Business Processes

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.

What is an API?

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What Is an API?

If you have talked with a programmer you may have heard them comment about API calls and ‘talking’ to another application via its API. API stands for Application Programming Interface, which allows different applications to communicate, without learning each other’s ‘language’.

The purpose of APIs

APIs make it easier for developers to communicate with other applications, using certain pre-defined methodologies when building applications. An API allows one application to permit another application to use only specific objects or actions in a way that ensures compatibility and integrity between the two.

What can an API do?

A request to gather information from a third-party application may use an API call as the means to communicate, allowing the programmer to gather and use information in a way that is accessible. The API acts as a middleman for the programmer when requesting information from another application, while also letting the programmer know what he can ask for, how to ask the question and how to process the answer.

Take for example when an order is placed on a front-end system, an API can be used to send the order details (delivery address, customer details, etc..) into an internal system that it doesn't natively communicate with. Whether an accounting system, fulfillment software or even directly into a database, it’s possible to streamline the way data is transferred and interpreted when utilising an API.

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Why use an API

  •  API’s provide an enhanced layer of security; through never exposing your data fully to the server, and the server never fully needing to expose itself in return. Instead, each communicates with the API, only sharing that which is necessary.
  • An API allows for simplicity and reusability by implementing a standard programming method to interact with the server, allowing the same method to be used for each application.
  • APIs are typically developer-friendly, easily accessible, and how to interact with it and what calls to make are usually well documented.

This all allows for an integration to be developed in less time, with rules governing how and what access is provided.

Things to keep in mind

Just as easily as they give access, capabilities given through APIs can be taken away. If an API that you rely on reduces its capabilities, or even an API that you utilise is shut down suddenly, you may find yourself in a tough situation with severely reduced functionality.

It pays to research the APIs you utilise and keep up to date with news and developments. 

If you have queries about custom software and about how Advance can help streamline your processes, get in touch. 

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Are Your Business Processes a Target For Scammers?

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Cyber criminals are tricking CEOs out of millions of dollars by exploiting their organisations poor business processes and fooling unsuspecting employees into transferring money. The growing trend, known as ‘CEO Whaling’, involves plain text e-mails being sent to employees’ responsible financial transactions, masquerading as their boss requesting them to urgently pay invoices. Those falling victim have no way to recover the money with insurance generally not covering international fraud.

These highly organised con artists are not just spamming companies at random, instead they’re using social media to research potential victims, taking advantage when they’re most vulnerable. For example they may identify through social media that the boss or the person responsible for financial transfers is on a holiday and that’s when they strike, sending an e-mail saying they’re about to get on a flight and need an invoice paid urgently. They use a fake e-mail address and include some personal details uncovered via social media to give the e-mail just enough validity to trick the employee into believing it needs to be done and that requesting confirmation will probably make their boss angry due to the delay caused by being on a flight and unable to respond.

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Organisations with business processes that rely on an e-mail from the boss for financial approvals are at high risk of falling victim to this scam as the process doesn’t include any validation that the invoice hasn’t been modified or that the approval has come from the person with authority to approving it. Busy people find the use of e-mail in a process like this convenient as they can be sent at will from virtually anywhere, on any device, at any time, putting them at risk of being exploited. Processes that involve printing, stamping, signing and shuffling paper around for approval stall when the approver is not in the same location as the document. Allowing e-mails to be used in place of an actual signature on the document makes the process susceptible to scammers. This issue was recently reported on in The Advertiser, read that article here http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/technology/how-australian-bosses-are-being-tricked-out-of-millions-of-dollars-by-cyber-criminals/news-story/57318e06c02a8215b8d67d521a219aea.

The solution to avoid being tricked by the scammers is to implement a flexible solution like M-Files where the business process is migrated into the system with secure access provided via desktop, web and mobile app. M-Files stores a single electronic version of the invoice with security that restricts access to only the people involved. This avoids copies of the invoice being e-mailed, instead those involved all refer to the same version stored in M-Files. With the approval process managed via workflow, the approver is notified of an invoice to approve and is required to authenticate themselves to view and approve, which can be done quickly a simply via the mobile app using fingerprint authentication. The people responsible for payment are then notified and required to authenticate to access the approved invoice. M-Files keeps a detailed version history of every change the document goes through, so if the person responsible for payment wants validation that the boss approved the invoice for payment, they can review the documents history to confirm it was actually approved by the boss’s user account. The version history can be used to identify changes to the original document and can potentially identify fraud attempts where bank details for payment have been changed on an invoice. Aside from not falling victim to fraud, the benefits of keeping the records electronically rather than physically include incredibly fast retrieval of information and increased office space when you recycle the filing cabinets for scrap metal.

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If you’re still using a manual process that involves printing, stamping, signing and shuffling paper around your organisation for approval that can be short circuited by e-mails, you are at risk of being scammed. If you think it won’t happen to you, think again as the Federal Government have been briefed on the severity of this trend because the losses are increasing into the millions. If you want to know more about how M-Files can help your business, please contact us.