Capturing information is the first (and easiest) step towards digital transformation

By: Stan Corner

In my role at BTS I talk to many businesses. I don’t think there’s one I’ve come across yet that hasn’t realised that embracing digital transformation is the only way forward for their business. As I’ve written about before, we’re all incredibly time poor these days and it always seems too busy. So the challenge isn’t really knowing that we need to convert our information to digital, it’s finding the time to make it a priority.

Making the commitment is the first step

The first step you need to take is making the commitment to prioritise capturing business information. The reality is that this does require you to commit resource(s) in the business to make it happen, it won’t just magically capture itself.

We all have to make choices on our priorities and it can seem that with information scattered across a variety of places, for example PC’s, MS Windows files, mobile devices, disparate internal IT systems, the Cloud (Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.), archive boxes, filing cabinets…that it’s a mammoth task. It’s my belief, however, that if you make the commitment to focus on it, the end result will more than justify the resources spent. Think about it like this: If you don’t start tackling your business information now, will the challenge stop growing? Most likely the answer is no, you’re only going to accumulate more information in more places. Getting on top of this now and capturing everything into one location has major benefits now and into the future.

Start small

Once you’ve made the commitment to prioritise this, the next thing to focus on is overcoming the inertia caused by information being in multiple sources. It can be a little overwhelming when you think about it in a whole of business context; it’s a lot of information.

My tip is to avoid doing everything at once. Like a lot of things in life, it’s often the ‘1%ers’ that make a difference, so find an area in the business, such as a particular function like sales or a backend process like accounts payable, and start there. This approach has two main benefits:

  1. It makes the task smaller: Starting small means you’re not diving into everything at once. You can limit the amount of resource it takes and it enables you to focus your efforts on one specific set of information;
  2. You can learn from it: Focusing on one area means that you can test and tweak your approach. Chances are you’re going to learn from the mistakes you make in the first attempt. Think of that as a win, by focusing on one area you’re learning and streamlining your approach, so that it’s a hell of a lot easier the next time round.

Managing and capturing business information is not a one-off project, once you get it right it’s something that you will need a process for ongoing. The good thing in the starting small approach is that it enables you to formalise that ongoing process for the rest of the business to benefit from. It will also enable you to showcase the benefits of capturing all this business information to the rest of your team. For example, we know from experience that better capture and management of information will enable your team to spend less time on capturing, finding and storing information going forward. That efficiency gives them the time back to focus on other tasks and better service your customers. Once other areas in the business see this, I promise you they’ll want it too!

Look at partnering as an option

The third tip I can give you is to think about the resourcing piece. If you think it’s something you’ll need help with, then look to partner with an expert.

My advice would be to pick a partner that you trust. The main point to test them on is the question of their competency to scale with you going forward. You don’t want to select a partner to work on the initial capture process today only to find that their a bit of a ‘one trick pony’ and can’t help you going forward.

I’d suggest looking at a partner that focuses on documents and business information. You’re more likely to achieve the results you’re looking for with someone that truly understands the challenge and doesn’t just see it as an add-on service to something they’re already doing for you.

In a following post I’ll be talking about the five key steps to digital transformation, which will showcase why it’s so important to be forward thinking now to save you challenges later.