.

You don’t need any extra QlikView licenses, allowing you to easily push metrics to all staff who require them, and even provide metrics within a website to your customers, clients or other stakeholders.

metrics made easy

KPI Pulse is easy!

Right from the start, my goal for KPI Pulse was to make it easy to distribute the great work that a QlikView Designer has done, getting relevant metrics to the right people, easily.

One of the great things about QlikView (and Qlik Sense) is that it’s like the Swiss Army Knife; it’s the one package that you need to learn, allowing you to do so much. When looking at other BI solutions, there’s always a stack of tools that you need to learn and use.

Now, with this one easy to use application, the reach and effectiveness of QlikView has become even more powerful.

Watch our quick video!

Contact us today to find out more about KPI Pulse, and what it can do for your organisation.

Or visit our website at www.kpipulse.com