For years consultants and analysts have been preaching the benefits of digital transformation. But many enterprises have been slow to transform – remaining mired in legacy systems and processes due to the high costs of change. While the costs of change remain high, technologies have improved substantially, increasing the value for the investment. Now more than ever, your customers have overwhelming expectation of digital-first experiences. This makes clinging to paper based processes a cost in and of itself.
In this post we address why now is the time to make your business case for digitization, and how to build that case.
The List of Disadvantages of Paper Keeps Growing
There are numerous disadvantages of paper-based processes:
- Risk of losing data due to misplacement, theft or destruction
- Increased time to process when compared to straight-thru digital processes
- Increased chance of user error compared to electronic forms with built-in field parameters
- And now there is a new disadvantage to consider – reduced ability to exchange paper and the risk of contagion.
When employees and customers have to physically exchange documents, or employees have to process them in capture centers, germs may also be exchanged. While the common cold and a stomach flu isn’t of significant concern, pandemics such as SARS, the Bird Flu or the more recent COVID-19 bring to bear the importance of digitization.
Wait – Are We Talking About Digital Transformation or Digitization?
In an ideal world firms would undergo digital transformation strategically, intentionally and comprehensively. Instead of replacing manual processes with digital versions of themselves, each process would be re-imagined as a digital-first process that could look quite different.
But we don’t live in an ideal world – some enterprises will have no choice but to “lift and shift” from paper-based processes to digital experiences that mimic the original manual process. And sometimes that has to be enough. If you’re in that situation, you can still make meaningful progress by making process digitization a priority.
Make Sure You Cover These Factors as You Build Your Business Case for Digitization
To get this investment funded you’ll need to demonstrate that you’ve done your homework and know what to expect. At a minimum, be sure to cover these items:
- A summary of the need to digitize that covers both strategic and tactical considerations – e.g. revenue driving benefits, operational benefits, customer and employee experience benefits, and risk management benefits. Tie these to company priorities and values.
- Your preferred solution approaches and at least a short list of likely products and services (such as ECM, intelligent capture, e-forms, workflow and BPM, and collaboration tools) that will integrate with key business systems to deliver digitization.
- A cost benefit-analysis based on the items above.
- Key assumptions that are part of your cost benefit analysis.
- A ballpark budget, including FTE and contractor resources.
- Expected project milestones.
- Mention of intrinsic benefits that can’t be quantified – e.g. social/ethical considerations.
Make Your Case With the Support of Other Stakeholders
Your department won’t be the only one positively impacted by digitization. Before making the ask, align and partner with stakeholders in IT, marketing, customer support, compliance – and any others that have a lot to gain. Be sure you’ve worked through any major objections they might have before making the ask, so you won’t face roadblocks that could have been avoided.
Businesses that continue to ignore the disadvantages of paper-based processes face even greater consequences now. Use the best practices outlined in this post to build a digitization business case that will get you the resources you need to take the next step in your digital transformation.