Many companies have enjoyed significant efficiencies from partial digitisation in recent years, but there’s still a lot of paper flying about many everyday offices, writes Monique Williams, Hyland Southern Africa regional manager.
Most agree that achieving truly paperless processes would greatly impact business and enhance customer service. However, many find the idea of implementing the tools they need to achieve digitisation daunting.
But it doesn’t have to be. Enterprise content management (ECM) does most of the hard work, allowing digitised documents and files in a wide range of formats to be searched, managed and made available to staff across the organisation, often automatically.
While the path to success may be manageable, the outcome of a digitisation project will be significantly enhanced by addressing some fundamental issues.
Step 1: Know what you want
It’s important to have a clear vision of exactly what you want from your ECM solution – as well as why. What specific processes are too complicated or paper-heavy in the business? What problems would your ideal solution solve? Could platform capabilities including ECM, assist one department or be extended throughout the organisation?
ECM is about streamlining as much as it is about organising. Setting out what you want from an ECM solution is a good way to re-examine where business processes can be automated, attenuated and ultimately made more efficient.
Step 2: Know your users
Once you have a vision of a new digital way of working, you will need to think about implementing it from a practical viewpoint. Many IT projects fall short of their full potential because they are not widely adopted by staff. It is essential to keep staff on board during the planning and implementation stage and, in particular, key team members.
A good approach is to involve the people who will actually be using the system from the very beginning. Talk to them, find out what their challenges are and ask for their input and ideas. This helps build end user buy-in and vastly increases the chances of achieving full adoption once the technical installation is complete.
Allow key staff to become ‘champions’ of the new technology, experimenting with it at an early stage and developing uses for the system within their area of expertise of work.
Early buy-in across the organisation will not only spread the idea and generate usage scenarios, but will also increase user adoption once the system is implemented. You will, therefore, end up with a system that uses technology for the benefit of company and staff, rather than an imposed solution that resourceful workers will rapidly bypass.
Step 3: The end game
Whenever you consider a business-wide system change, you should keep in mind how it will affect your staff. Empathy is key here. Remember that your end users may not care about projected cost savings. What matters to them is the efficiency they can achieve to complete tasks faster, which allows them to spend their time on more satisfying and valuable work.
Appropriate planning, vision and engagement are key to swift adoption across the business. Target quick wins, thereby building staff confidence and belief in the new approach.
As the new way of working evolves and customer trends are taken into account, the system will become flexible enough to allow even more business processes to be automated or changed into more appropriate digital formats.