7 November 2018
Why Go Digital? Because evolution or extinction are the only options.
In order to achieve optimal efficiencies it is imperative organisations understand and implement the power of digital. This could mean walking away from long-standing business processes your organisation is built on, in favour of new cutting-edge practices; but it’s essential for growth.
With the increase in mobile workers and decrease in paper-based systems, embracing the power of digital assistants and harnessing modern interfaces will help drive performance in all areas of your organisation – now and in the future.
Though we live in the digital age, very few companies are fully embracing the tools and methodologies available right now. Businesses are always looking for an edge over their competitors, yet so many are stuck in the past with manual paper systems and even those who have embraced technology are often using dated products, which are rarely fit for purpose and almost always lack innovation; meaning the systems don’t ‘communicate’ which causes further headaches.
This might sound critical, but there are several reasons this situation exists, here are the common opinions and what to do now:
If it’s not broke, why are you trying to fix it? When decision makers are approached by colleagues or external companies about updating their HR strategy, what many of them hear is ‘’why spend money and waste time on this shiny product that does the same as your current systems for no reason other than it being new?’’ but this is totally incorrect. Companies often survive with old processes and bringing in the wrong system can mean a reduction rather than increase in output and growth. This doesn’t matter, because getting the right software, training and support means a company goes from survival to growth; something everyone wants. The important thing is to keep the benefits in mind and focus on the positives rather than any hypothetical problems. You can look forward to automated, certainly streamlined processes, which avoid manual input and paper-documents, so less time is spent on admin and more on actually building your business.
We don’t have the budget for this… There is rarely a situation where a company has more spare money than it needs. Even when profits are high, it seems sensible to restrict spending in case things go the wrong way further down the line. This is sensible, but it’s also true that you have to speculate to accumulate. Reinvestment is crucial for growth, so given the potential cost-saving effects that a well-planned digital transformation brings, it’s short-sighted to save pennies and miss out on pounds.
We’d love some fancy new system, but when are we going to find time to look? With a million day to day challenges, tasks and processes to be carried out by your business, stepping back to see the big picture can be challenging; especially when you are firefighting a pixel at a time. Even when you do allocate time to look at new processes, it’s almost impossible to know where to start. Rather than searching through the endless list of consultants and software providers out there, it’s best to look into what you currently have, what works well and ask your people which things aren’t working (as well as what’s making their lives hell). By understanding your needs it’s a lot easier to invest wisely and not get manipulated by any unscrupulous sales people selling you software which doesn’t fit with requirements. From here, a company can come in and assess your needs and make recommendations – they may offer useful tools you hadn’t thought of, but if their proposal goes against your needs, you must be confident enough to ask the right questions before reaching a decision.
OK, we do need to modernise. This system looks great, we’ve talked about going paperless for a long time, but implementing all these changes, it’s going to be chaos! Being sceptical around technology is not necessary, but it is understandable, given how unstable many software systems used to be. That’s not the case now because products are better thought out and companies offer support staff and patch fixes in the unlikely event of a major error. Much of this has come about through the feedback surveys and testimonials used to improve software, which are universal at this point.
While there will always be some risk in a huge transformation, using a company who thoroughly test their products after designing the software in-house means the risks are very low and the implementation team will come fully prepared. As the technological age matures, there will be no going back to timesheets and multi-system setups – bespoke, intuitive all-in-one systems will soon be the rule; without exception. Given that at some point you will need to change whether you like it or not, it makes sense to start the switch to digital now, while your competitors drag their knuckles in the race to keep up.
So we’ve got all this new stuff, but what does it do exactly? Aside from not investing in the right technology and support, the biggest problem companies face with new technology and the digitisation of processes, is that they don’t use digital tools to their potential, as the full list of benefits is not clear. By making the switch, time and money are saved, accuracy increases and effective filing is created as there is a record of everything which can be accessed quickly. So that you get the most out of your software and get everyone excited about the changes, here are some top tips:
Top Tips for Digital Transformation:
- Communicate to your shareholders and all employees why you are transforming…two key benefits are:
- Move away from paper: The benefits of digital transformation work like this: If you use paper systems, the first step is getting rid of all your paper documents. While you can still scan essential items like legal documents that customers send you for example, the vast majority of your processes should be carried out digitally in the first instance. With many of your workforce beginning their careers with fully paper-based systems, it’s important to communicate and emphasise the reasons for going digital.
- Gather data from everything you input: From employee payslips and details, to meeting plans and learning points, all the information can be collated into a central place for each employee so you understand their needs. When implementing your digital transformation it’s essential to communicate the benefits of data from software, over paperwork – mainly that it can be collated and used quickly to inform business decisions at every single level of your company.
- Assemble a transformation team: Rather than simply purchasing software, completing implementation in the first instance and then hoping everyone understands what you are hoping to achieve, you need a plan. People create plans and those people need to be from a diverse mix of areas, so as many skills are utilised as possible. This team should include experienced people from across your departments, as well as a couple of new-starters, to ensure your digital transformation matches the requirements of your workforce. This should focus on people from top-tier, middle and general roles to empower all your people as well as covering as many departments as possible; this is crucial as no single person can experience the challenges of every role. As well as a diverse mix of employment backgrounds, it’s important to include loads of people as a mixture of positive and negative comments means you have a realistic view of the project as a whole. By involving such individuals, no one can complain over the way the transformation has played out, as they dictated how things would happen.
- Include people from your HR department: While assembling your team it’s easy to focus on managers who use many of the features to manage their teams, the business owner who is authorising the new systems, your IT department who will need to understand the product in detail and any trainers who will explain everything in detail to small groups; but you’re missing someone. With the new HR system set to automate everything, it’s crucial you consult and get feedback from HR, the people who manage your current processes. They have seen every possible HR issue during their career and are an invaluable source of knowledge for implementing change. When your digital transformation is complete, they will be responsible for future HR strategies too, so it’s important to include them at every step – in many instances it should be them that drive the whole project!
- Don’t be afraid to shake things up: You should start your transformation meetings with a broad group but if it becomes obvious that only certain people need to be involved, or have contributed enough to the group, it’s important to remove them to stay focussed on crucial changes. Likewise, if there is an area that needs to be considered in more detail, it might be worth bringing in additional people. The purpose of this exercise is to get all your departments on board with the new processes and make them excited about change, rather than dreading the inconvenience they may perceive as being part of any change to procedure. Any poor working practices holding up the project must be addressed, with only people who are ready to contribute taking part.
- Communicating the benefits throughout your transformation journey: Away from the transformation team, it’s a great idea to communicate the position of the transformation journey to you employees at regular intervals. This does three things:
- Keeps your staff up to date, building excitement around the project, so they are fully on board and want embrace the technology, intrigued by each development – celebrate milestones along the way to keep the excitement high.
- Prepares your staff for using new software and following processes. By getting groups together and demonstrating new tech or time-saving methodologies, they feel less overwhelmed and therefore find it easier adapting to change.
- Helps them to understand change so they know why every action is occurring and what’s in it for them personally, as well as the entire business.
- Assessment and communication: If you take away just one point in planning your transformation journey, it should be this: Understand what you have, what you need and then communicate it clearly. The ‘what you have’ refers to your current processes and technology – an audit of this needs to occur in the first instance, so you know what you need. When you know what you need, it’s time to ask a software company how they can meet your needs and work out which features suit your business. Once this is all established and put into motion, it’s important to communicate everything in plain English, so that your workforce understands the changes and the reasons for them, as well as what their new duties will be. Keeping a clear and honest dialogue between everyone will ensure a smooth transition to digital greatness.
Here at MHR, we have a dedicated team of strategic experts who work in partnership with organisations to implement projects that help you to adapt, from HR and payroll best practice through to transformational strategic change. If you’re interested in how we can propel your organisation to the next level, don’t hesitate to get in contact.