Digital transformation deploys technology to perform tasks with the goals to transform operations and better serve customers. It is a significant undertaking. It requires capital as well as extensive effort to prioritize, streamline, and automate tasks and processes.
A key success factor for automation is standardization because:
- Variation adds complexity to the design. Operational variables and rules multiply the solution design effort exponentially. To make the solution foolproof, a high number of user scenarios are necessary and hence, testing effort also goes up.
- Variation increases maintenance effort. When each business unit has a slightly different process, it becomes unwieldy over time. The Technical Support team would need to rely on experience and solid documentation to locate issues. Complexity increases resource commitment.
As you embark on your digital transformation initiative, it is an opportune time to take a fresh perspective on how to increase your competitive advantage through more customer-oriented approaches while enhancing productivity operationally.
An effective approach to standardization includes the following:
- Start with the desired outcomes from transformation – get specific on what these outcomes are. Reverse engineer the process.
- Work with a clean slate – design the ideal high level process to deliver the outcomes most effectively. Capture the key scenarios to describe tasks involved and how the process needs to work.
- Overlay the business rules – identify rules that must be addressed. They include regulations related to health and safety, financial compliance, and conditions that need to be verified to work through the process.
- Keep the rules to a minimum – objectively filter these rules because they add complexity. Eliminate those that don’t serve a purpose.
- Standardize process – engage stakeholders and understand the extent of operational variations for the current state. Understand the differences and attain alignment on what the future process would look like. Adapt where appropriate.
- Understand implications on job roles – standardization will introduce changes to roles and responsibilities. These changes may consolidate job roles, shuffle responsibilities, or eliminate positions. Aligning roles and responsibilities across the organization are part of standardization.
- Include specific performance metrics – it is essential to identify the intended improvements and determine the metrics for tracking. It is simply good business practice.
Standardization does not imply there is no room for variation. The goals are to simplify and have consistent processes, optimizing the outcomes from technology deployment. They translate into streamlined operations, consistent customer experience, and a coherent workforce with high morale.