Do you remember the last time you set foot in a bank? If you’re like many people, it’s probably been a few years. That’s because the majority of things we used to visit the bank for—depositing checks, transferring money, setting up auto payments—are all now available as online processes. In fact, some banks don’t even have traditional branch locations: they’re entirely digitized, and that’s what customers have come to expect.
And yet, while many businesses have moved online, their internal processes remain in the dark ages. To help prevent your business from being left behind, here’s a great primer on how you can use digital transformation to meet evolving customer demands and keep pace with the changing world of modernization.
What does it mean to take your business digital?
Digitizing your business process means applying the same principles of online business to your current real-life processes. It means documenting the processes you’re currently using in a cloud-based, visual platform so that the processes can be perfected while harnessing technology to automate and streamline those processes whenever possible.
There are three types of digital processes:
- Operational processes–An organized set of activities that results in a specific product, service, or business methodology.
- Management processes–Setting goals, leading the organization, and executing activities and tasks.
- Supporting processes–Processes that support the core functions of running the business itself.
Advantages of digital processes
Converting your business processes to be wholly digital can be a lot of work, but it’s worth it. And it’s a necessity. If you don’t, you’ll be at a distinct disadvantage to your competitors, a disadvantage that could ultimately force you out of business.
Beyond that, there are some other critical advantages to digital transformation:
Everything is stored in the cloud
Having a cloud-based business helps you maintain your documentation library and unlocks the agility of your processes. Document redundancy is important. If a document lives on a single hard drive, the likelihood of something happening to the physical hardware is pretty high and that could mean the loss of valuable information.
Cloud storage also means that when a document is updated by one person, it’s updated for everyone in real time. No more worrying about outdated or inaccurate information.
Everyone can access the necessary information
Keeping everyone on the same page can only happen when information is stored in an accessible place, such as the cloud. Allowing your team members access to the information they need keeps business moving and sets the standard for a single source of truth.
Consider this: if your customer has a question about a return and all returns information is kept in an internal wiki, it’s easy for your customer success team member to access that wiki page and quickly provide accurate return information. Without that ease of access, your team member has to ask someone else—which could mean relying on third-hand and potentially inaccurate information—or spend valuable time hunting down documentation. When information is digitized, it can be disseminated instantly.
Adapt faster to agile environments
An agile team should embrace change and quickly adapt to it. A business that isn’t digital is as inflexible and fragile as the antique systems it relies on. Digitization allows for processes to be changed quickly and for every team member to immediately see that change.
Reduce operation costs
Remember what it used to be like to get a car insurance quote? It involved calling in, speaking to a customer representative, getting a quote over the phone, and then signing documents by mail. That cost the car insurance company significant money. Each quote represented a significant investment in time and resources.
Now, thanks to online quotes, a single car insurance business can use algorithms and machine learning to provide quotes instantly without human intervention and unlimited quotes can be provided online to any number of customers. It costs much less money to operate the business and there’s a much higher conversion of customers.
Apply that same strategy to processes across your business. With process digitization, human interference and cost is at a minimum, efficiency is maximized, and errors are reduced.
Accommodate remote work
In today’s world, remote work is not a novelty: it’s an expectation. Remote work enables businesses to access top talent anywhere in the world while also limiting the amount of money invested in rent and similar overhead.
The caveat is that in order to accommodate remote workers, a business must be entirely digitized. Every process needs to be replicated online. That means your business should support video conferencing, digital task management systems, cloud-based storage, online HR systems, instant messaging, and more.
How to make your processes digital
Since you know your business best, you’ll also know how best to convert to digital processes. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but here are some ways to get started:
Determine the end state and go from there
In other words, work backward. Document what your ideal business would look like. And this doesn’t have to be limited by what’s currently realistic. Once your dream business outcomes are documented, you can begin to examine the steps it will take to get there.
Think about your users first
The digital transformation of your internal processes is ultimately meant to benefit your customers. So start with determining what ideal user experience you’d like to create, document it, and then work on building processes to make that ideal experience a reality.
Rethink how you roll out new processes
It’s one thing to purchase a digital task management system and quite another thing to get your team to use it. Once you decide how you’re going to bring on new systems and processes, you’ll need to determine how they’ll be successfully integrated into your business and evangelized within your teams.
Move all process documentation online
Digital processes won’t work unless they're documented and consistent across the business. Document each process, then host it in the cloud so that it can be accessed and referenced as a source of truth.
Examples of making processes digital
Overwhelmed? Don’t be. Here are some ways to convert your current processes to digital ones:
- Sprint planning–Sprint planning can easily be documented and hosted in the cloud.
- Digital whiteboarding–Think brainstorms can only be done in person? Think again.
- Onboarding–Onboarding doesn’t have to happen in the office. See how you can upgrade your onboarding processes.
Remember that digitizing your business practices isn’t a one-time thing. To keep your business healthy, you’ll need to continuously update and adapt your processes to keep up with the current technology-driven environment. But the good news is that, once you’ve done it once, you’ll have the confidence and the skills to continually evolve.
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