“If they digitize a shit process, then they have a shit digital process,” Thorsten Dirks, CEO of Telefónica Deutschland AG, already made this statement in 2015 and thus hit the nerve of the time. If a process is digitized without first checking whether it can continue to fulfill its raison d’être in this form, one quickly ends up in the “I told you, digitization doesn’t work” impasse. But how can a company, large or small, really digitize its processes successfully? I would like to give you a guide on how to prepare and implement digitization processes.


Recording the process from a neutral perspective

Processes have a long lifetime, sometimes they even outlast the lifetime of the employees. Sometimes the performers no longer even know why certain steps are executed, they were simply passed down from the predecessor and thus adopted.

Before a process is digitized, it is important to understand the process as it is today. In a first phase, the process is to be recorded from a neutral perspective. All persons, departments and stakeholders involved in the process should be involved. Without any evaluation the process of an external person should be explained and shown. This can be done in a workshop with all participants or with each individual. It is important to record all steps, no matter how small or unimportant they may seem.


Questioning the process with a non-operational view

Have you ever been annoyed by a tedious and lengthy process and wondered why it is not being improved? Process executors are often “business blind” and forget to critically question processes.

In the next phase it is therefore important to scrutinize the previously recorded process. The process steps are examined in detail; how they are triggered, what is the result and what dependencies exist. This is advantageously carried out by a person outside the process or even the company and analysed in detail.


Redesign of the processes

Now one of the most difficult parts of the digitization of processes begins; the process is being redesigned. What may sound simple at first can have a greater impact on the company and its employees than expected.

In this phase it is not only necessary to redesign the process, but also to bring change management on board. Every person involved in the process must be involved at an early stage with the help of change management and have the opportunity to recognize themselves as part of the whole. Together, the process steps are examined, the results from the previous phases are discussed and the new process is designed. The influence on employees and the company must be absorbed by change management in order to be able to make the appropriate preparations for implementation in good time. Change management is a separate topic which is not dealt with in depth here due to its importance and size.


Digitization of the new process

What lasts long will be good! Only now is the process ready to undergo digitization. But what exactly does that mean? Put it into the following three contexts:

  • Digitisation of content
  • Automation of digitization
  • Digital Business

All three areas are now being addressed by examining the possibilities of digitizing the redesigned process. The following questions can be asked:

  • Which data is required in different process steps and should always be up-to-date?
  • Which process steps are always the same, no matter what content is processed and could thus be automated?
  • Which new technologies can the process steps within a business unit be digitally represented and thus networked with other areas?

These and many other detailed questions can now be examined together with specialists who are not only familiar with process design but also with current technologies and applications, in order to define the implementation of the digitization process.

Implementation of the digitization process

Now the last part begins, the implementation. An important aspect is not only the actual adjustments but also the embedding of the new process in the digital transformation of the company. But not only these processes can be digitized, processes can also be digitized in the area of customer experience and business models.

It is therefore crucial that the processes are part of the corporate strategy during implementation. The aim is to show how the company can reposition itself in the market and how all parties involved feel involved with the help of change management. The company’s cultural values must be reflected in the new, digitized process.

Avoid the “digitization doesn’t work” impasse and spend enough time laying the foundation stone of the digitization process. A solid basis is necessary to avoid adjustments, and thus high costs, at a later date.

Finally, digitization means bringing together the latest technologies and applications to increase market competitiveness and meet the needs of digital customers.

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