On Wednesday29th April we ran the first in our Digital Accelerator Series of webinars: Go Digital in 5 Fundamental steps: What you need for successful digital adoption, hosted by our very own Helen Poole (4PACK UK Managing Director) and Karen Thompson (4PACK UK Implementation Manager).
“Going Digital” and the subject of Digital Transformation can seem like a daunting task at first. But, once broken down into smaller more manageable parts it is most definitely achievable. In the context of consumer goods, more specifically Food & Beverage, we showcased our 5 fundamental steps to kick-starting your digital transformation journey. But firstly, and more importantly, why go digital at all?
Why go digital:
Centralising your information into a single solution enables you to:
What is going digital?
“Going Digital” is a transformational journey, but in essence it means turning information into usable data. That is done by centralising where your information is held and making it accessible where and when it’s needed – by users, or by other digital stages of the process.
Being truly digital allows you to adopt a more agile way of working where all stakeholders collaborate effectively, eliminating risk and reducing time cost and resource. Adopting holistic digital practices is a game changer for businesses of all sizes.
Follow our 5 Fundamentals to ensure digital success:
1. Get Connected (Helen)
It’s about making systems work for you to help you collaborate and share information at any time from any place - home/office working, between yourselves and collaborators in your supply chain.
The creation of this network is invaluable and will increase efficiencies across the board. But the important thing to remember is that the bigger the network is, the more valuable and useful it becomes. Get as many stakeholder and processes involved as possible to make your systems work for you.
The key is bringing information and processes into a digital environment, getting you to the starting line of your digital transformation journey.
Platforms usually benefit from the so-called network effect, i.e. the more stakeholders are attracted to the platform, the more valuable the platform becomes for individual stakeholders.
Source: The Role of Platforms for the Digitalisation of European Industry (June 2016, Siemens)
2. Single source of truth (Helen)
It’s a commonly used expression in the industry and it is vital for digital success. Having a single source of truth means creating a central verification point where all users and systems have access to the correct versions of information and data, ensuring inputs match outputs.
But, as with a good network, a single source of truth is only valuable when it’s being used! To really benefit from this, it has to be championed within the business, participation has to be encouraged from the top down The more processes, touchpoints and stakeholders that can be included into your solution the greater opportunity you have to drive efficiencies.
“It’s really about de-risking errors in your process…We have examples where people are in their current ways of working on spreadsheet managed processes are looking at 10 iterations upwards for artwork approval because they don’t have a central source of information both from a content perspective and the version controlling is a complete nightmare too! In having a single source of truth, you can really drive that ‘right first time’ methodology and hit the industry gold standard of 1.6 iterations per artwork approval”
Helen Poole, 4PACK UK
3. End-to-end Management (Helen)
“End to End Management” is something we’re very passionate about at 4Pack, it’s very much part of our DNA and something we talk to the industry about a lot.
In a nutshell, it’s about having a complete view over your processes and making sure every moving part is synchronized with each other. It allows you to constantly refine and optimise your projects and efficiencies. Having a big picture view means you can identify bottlenecks easily, fix them, test them, and incrementally improve as you move forward.
Track and measure your data, stitch it together and make sure you include a project management function to manage it and drive automation (Fig 1.1)
Fig 1.1: End-to-end Management
4. Leverage Automation (Karen)
Automations can really transform the way you do things on a day to day basis by making the most of systems to replace manual or repetitive tasks or activities. Systems aren’t slowed by external distractions; you can accelerate the pace of work as well as driving consistency by omitting human error.
“Systems don’t have meetings, they don’t have absences, they don’t have working from home, they just get on with the job so things will automatically be accelerated.”
Karen Thompson, 4PACK UK
For example, workflow automation can speed up how you get from A to B in your business process and free up people’s time to focus on where they really add value in the business, rather than chasing people for actions by phone or email.
In short adding Automation is the next step in going digital. However, what I have been talking about is automation within a single system – and we know in companies there will be many systems in play.
5. Integration (Karen)
Integration is about getting systems to work well together: Establishing a digital estate or ecosystem where systems can seamlessly push, share or update data over the web in a one or two way manner. One system hands off to another and then receives an update later when the second system is done. It’s one big digital machine! (Fig 1.2)
Fig 1.2: Integration
The benefits are numerous: overall level of risk is reduced from missed data and double handling of work, so manual input is low. There is acceleration as triggers between systems being automated.
SaaS (software as a service) systems are perfectly placed to integrate within your existing system landscape. They are all web based and generally come with a developed set of APIs and integration points
Integration is the future here for all our digital systems – each one we add to our portfolio needs to integrate easily with our existing systems.
Q: What are the primary challenges of going digital?
A: The overall number of challenges to going digital are minimal, and certainly don’t out-weigh the reasons not to do so. However, the primary challenge for most businesses is change management, that being achieving buy in from your organisation and considering different ways of working. The key to success here is to ensure that all the necessary teams and stakeholders are involved in process as early as possible from the start to make sure they give their view and contribute – no one wants a system forced on them!
This is about ensuring that there is a representative from every relevant part of the business to be able to work through what their processes are today and what they would look like in a digital way of working. The assistance of an experienced project/implementation lead here will help to guide everyone through the process.
Q: What can businesses do to prepare for going digital?
A: There are a few things you can do to put yourself into a good position on the digital “start line”, such as mapping out your user landscape. Who are the teams that you should be including within the system? It also helps to begin pulling together your data. For example, get your hands on some specification examples to understand what sort data you’re going to put into the system. Building some flowcharts of your current processes here could really help your thinking if you’re not familiar.
Most importantly however, is to understand why you’re going digital?, what are your success criteria? Having criteria to judge success against makes your decision process much easier when assessing system providers to work with. For example, think about your users, what do they want to do more or less of? Perhaps spend less time in meetings, search more easily for content and specifications or reduce cycle times? Be sure to clarify the clear objectives of the business which can then be used to map against a potential solution.
Q: How can I justify the costs associate with changing to digital?
A: Creating a business case to move to a digital way of working is challenging for many people the main reason being that, in many cases, it is extremely difficult to get a handle on the understanding the time and cost associated with the way projects are managed with your existing way of working. Which is in itself one of the key reasons to change!
So, a good place to start is thinking about the costs associated with your product launch process. For example, how many SKUs are managed, number of artworks, cost per new artwork, cost per change request, average number of artwork cycles, number of approvers, translation costs etc. Then you need to think about the time it takes to launch a product and within that process – how much time is spent managing specifications and artwork. Once you have gathered that data and you have fully scoped the requirement with your digital vendor, you should then know how much time can be cut from the process, and by working to a right first time methodology how much that will could reduce potential spend.
These figures alone should provide you with a clear ROI, but you can also factor in the intangible benefits associated with moving to a digital way of working – continuous improvements, risk mitigation, being compliant, instant scalability being able to innovate in an agile way and increase in sales value due to the reduction in time to launch.
Q: We don’t have an IT department how do we fill this gap?
When you do not have an IT department (or even when you do!) then you need to look for a digital provider that delivers a Software as a Service (SaaS) solution which means that all of the more technical IT tasks (maintaining servers, data back-up, security, support etc.) are managed as part of the SaaS fee. Your digital provider should also work with you to understand your requirements and manage the implementation process to ensure that your teams are happy with the new way of working and have been provided with the appropriate training. Ongoing online support is also important, particularly if you do not have an it Team.
Q: How can I make sure my data is secure?
A: Any digital vendor should be able to provide you with the detail about how they manage and ensure your data is constantly secure plus provide a service agreement (contract) to confirm that. Essentially, when selecting a SaaS provider they will take care of all the security of your solution and that will be at both an infrastructure and application level.
By infrastructure, we are talking about the servers, how they are maintained, the back-up and disaster recovery disciplines that are in place plus the policies associated with both the physical and virtual access to the servers (‘cloud’).
By application, we are talking about the controls, checks and balances that are in place to define user access and visibility. Permission controlled access will determine who sees what and their associated rights.
Join us on Wednesday 20th May for our next webinar where we’ll be evaluating how to increase your compliance through a digital approach, follow the link to register!
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