Nine Capabilities of a Digitized Process

(Michael McNees and Walter Popper contributed to this post)  

Welcome to the post-ERP era.

In this new era, single-purpose apps and enterprise systems can no longer meet the organization’s needs, and happily many organizations have grown intolerant of the old world of expensive software customization, inflexible apps, and data silos.

New realities are exploding rapidly across company borders blurring the boundaries between employees, trading partners, and customers.  Old analog processes, born long ago in an era of information poverty, can no longer compete in this era of information abundance.

But what exactly is a digital process?  How would you know one if you bumped into it in the middle of the night?  Here are nine attributes that define the core capabilities of a digitized process.

  1. Adaptable: A digitized process can be rapidly reconfigured in weeks or even days. As conditions evolve you can re-route, re-assign, re-configure, re-direct when certain pre-determined conditions, such as volume, timing, or cost are met.
  2. Synchronized: Task and data sharing among participants – employees, partners, customers is automatically synchronized. Each performer has the latest information. Each knows what to do, in real time.
  3. Automated and/or Augmented:Digital processes make task segmentation easy. Administrative and repetitive tasks are automated, while algorithms and data augment human decision making on tasks requiring judgment.
  4. Current:Text and email are good tools for updates and questions. But true coordination in real time requires informed, engaged, interactive participation. A digitized process prompts, tracks and reinforces coordination seamlessly.
  5. Transparent:Networked performers exchange messages, data, documents and decisions. But ad hoc, invisible interactions result in delays and rework. In a digitized process, participants see workflows, track results, and solve problems.
  6. Secure:Encryption protects sensitive data. To assure privacy – for medical, financial or intellectual property files – access must be limited depending on both use and user. With a digital process you can build in an oath of secrecy.
  7. Compliant:To assure quality, safety, or performance standards we rely on policies, regulations and labor-intensive audits. Digital processes automate these non-value checks, giving performers more time to do their jobs.
  8. Self-Improving:Digital processes track their own performance. With the right data, analytics and methods, front line teams as well as managers see how things are working and find opportunities to improve a process, or even redesign it.
  9. Universal:By making enterprise-wide connections easier, digital processes support problem solving and operational excellence across, not just within, discrete datasets, functional organizations, product teams, supplier networks.

These nine attributes are significantly different from most old ERP era processes, but hopefully these attributes define a digitized destination.  It won’t be easy or inexpensive, but it’s not optional either.  It’s also important to mention that many of these capabilities are in use today.

The new call to action is “Digitize or Die!”

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