Like many other companies, you are certainly in a digital transformation. It is often the case that one is faced with the fact that existing and grown processes need to be changed and digitized. There is pressure from management and headwinds from employees or vice versa. As a consultant and researcher, I am often on site in companies and experience many variants of digitization in companies. In the following I would like to explain what I have experienced and give my tips. If you want to see my experiences in more detail, then check out my article on the subject Organizational rebels .

1. Increase the level of maturity step by step

A company does not become a digital leader overnight. It is therefore important to first determine the current level of maturity. If invoices are currently still being written by hand, then it makes sense to first map them using a tool or to support them with a Word macro instead of “digitizing” them directly in an ERP system. On the one hand, this is cheaper and, on the other hand, it is less overwhelming for the employees. Therefore, always try to determine the current level of maturity of a process and then increase it step by step.

2. Do not tie digitization to one person

“Mr. / Ms. X. You are now responsible for digitization and the company-wide ERP system!” I have never seen such a position successfully drive digitization in the company. In my opinion, digitization cannot be tied to one person, but must be driven by each department itself. So give each team the task of “digitizing themselves” and only offer the support of a “digitization officer”.

3. Digitize unloved processes and ask employees

If you are just about to start your first digitization projects, then you should first and foremost ensure that you support processes that nobody wants to do analogue anyway. For example, for my former customer, that was the travel expense report. It also makes sense to simply ask the employees: “ What should we digitize for you? “The advantage is that there is no headwind from the employees and new solutions can be used directly.

4. Avoid holistic solutions

Avoid holistic solutions. These are usually not halves or whole. In addition, they cost a lot of money and contradict the trend to remain flexible. So take one tool for each process step and link the tools together in a meaningful way. I would like to give an example of this in the illustration. A typical sales process is digitized here. Each relevant step has a specific tool. It is now the task of your IT to link these together in a meaningful way (keyword: workflow).
Reading tip: Example of process digitization

Example of process digitization

5. Use managed services and trials

The advantage of this small tool chain is that, especially as an SME, you do not have to bring in any large tools. Try a few tools for a process step. These are often available in a 30-day trial version. A manager once said to me: “We’ll get the 30-day trial version and if no one is using it after 30 days, we’ll cancel it and get the next one. “Furthermore, many companies notice that IT tool operation is not a lot of fun, so that it is worth simply having all tools serviced by providers. Since the tools often cost between 5 and 100 euros a month, this can be easily paid for.
Reading tip: Example of an IT organization

Conclusion: digitization is trial and error

These are 5 tips I was able to take away from my time as a consultant. I have seen many SMEs that have successfully achieved great success despite small budgets. I think that the digital change is still trial and error and that you should try a lot quickly and easily. I hope that my tips can provide some impetus and help one or two managers with digitization. You can find more about trial and error in mine Articles on digital business models .
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I blog about the influence of digitalization on our working world. For this purpose, I provide content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday professional life. I am an executive in an SME and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the Chair of IT Management.

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