Operational efficiency as a goal of digital transformation
Digital transformation is an opportunity for process improvement, and needs to be approached with the Customer Journey in mind, to improve efficiency.
Por Jesús Racionero, COO de Beonprice
As the Cheshire Cat said to Alice in Lewis Carroll’s story, if you don’t know where you want to go, it doesn’t matter which road you choose. But if you really want to get somewhere, you better have a vision and a plan to get there.
I remember in another life a transformation project for a major insurance company in which the objective was to replace a software that was as powerful as it was expensive in licenses and maintenance with one that was much more “agile” and of course flexible in terms of its configuration possibilities in order to scale more quickly.
What a great opportunity to review the processes and their implementation in the solution! We came up against the killer of any initiative: resistance to change, revolution and innovation. We ended up “porting” a solution from one technology base to another, without improving operational efficiency one iota. The only achievement of the change was the savings in licences. A missed opportunity in this organisation to increase efficiency.
Digital transformation starts with a change of mindset
The transformation we need to address is first and foremost our mindset:
- What is the focus of my business? Our customer. Anything that helps our customer flow smoothly from the time we identify them as a lead to the time we put them into service will benefit both our customer and us.
- What is our main process? Our Customer Journey. This process involves countless sub-processes, departments, groups and individuals. But the most important thing is that they are all in sync so that the Customer Journey does not encounter obstacles…
So, before implementing this digital transformation, we must understand that it is not just about implementing a technological solution that helps us to carry out our daily work. We must first stop to think about what is the most efficient way to work, because if we don’t do so we will only be “automating our inefficiency”. And it is very important to understand that this exercise involves all members of the organisation.
We must bring about a change of mindset to a much more generous position. Moving from What do I need from others to do my job to What do others need from me to do their job? We are each responsible for ensuring that through the efficiency of our work, others can be as efficient as we are. Each of us must ensure that we are not the bottleneck, because the maximum speed of the process is that of its biggest bottleneck on its critical path.
Identify the most efficient processes before you automate
The first step is to analyse the Customer Journey:
- What stages make it up
- What are the activities in each stage
- In which order the activities should be addressed
- Which teams are involved
- What information is needed for each activity
- When that information is needed
- Who is responsible for providing the information
- What are the risks at each stage
- How to monitor, mitigate and correct them
- How to measure the efficiency of each activity in order to improve it.
This exercise will help us to break down barriers between groups within our customer journey. In cascade, we will break down the bottlenecks that we have institutionalised in the organisation, which are so detrimental to the efficiency of our processes.
Only when we have defined our processes to add value to the customer journey and to be able to improve it, we will think about how I can use a tool to increase efficiency. At this point, we will have identified in which activities we provide less value despite being necessary. These should be our priority when it comes to automating them.
Automate efficient processes globally in the organisation.
We have already defined our efficient way of working, now we can automate efficiency. The tool that helps us should always facilitate multidimensional communication between all those involved in the customer journey. It must have a good balance between functionality that helps automate each task and that best suits each part of the business. We can have the best tools in each area, but it is not possible to communicate between them or to find solutions that solve everyone’s needs in a more general way and that are seamlessly integrated, which will facilitate communication.
Whatever our choice, we should avoid situations such as:
- We need something tailor-made because my business doesn’t fit the standard.
- In my department we work in this way, that the solution is adapted to my needs.
- I need this special functionality
Normally we will be looking for solutions, with a team of experts behind them and a lot of experience in their field, who have been collecting feedback from a lot of companies during years of using their solution and who will have been evolving it to be the most efficient in their field. When a solution does not seem to fit our reality, let’s be creative. Maybe our reality is not our reality. Let’s put on the table the cost of adapting a solution to what we believe to be our reality, as opposed to adopting a market solution and adapting to it (development cost, maintenance cost, evolution cost, loss of the valuable experience of other users, …).
Do not forget that the best tools are the generosity, flexibility and excellence of each of us who contribute to the customer journey. With them, our digital transformation project is sure to be a success.