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The Digital Workplace: How to Avoid Doing Useless Things

Mo Anwar | | August 21, 2018

In the 80s, Peter Drucker came up with this well-known quote: “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” And, it’s as true today as it was then. It’s particularly applicable to the implementation of a digital workplace because it’s critical to reengineer processes as part of the implementation.

The How is as Important as the Why

A digital workplace transformation needs to use a bottom-up evaluation of what employees are doing. For example, in an article published by the Harvard Business Review, a group of financial departments was discussed. In an effort to optimize a monthly financial process, the design team analyzed how each department completed the task. They were surprised to discover that one finance department completed the process in 71 fewer hours and with 40 fewer people than the other departments.

Everyone knew why the financial departments completed the task, but until they uncovered how they did that, they had no way to find opportunities for improvement in the process itself. The company saved a huge amount of time and resources by restructuring how employees completed the task before they addressed the issue of providing digital workplace technology to streamline it.

Look for Opportunities for Process Change

In the past, it was often possible to provide one application to automate an individual process. In order to create a digital workplace, that mindset must change. Now, the goal is to create a system to support integrated workflows across your organization.

You’ll need to aggregate all the information users need across the organization. That is a basic requirement for the functions of a digital workplace. The technical challenge will be to eliminate internal data silos, or provide a user interface that allows access to data in the silos in a way that is transparent to the user. You’ll want to give users the ability to share and analyze data in ways that will positively affect business outcomes.

This is another situation where you’ll need to start at the bottom to determine what information users need and how they need to work with it. Naturally, another key factor is implementing the governance required to ensure the security of the data and to serve the user only the data they’re authorized to view.

To achieve this type of streamlined workflow, the processes used by the workforce will need to change. For example, you may find requirements for access to some information that isn’t currently available to a specific user or group of users. Once you make that data available, you’ll need to create new processes to take advantage of the new capabilities.

Plan for a Change in Internal Processes, Departmental Structures and More

The digital workplace will give you the opportunity to establish a culture that encourages empowerment and accountability. You’ll need to involve the workforce in redesigning the workplace. Human resources will also play a key role in guiding the evolution of your business.

You’ll need a plan to train the existing workforce, or acquire the skilled workers you need. Senior management needs to take an active role in using new systems, listening to employees, and holding the organization accountable for smoothing the way for change.

Final Thoughts

There are a lot of moving parts to achieving a digital workplace. It’s worth the effort because of the potential return. Companies that don’t embrace digital transformation of all kinds won’t be the leaders of the future.

If you want to know more about the digital workplace, download the ebook titled “Building a Path to the Digital Workplace.” You’ll discover a range of benefits, and an approach for ensuring that your transition to the digital workplace is a success.

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