The pandemic has sped up digital transformation in diverse industries. Transformation initiatives are major undertakings that have widespread implications throughout the business. It is more than selecting a technology to automate processes and tasks. Therefore, it is crucial to have the right people on the transformation team.
Here are several key roles.
Big picture leader
When embarking on a transformation initiative, taking a holistic look of the business needs helps to prioritize and develop a roadmap that delivers the desired outcomes. Recognizing that the new technology could enable new services, replace legacy systems, and eliminate operational silos, the leader has a key role in creating the vision and providing guidance on innovation.
For instance, a wholesaler looking to replace the disparate systems and redundant processes for order processing, picking and shipping would not automate these functions without considering how the new technology would impact customers, billing, returns handling and accounting. Without looking at the complete picture, the wholesaler risks automating specific workflows at the expense of other interdependent activities.
Business-focused technology expert
Technology experts are informed about the latest technology trends. What is popular, however, might not be a good fit for the business. To select the most suitable technology for the business, the expert needs to have a clear understanding of the prioritized business needs. His objectivity facilitates proper filtering in selecting an appropriate technology. There is little benefit in investing in a state-of-the-art technology when business needs are not addressed.
For instance, a technology expert who has experience in working with a specific ERP application in a previous job might be inclined to adopt the same ERP. To do a proper evaluation, it is necessary for the technology expert to start afresh with the business needs and conduct a proper search before settling on the recommendation. Otherwise, it would be putting the cart before the horse.
Process-oriented solution designer
The solution design could take on a functional focus because it often seems to be the most direct path. By focusing on automating tasks performed in a department in silos, the risk of overlooking dependencies across departments would lead to sub-optimization. When the solution designer takes a process-oriented approach, end-to-end workflows require coherence. This inclusive view effects consistency and better operational optimization.
For instance, the ordering process for the wholesaler in the earlier example would include reverse flow activities such as returns, credit processing and inventory updates. Skipping the reverse flow activities in the solution design would result in many unhappy customers who need to return their orders. The more comprehensive process view incorporates activities that are handled by other departments. This streamlines all customer facing activities, ensuring customers receive consistent services.
Open-minded subject matter experts
The subject matter experts have hands on knowledge about the tasks that are performed. Their familiarity with the business operations also means that they are aware of what works well and deficiencies with the status quo. It is important to note though the value of their contribution comes from their receptiveness to innovative solutions. Keeping an open mind is essential for synthesizing what is possible for the future state.Keeping an open mind is essential for synthesizing what is possible for the future state. Click To Tweet
For instance, an insurance company was considering an upgrade of its existing CRM application. In speaking with the subject matter experts from various departments, a better choice was made to automate processes such as proposal management and price negotiation that are integral to the sales process. The CRM application doesn’t have the capabilities for managing these processes. This means a new software application is needed. Subject matter experts who have internalized the current CRM application would not have recommended to expand the scope of the upgrade.
Having the right individuals in these roles are critical to a successful transformation initiative. They focus on delivering the best outcomes for the business rather than merely replacing legacy systems or automating tasks. This mindset also drives clarity on the ultimate goals and optimizes return on investment.