Transformation implies big changes but does it really deliver?

The word transformation implies big changes. To achieve them businesses invest considerable time, effort and money. You are justified in expecting a sizeable return for all that effort.

However most businesses finish a transformation program having only achieved minor performance improvements or nothing at all.

Aims v Outcomes

It’s a sad fact that the word transformation often symbolises the amount of pain and effort a business goes through. It is rarely about the benefits intended. 

Businesses often plan to carry on working in the same way as before whilst transformation focus tends to be technology driven. This doesn’t work because new technology might make things faster but if you’re NOT doing the right thing in the first place, you end up doing the wrong things faster.

It’s a common problem we see when working with customers on their own projects. Their focus is on changing the tools the business is using, not enough on testing their original processes and changing the fundamental ways of working. 

What does this mean to you?

If your business is pinning hopes of survival on the outcomes of your major transformation project.. If they plan on carrying on doing what they’ve always done…If they just want  faster tools… They’ll just go out of business even faster.

What it means is that, once the dust has settled, all your team can hope for are marginal gains. Some of the steps in your processes are now automated, or you’ve pushed some tasks out to other employees. Simply you’ve moved the effort to another part of the business rather than truly transforming anything.

The original vision for the program got lost and instead of a 25% cost saving or a 37% revenue increase, it became focused on “we need to get the system implemented and working”.  

It’s all too easy to focus on the tangible aspects of the technology you are implementing and ignore the need for less tangible changes on how the business gets stuff done.

Those opportunities for genuine transformation haven’t gone away. You just didn’t go far enough with the change process.

How do you prevent this?

Time for discovery

Allocating ample time at the start of the project to undertake a thorough discovery exercise is vital. In order to understand the potential barriers, there must be a deep understanding of the current situation. This stage is not just about gathering detail about your current state and processes. It’s about engaging with people early, understanding their role, listening to their individual hopes and fears and learning what they know about ways to make your business better.

Image taken from Skore’s Digital Discovery Platform

Understand your ways of working and identify what’s holding you back.

Crucially, you need to understand what’s preventing it from being better and is holding you back. It might be the technology you use but more often it will be because things are done the way they’ve always been done with little consideration to how they could be done differently.

Work with the vendors to design your future

Armed with the knowledge of what slows things down you can start to design your future state processes to tackle these issues. If possible, do this with the vendor(s) of the platform being implemented. Alternatively, make sure your implementation partner has expertise in the technology and will follow these critical steps.

This is the point where you take what you think will make things better and marry it up with the capabilities of the new system. Without this you’ll simply be automating what you have always done.

Support your team in the new ways of working

When your new system is launched it should be in tandem with your new ways of working. Train your team on the ways of working and then on how the system supports them. Include the ‘why’ in the training so that your team have answers to the questions: 

Why are we doing it this way?

What are the outcomes I am expected to produce? 

Your training should show clearly how the new ways of working and technology achieve these outcomes.

Image taken from Skore’s Digital Discovery Platform

Conclusion

Transformation means just that. Transforming the way you and your business works. If you aren’t investing in the initial discovery and investigations, if you don’t know your own business processes; how can you expect to make successful changes? All too often the investment is in the final technology solution but if you don’t invest in your people and their processes you’ll never achieve it. Its all too easy to blame the term Transformation but change starts with you and your approach. 

The Skore Digital Discovery platform enables you to gather all the information you need during the discovery phase. Simply and quickly create a model of processes, people, systems and data in a single place that can be accessed and understood by everyone.

Skore’s simple approach means anyone can understand how the business works and how the new systems support it. It engages people in live workshops and interviews and allows your company to find the solutions that work for them.  

Why not request a free trial and demo to see how you could deliver transformation right first time with Skore

What is Digital Discovery?

What is Digital Discovery

Have you ever been a buyer of software technology in your company? Or been on the receiving end of a software implementation? The chances are that the first time you interacted with the delivery team was stood around a whiteboard, or worse still, brown paper stuck to the wall with a handful of sticky notes. It was discovery, but not digital discovery.

For vendors of the latest technology it is still surprising that so many start their hitech delivery with such a low tech introduction. As an approach to requirements gathering, using pen and paper is vigorously defended. It is somewhat reminiscent of the music industry at the advent of streaming, or the camera film industry at the development of the digital camera.

At the very beginning of a tech implementation hopes are high, there is plenty of enthusiasm and a desire to get going. And then comes the implementation. Timescales over run, people forget the original goal, goodwill dwindles and by the time the solution is delivered it no longer fits the requirements, or it completely missed them.

The solution to this is not just speed but a better understanding of the client’s business and how it works. This all starts right at the beginning, with those initial digital discovery sessions.

The need for Digital Discovery

There are a number of key factors for getting discovery right; speed, engagement and accuracy. Speed is important as those taking part typically have a day job to get back to. They are prepared to take time out to support the initiative but they need to feel they were able to contribute as much as possible. Furthermore, they expect to see results quickly. The longer it takes between interactions the less engaged participants feel.

Engagement is essential to getting teams to buy into any change. While everyone may be aligned at the start it is important to keep them engaged throughout the program. Engagement is as much about contribution as it is to do with speed. Participants need to feel they have had their say. In fact it is essential that everyone does have their say as this is where some of the most important insights will come from.

Accuracy of the information gathered is, again, essential for ensuring the right requirements are delivered in the solution. But also for ensuring the team remain engaged, a participant will quickly realise if something they have shared is misrepresented in some way. They may not always point that out and engagement is damaged as a result.

Successful discovery is a balancing act between these three factors and yet traditional, manual, discovery work typically consists of long workshops writing, moving, rewriting and moving sticky notes around a board. At the end of the workshop photos are taken and scribed into a digital format and shared with the team days, or even weeks later, if at all. There follows several rounds of review and finalisation, taking more time out of people’s busy calendars.

Digital discovery involves capturing the information directly into a digital tool such as Skore. Participants describe their ways of working and these are transcribed there and then. Digital Discovery provides a number of benefits here; firstly the approach is structured so that it is standardised across all workshops regardless of the facilitator. Secondly, the tool makes it much faster to change things allowing participants to focus on the flow of work and reduces distractions and loss of concentration. Finally, the information captured can be agreed in the workshop and shared instantly with wider audiences as required.

The added benefits of the Skore Digital Discovery approach

One of the key benefits of using a digital discovery approach is how it helps uncover hidden issues and unexpected benefits. While the Skore approach is fast it also provides a framework that allows users to zoom in and out of the detail.

This puts the work the team are doing, and therefore their requirements, into the wider context of the business. It allows participants to easily explore other contributing, or receiving, areas of the business. It opens up new possibilities and highlights further requirements that typically get missed in traditional discovery sessions.

Understanding this wider context ensures that the business considers how appropriate these processes are for the technology that’s coming. It shines a light on changes, both process and organisational, that need to be made in order to make the implementation successful.

For the implementation partner it allows them to build a more complete solution and deliver more value to the customer. They understand the customer’s business at a much deeper level and therefore develop a longer and more meaningful relationship as trusted advisors.

Win win

Using a digital discovery approach is a win-win for both tech implementers and the receiving customers. For the implementers it allows them to grow with their customer over the long term and become a real value adding partner. For the customer it helps ensure they realise their return on investment quicker and grow their business faster.

If you would like to try Skore Digital Discovery request your free trial here.

Digital Transformation in Construction – Keep it Simple

Digital Transformation

Digital transformation is on the mind of every leadership team across all industries, not just construction. But what is digital transformation? A search online will return mountains of articles, research, opinion pieces and many more all describing wildly different descriptions.

You’ll hear about the customer journey, digital first interactions, reducing friction etc. A lot of what you read about will be from the retail industry or finance, disruptive business models and so on.

From a construction perspective how do you make sense of this all?

Digital transformation in construction

Today digital transformation is relative and depend on your industry as a whole and where it sits in relation to digital. It is about where you are today, your starting point, where you are trying to get to and how you can use digital technology to get there. In essence it’s about improving productivity, profitability, experience, automation and, perhaps most importantly, innovation.

In that sense it’s no different from any sort of industrial improvement technique that has come before. Except now the pace of change in digital technologies is so high that you need a new capability in your business that can keep on top of it and continuously implement the latest innovations.

Back to basics

For construction it will come as little surprise to most in the industry that things still tend to happen largely on spreadsheets. Even basic task automation found in other industries will be completed on spreadsheets and shared via email in construction. Files are still stored on shared drives and approvals are made with wet signatures.

Given this starting point I’d urge anyone considering digital transformation in the construction industry to not get carried away and take advantage of the enormous opportunities for improvement right in front of them.

Tools for creating simple workflows, with approvals, controlled document storage and mobile friendly are readily available and easy to use. More traditional Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) tools are easier to use and easier to configure than ever before. Most tools nowadays include some sort of Application Programming Interface (API) that allows it to connect to a variety of other tools so you can reduce data entry and emails.

However, given how easy to use and accessible these tools are it’s very easy to implement the wrong thing in the wrong way. And that’s where this new capability comes in.
Digital Discovery for digital transformation

Creating, or configuring, automated workflows may seem easy, but to do so in a scalable and future proof way requires a bit more skill. It’s important to consider the wider business to understand how this new workflow fits in. What are the inputs required, what outputs are expected, who will do it, what is the escalation path when something goes wrong, what is the data model required, who else needs to know?

Using a digital discovery tool such as Skore will make this much easier. It will allow you to rapidly build a model that describes how your business works, where the gaps are and answer the questions above. You can use this model to build and test your new automated workflows before you roll them out to your team.

Infact digital discovery is best started before you’ve even selected a technology for your transformation. The model produced will form the requirements for that system and can be used in the vendor selection process. Simply take the model to the different vendors and ask them to show you how they would deliver it.

Successful digital transformation

In construction, successful digital transformation is all about being aware of your starting point. Don’t try to over think things, or build something that no one would recognise. Keep it simple, identify the things that can be easily automated today that will have the largest impact on the business.

There is a lot you can do right now to reduce risk and increase productivity, simply by getting rid of those spreadsheets.

If you would like to learn more about how we can help you on your digital transformation journey please get in touch.

My top 3 tips for awesome Digital Discovery workshops

Workshops haven’t moved on in the last 20 years

When you mention workshops to most people they’ll think of standing around brown paper with pens & post-it notes, talking about the same thing over and over and over. Tough sessions. The more arguments there are, the better the workshop.

Of course, this is a generalisation and as Digital Discovery Tools are growing in popularity, I’m going to share my top tips to make the most of this new breed of software.

Why use Digital tools?

People love post-it notes right? You don’t get the same engagement looking at a screen?

Wrong. Paper-based approaches aren’t slick, moving dozens of post-it’s around because you’ve suddenly remembered a step is a daunting task. Plus, rolling up the paper and spending days translating them into a digital format results in two major problems:

  1. Workshop output has a half-life. The longer between the workshop and the delivery of the output, the less impact it has
  2. It’s very difficult for one person to successfully translate what was captured into an accurate representation. Couple this with the time it’s taken, you lose engagement as people don’t relate to the output

My Top Tips

Over the years, and countless workshops, I’ve learnt the hard way. Here are my top tips:

  Use a common language

Even if you’re clever enough to have learnt BPMN, no one is going to be impressed with your use of connector symbols, diamond, squares, etc… Keep it simple, people don’t want to have to learn a whole new language to engage in the workshop. Learn more

  Don’t jump into the detail

It’s all too tempting to spend hours focussing on one part of the problem. You’ll get a far better picture if you start at a higher level, then break it down into the detail as needed. It also means you can get the right people in the room at the right time.

  Share it instantly

If you’re doing it right, the content should be shareable by the time the attendees are back at their desk. You want them to be able to review it whilst it’s still fresh in their minds, make that comment, ask that question. Also, they’re more likely to share it with people that didn’t make the workshop, gaining a wider level of feedback. Learn more

Using a Digital Discovery Tool, and my tips, will help you engage on a whole new level. You’ll be able to get to answers quicker, demonstrate instant value and move the audience onto the next stage sooner, be it future process improvements, system implementation, or something else.

 

Want to learn more about using Skore for Digital Discovery? Request a free trial