When scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology sent the first piece of electronic mail in 1969, they had no idea what an essential communication tool they were pioneering for the modern workplace. Businesses around the world quickly adopted this instantaneous communication method and now – 50 years later – send more than 108 billion emails each day.
As powerful as email is for employees and businesses, it also has a dark side. As companies increasingly use email to share and store information, email has become a congested mode of communication. Companies now struggle with clogged up corporate email systems and reduced productivity of employees, each of whom must slog through 86 to 121 work-related emails every day to find the data they need. Over time, this compromises a company’s ability to capture and analyze data efficiently. Critical information is locked up in file attachments and email threads, unavailable or even lost to the full scope of people, systems, and processes that need timely access to the data to achieve their missions.
Fortunately, your company doesn’t have to keep operating this way. Velocity Forms offers a solution that doesn’t simply recreate paper documents in a physical form that needs to be passed around via email, but actually transforms them into web-enabled, mobile-friendly, reportable, automated forms – giving your company unprecedented access and oversight into your data.
If it sounds like your organization could benefit from a more effective approach to transferring and organizing its data, here are the first four steps to take to help your company get out of email dependency with a digitized forms solution:
1. Understand the role of ‘platform champion’
The first step in the process is to understand that a person who takes on the role of “platform champion” is critical in getting maximum ROI from a business process management (BPM) platform. The champion actively participates in the communication and knowledge transfer of how the organization leverages the platform. That participation can take the form of any (or all) of the following:
- Sponsor an internal BPM user group that has regularly scheduled meetings to discuss current work streams, news and events, system demos, and helpful “how-to’s.”
- Communicate the status of system availability, such as notifying your team when system maintenance is taking place that might cause outages.
- Gather feedback from the company’s end-user community on user experience (UX), overall impressions, etc., and aggregate that information so it can be used in future application enhancements or development guidelines.
- Keep track of which individuals have been technically trained on the platform.
- Publish reports to management on system usage and other pertinent metrics.
- Serve as the primary liaison between the business and the solution implementation partner.
2. Create clear goals and stay focused
One common mistake we see clients make when attempting to get out of email dependence is trying to “boil the ocean” and automate every possible data collection process at once. While this commitment to getting out of the email trap is admirable, it’s not very practical. Companies that try to change too much at once often find that none of the changes stick, prompting them to give up too easily. They also fail to create sufficient runway in the change-management process to properly educate the end users of the impending changes in advance of the first production deployment.
The result? An incomplete transmission of critical information, which will leave a significant amount of your data locked in employee inboxes.
Instead, we recommend identifying one or two data processes to automate and focusing your efforts on making these “micro-transformations” a complete success end-to-end. Not only will your company reap the benefits of completely automating these processes, but the successful implementation will also provide a tangible example of the power of the new platform to the rest of your organization. The positive improvements to your company will ripple through to other teams and departments, naturally building interest and momentum.
3. Start with the most critical or complex processes
Finally, while it may be tempting to grab a quick win by starting your digital transformation with a simple or little-used data process, we don’t recommend that strategy. Transforming a data process that isn’t particularly important to your business won’t deliver a noteworthy lift in ROI right away, and so it won’t garner much attention from the rest of your organization to show that the effort is worthwhile. This approach might actually weaken your strategy and immobilize your efforts.
A better approach is to go big right from the start. As you focus your efforts on one or two specific projects, choose ones that impact parts of your business that are as critical and complex as possible, such as such as employee or customer onboarding. Your organization will see immediate benefits from the update, easily identifying an up-front ROI. Every employee who experiences the change will be eager to see other processes similarly transformed.
4. Consult a change management expert
If you’re like most of the successful entrepreneurial businesses we work with, you’re comfortable moving forward with most technical projects on a DIY basis. But we’ve come to find that even companies that are familiar with the process of transitioning to a new kind of BPM platform can significantly benefit from consulting experts on this kind of transition.
If there’s no room in the budget for a complete installation, at least consult a professional at the beginning of your project. Experienced consultants will launch a course of action that ensures your team works through the digital transformation process quickly and smoothly. And – most important – you will be building a system that is user-friendly, scalable, and easy to maintain and update for the long haul.
Rely on email as a communication tool, not data storage
Storing and sharing critical data in email is one of the biggest problems we see. These companies are merely making a “digital transfer” of their data at the expense of achieving true digital transformation. If your company is struggling to communicate clearly and organize data in an effective way, consider using automated forms to regain control and oversight over your data.
Velocity Forms is a rapid forms development and automation solution that allows citizen developers to digitize and automate enterprise and department-level data-collection forms quickly and easily, and without developer skills. Learn more about Velocity Forms here.