While it seems like yesterday, it was already last year when I attended an Executive Leadership Conference sponsored by AIIM (The Association of Information and Imaging Management). It was an insightful session with speakers making presentations on the theme “A Digitally ‘Transformative’ Year,” and sharing their thoughts on the future of information management.
One of the findings focused on company culture and how success is going to hinge on all participants embracing the change that occurs when implementing a content management solution.
To get the ball rolling, we know that senior management has to be committed to making a digital transformation in the company. As we saw in Forbes, September 26, 2017:
“Culture remains a hurdle: If your company is battling culture issues in digital transformation, they will struggle even harder in 2018. As the pace of change continues to increase—and the number of new technologies continues to grow—it will become even more imperative that companies move fast while moving forward toward growth.” –Top 10 Trends For Digital Transformation in 2018, by Daniel Newman
A companywide initiative indicates a big push forward, and everyone has to get on board. Done right, everyone embraces the change, but done wrong, there is resistance to change. Of course, when a system replaces the old way of doing things and requires people to learn new processes, there is no turning back. But, will the vision from the top be accepted and implemented successfully? A lot will depend on the deployment plan.
We have seen at our company great success with middle management taking the leadership’s message of the companywide digital transformation to their teams and emphasizing these new processes are the future—no going back. But, they also made five key decisions to make it work:
- Set the baseline for the department and then bring in the users to collaborate. While management knows a lot about the jobs their people do—only the employees really understand how the new process might affect the nuances of their current processes.
- Phase in the solution. Don’t expect change overnight. One of our groups was very deadline driven. You don’t want to stress your employees with deadline pressure and ”learn the new system” pressure. You need a balance, and have to give the team time to learn enough to be successful.
- Training, training, training. The necessity of hands-on practice by the users cannot be emphasized enough. “Learn a new system and meet my deadlines—OMG!” We were able to ease the team into the system with training programs.
- Designate at least one Super User. Our Super User became more involved in subsequent phases and offered that voice-of-the-user, especially as the team trained. She also became the go-to person for the rest of the team—helping them or finding answers—which made her an even smarter Super User.
- Manage expectations. You may think the solution will be the best thing since sliced bread, but technology will throw you a curve ball—and you may find more functionality will come with future phases or integrations have to be built to accommodate your LOB, email, CRM etc. You will be better off, but don’t set the team up for 100 percent and find that you have to manage disappointment if you can only affect 80 percent of the operations.
The role of the project manager
All this success is only as good as the project manager in charge of implementing your content management system. Be sure to hire a good one. Understanding the users’ needs and balancing the capabilities of the system is imperative for that full transparency with management and, ultimately, with the user to ensure they know what the system can do. That role requires both technical expertise and strong listening skills to understand the needs of the group receiving the software. They know nothing and, initially, that is very daunting. But, it is through the PM’s efforts that they will understand the system, get the training they need, and identify issues, if any.
Doing much more than you ever could have imagined
A good way to characterize the transformation is to look at this AIIM description:
That is the best description that I have ever seen: using information in brand-new ways. While there are manual processes that become automated, the key is the paths to data that are now at the user’s fingertips. New paths open up the way to use data differently.
For instance, if you are trying to understand the utilization of your marketing collateral, you can now track how often your library is referenced. If you are collecting information on a particular topic, you can do a simple keyword search and find what you need. It is amazing: days of searching for information are compressed into a few minutes.
Once you have your users on board, the next hurdle is to realize the activities, requirements, and capabilities of your new system as they will require new behavior on the part of your co-workers, customers and vendors. “We will not accept any more paper. You need to do all of your submissions through email or through a designated portal.” Everyone has to get on board.
I recently went to a new doctor and before I left the office, they handed me a username and password for their patient portal so I could access all the information about my visit, including the subsequent claim. I could use the patient portal whenever I needed. But, I did not use e-forms when I entered the office—so this doctor still has a ways to go before he is 100 percent digitally transformed.
Digital transformation becomes a must
“2018 will force many companies to realize DX is not a joke. It’s an imperative in today’s business market. Disruption will continue to be an increasingly common occurrence in the next few years, and companies unable or unprepared for those changes will quickly fall to the bottom of the pack.” –Top 10 Trends For Digital Transformation in 2018, by Daniel Newman, Forbes, September 26, 2017
The predictions are consistent, but it seems they have accelerated for 2018. Start your digital transformation. Make the culture shift. Get going before you are left behind by your competitors. In 2018, it is not only an operational imperative, but a solid call to action. Act now. Start now. Go.
Joanne E. Novak
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