It might sound odd coming from a software company – but changing your processes from paper to digital forms isn’t in and of itself that useful. Yes you save money on paper, and hopefully a few trees too, but what difference does it really make?
This thought has no doubt crossed your mind and it’s perfectly valid – an email is convenient, but aside from the speed factor, it’s not hugely different from writing a letter.
The reason for going digital is not to change whether you use pen and paper or a PC, it’s about transforming how you work – allowing you to efficiently capture data and act on what it’s telling you. This is what will improve your operational efficiency, increase process compliance and painlessly generate cost-savings.
What is the difference between Digitization and Digitalization?
Let’s clear something up. ‘Digitization’ and ‘digitalization’ are often used interchangeably but they mean completely different things. Digitization means to convert something physical, like a piece of paper, into a digital format.
Useful, but not life-changing.
Digitalization, on the other hand, is about fundamentally changing the way we work, using digitized processes, automation and intelligent data capture to approach old problems in new ways.
One of my clients, a forward thinking guy who’s built a successful cleaning business into a total facilities management company, is a recent convert to digitalization. He’d been getting by pretty well using old-school methods - until he needed to produce an audit trail to satisfy his customers before they would pay.
At our first meeting I asked what he wanted from his shiny, new workflow automation system. He answered simply: “I just want it to work”. After talking to me, he found that creating an audit trail is child’s play for his new management system.
What’s more, with all the necessary information in one place, staff scheduling is no longer a nightmare. Now, my client is alerted automatically if a team member’s late for their shift or doesn’t turn up at all so he can investigate and swiftly reassign work to another team member.
He can produce dashboard reports at the touch of a button showing him what’s going on across his business. Most importantly, he can produce a full audit trail backed by water-tight data, time stamps and a clear progression history for jobs whenever required.
The road to digitalization
So what’s the road map for this kind of transformation?
Step 1 is turning paper into a digital format – a cleaner’s checklist, say, or your contract KPIs for a particular customer.
Step 2 is collecting all the data from those digital documents into a database. This is now structured data, so you can do useful stuff with it like ask it a question… “How many times did we complete all daily cleaning tasks in March?”
Step 3 is the point at which you can start leveraging the value from all this data through automation. This is where you need a management platform like mpro5 that puts a layer between your data source (such as a mobile app, IoT sensor or online weather report) and your database. It enables you to set rules that tell the computer what to do with the information coming in.
Take the cleaning checklist example I mentioned above. Our platform is commonly used to conduct audits and log performance scores. What if when a supervisor conducted an audit and an area failed, the next night , the failure points had been automatically added to the cleaning checklist to ensure the night cleaner knew they needed to focus on these areas?
With a flexible platform like ours you can set whatever rules work for your business. For instance, if a cleaning audit scores above 90%, then no further action is needed. But if an audit score is below that figure, you can instruct the system to automatically alert the designated ‘responsible person’ through the app and create a job tasking them to return to the site and carry out remedial actions.
This is the start of workflow automation.
As is the case when adopting any technology, success will hinge on how well it is implemented. That means gaining employee buy-in, ensuring data security and addressing privacy concerns. We’ve already helped many customers in the transport, retail, healthcare and hospitality sectors successfully transform their operations with our mpro5 platform. (Read their stories here).
No one would pretend changing the established way of doing things is easy but consider the prize at stake. According to the SAP Center for Business Insights and Oxford Economics:
- 80% of organizations report increased profits following digital transformation
- 85% say they have increased their market share
- They expect to achieve 23% higher revenue growth than competitors
As Eric Pearson, CIO, International Hotel Group (IHG), points out:
“It’s no longer the big beating the small, but the fast beating the slow.”
Is it time for your business to change?
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