Digital transformation is one of the hottest topics for companies in various sectors. Companies are increasingly focusing their resources on digitally transforming their operations and services using the power of Artificial Intelligence, Robotic Process Automation and Big-Data Analytics. Those who don’t invest in the technology risk falling behind.
Digital Transformation will help organizations continuously work to unlock productivity gains and gain a competitive advantage while delivering a customer experience. It is not only intended to replicate an existing service in digital form, but also to turn that service into something much better and useful.
Crucial in transformation is knowing where you are now, keeping the organizational goal in mind, and following the set course. Keywords are efficiency and customer thinking.
In practice, however, we find that many activities are purely operational and that a lot of time is still spent on manual actions, such as data entry, time-consuming checks, responding to complaints, following up on problems and escalations.
Using a method consisting of 6 concrete steps, we explain how we can successfully implement digital transformation and turn our departments into strategic business partners.
#1 – Expand your vision of how A/P & Procurement can impact the Business
Each department should ask itself how it can contribute to the strategic objectives of the company. Whether it is about supporting future growth, maximizing the operating result or a strategy to ensure that the company will continue to exist in the future, our department must be able to contribute more than operational, administrative activities.
Introducing technology or additional resources can speed up current processes or make them more efficient, which in turn can result in a lower workload. But by implementing a change in processes, technology and people, the true potential of our department can be unleashed. With the right changes, a huge business impact can arise on the entire organization.
Whether it’s a growing company ready for rapid expansion, or a mature business looking to reduce costs or anything in between, optimizing administrative processes can support these ambitions.
#2 – Take a hard look at the current processes
With the defined ambitious goals for our departments, it is time for a fresh and clear view of current processes. If the processes still contain a lot of waste such as manual operations, there is clearly room for substantial improvement.
However, the ambitious goals cannot be achieved by automating only part of the process.
As technology investments require an investigation of the entire process, this momentum offers the opportunity to improve the entire process, rather than simply re-implementing the old process.
Measuring the efficiency of the current processes with the help of Critical Performance Indicators (KPIs) will provide the necessary input to assess the process concretely. With the right KPIs, it is possible to provide insight into where we stand and how great the opportunity is to optimize.
#3 – Choose the right criteria for success
To support the vision of making our departments strategic business levers, criteria must be set for assessing project success. To maximize process efficiency, improve stakeholder relationships and provide better visibility and control, the project must deliver a system that meets three fundamental criteria.
Criterion 1: Make the new system easy and attractive for external stakeholders
In digital transformation it is important to reason from the external stakeholder (customer) and not from the internal organization. Customer-driven thinking encourages creativity and strategic growth.
Many companies have also had it with legacy automation systems that charge for every transaction that is processed. In order for the automation to succeed, the benefits of a new system must therefore be clear to the external stakeholders. The system should also be easy to use and meet the different needs of each stakeholder, be it the corner store, a medium-sized customer / supplier or a large company.
Offering real-time insight into, for example, the processing status of an order or the payment status of an invoice can tempt the stakeholder to participate. Charging costs will have just the opposite effect.
Criterion 2: Make it easy and effective for employees
Many companies have implemented an ERP system that offers a wide range of functionalities. However, the complexity and limited usability of many systems results in a low user adoption.
In order to entice employees to use a new system, the new system must be extremely user-friendly and mobile to use, without requiring any or limited training.
Criterion 3: Make the system end-to-end
Automation and optimization of only a few sub-processes or steps within a total process lead to sub-optimization. All too often all attention is focused on the state of affairs within a particular department. Since many processes cross departmental boundaries, optimal functioning is disrupted and this is always at the expense of the delivered quality or the total operating result. End-to-end optimization is therefore a crucial success factor.
#4 – Get the team on board for success
In order to implement a process successfully, all stakeholders of the process must understand the personal benefits. Understanding the added value of improving processes helps ensure that users adopt the new processes and technologies and are ready to use the new functionalities effectively.
#5 – Implement, Go Live, and Start Improving Relationships
Many companies have endured painful and flawed implementations of new technology systems. But with modern, cloud-based automation solutions, we can say that these frustrations can be a thing of the past. An integrated solution must be deployed within a few months and rolled out to the various stakeholders.
Once employees and external stakeholders see how user-friendly a system is, adoption will follow fairly quickly and relationships will only improve.
#6 – Watch the Benefits Begin
Once the system is up and running, the benefits will appear immediately. It is therefore important to quantify these and make them transparent. Some examples of benefits are:
Lower operating costs
Because automated transactions require much less manual effort, the department can do more with less.
More strategic activity
Freed from paperwork and manual data entry, people can focus on activities that create value.
Better business intelligence
A real-time view of important financial and operational statistics and analysis generates insights for better decision-making.
The fewer manual manipulations, the smaller the chance of errors and the less worries about errors and compliance with the policy.
Support for growth
Whether your business is growing organically or through acquisitions, an automated system allows you to easily scale while minimizing the number of employees.