The saying “Change is the only constant in life” is true. Yet it’s often difficult to see how changes will turn out while they’re happening. At times, it’s even trickier to determine how to change when you realize transformation is necessary.
Business modernization is a step leaders must periodically make. Otherwise, companies become antiquated and inefficient, lose relevance, and get left behind. At the same time, business modernization is a process rife with complexities, conflicts, and questions. And it involves taking a deeper dive into how an organization does things, including procedures and deployed technologies.
While each company has to develop its own unique modernization plan, there are some common ways to go about it. By knowing what challenges your team will probably run into, you can try to avoid or conquer them. Starting with a review of your business’s procedures can help you update things more smoothly. Here are four tips for evaluating and upgrading your processes.
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1. Define Your Data Strategy
Before you modernize, you need to determine the best way to move your data from on premises to the cloud. The easiest way is lift and shift, meaning moving the application and associated data to the cloud without making any changes. While this may work for a portion of your company’s data, it likely won’t work for all your companies data. Make a plan to determine which applications need to be refactored to be better compatible with cloud architectures and which can be transferred to the cloud wholesale.
Besides human-related inefficiencies, modernization strategies also look at technologies. Maybe your data pipeline includes too many outdated internal or even custom-built applications. Keeping these aging systems from breaking likely consumes far too much of your data teams’s time and energy. Shifting to modern cloud-based applications will allow you to take advantage of vendor-managed updates, robust cybersecurity protections, and improved scalability.
When leaders map out modernization strategies, they often identify interrelated pitfalls. A team is using a wasteful process tied to an older piece of technology. The current tech can’t automate a routine task or doesn’t have the capabilities the group needs. Or perhaps it’s an absence of technology that is resulting in inefficient processes. Your strategy’s foundation should align procedural and tech needs with your objectives.
2. Don’t Be Afraid to Let Go
Humans are known to be creatures of habit. It’s sometimes hard for people to let go of what they know. Changes, like business modernization, can be challenging when teams become resistant.
Employees might not want to switch from an old process to a new one. Learning a new software program could seem intimidating. And some team members might fear that their jobs will look different or technology will replace them.
Knowing what processes and technologies to keep and what to part ways with is a critical aspect of modernization. If you retain older processes and don’t embrace updated technology, your competitors could outpace you.
The 2020 Dell Boomi IT and Business Report reveals that companies implementing innovation initiatives are investing in analytics and AI. About 41% are integrating big data analytics, and 37% are bringing AI into the mix. Because of these up-to-date tech capabilities, companies can transform areas like customer service and product development.
Insisting on doing things the “tried and true” way or attempting to keep older applications and processes around could become a liability. Too many redundancies and underutilized resources increase the risks of oversights, missed opportunities, and waste.
3. Lay the Groundwork
Business modernization involves replacing older or undesired applications with others. Sometimes the switch is simple because you’re only migrating from an older to a newer version of the same platform. However, your modernization strategy could also include plans to completely change gears. Switching from one platform to another means transferring data, training employees, and integrating the new solution with other applications.
While you might eventually realize savings and other intangible benefits, converting to new applications doesn’t come without hidden costs. There’s a certain level of risk involved in migrating databases and stored information between vastly different platforms. You could lose records and content or run into errors during the migration process.
Readying employees and IT staff for these bumps in the road can reduce some of your growing pains. Instruct staff on how to back up important information and prepare for the switch.
For instance, you might have employees clean up their email inboxes before a migration. Tell them if they need to save attachments to the cloud or a thumb drive. Give staff a rundown of what they can expect their new inboxes to look like. Also, provide extra support until they get up to speed.
4. Plan to Track Performance and Results
Planning to carry out a business modernization strategy is one thing. You know why you’re doing it and what you’re going to replace, consolidate, or get rid of. But what happens after everything’s in place? As part of your strategic review and planning, you should include how you’re going to track performance.
Otherwise, you might implement new technologies and processes that fall by the wayside. Say, for instance, part of your strategy is to improve cross-functional communication. You’ve introduced a couple of centralized collaboration apps, but internal adoption and usage rates are low. While a few employees are using the updated applications and procedures, most are falling back on email and other previous practices.
Those at the top won’t see the original problem still persists if they’re not measuring results. Leaders assume that having novel ways to collaborate and communicate will lead to adoption. Make sure that change is actually happening and that your chosen updated tools and processes are producing results. Establish KPIs and monitoring methods before you implement your new tech-enabled processes.
Modernization is something companies must do to remain competitive and efficient. But integrating updated technologies and processes doesn’t always go as smoothly as leaders would like. Transforming ingrained procedures, familiar responsibilities, and known systems can be jarring and create resistance. Revamping processes ripe for change takes a strategy and a willingness to let go. As you plan, don’t forget to lay the foundation for the changes and incorporate concrete ways to measure results.