Automating Digital Transformation Design
Well before COVID digital transformation was a priority for most organisations. It’s since grown into a lucrative business for consultancies, systems integrators, and tech companies alike. Given what we’re talking about here is the use of software to convert business processes from analogue to digital, isn’t it ironic that so much of the work to figure out how to achieve that goal is done manually?
Some aspects of digital transformation are manual because they need to be – management of change, for example. Taking the organisation with you through the change and making it stick isn’t something that can (or should) be automated. But what about the tasks involved in designing the transformation – capturing the current reality, architecting the target model, identifying the gaps, and plotting out the roadmap? Today, consultants or analysts collect user stories, capture process flows, and then document them for analysis - the good ones use a proper tool the rest do it in MSOffice / Google Workspace. Some even run visioning workshops in which graphic artists draw elegant pictures on walls. It’s like creating a map by sending out a team of cartographers to walk the terrain, rather than using satellite imagery.
The argument for changing the way we design our digital transformations is the same one used to sell digital in the first place – it would be more effective and efficient if we automated the process. A predominantly manual process means it’s harder to get proper coverage of the current baseline and time consuming to maximise leverage of best practices (whether that’s process flows, transformation initiatives or the right technology to deploy). On top of that collaboration and solution verification is harder, manipulating data for scenarios and business cases consumes disproportionate amounts of time and resources, and the lack of integration with downstream delivery tooling creates further overhead. All of this eats into the time available for the important stuff. I believe we can do better.
More physical industries, like manufacturing, are ahead compared to information and service industries. They have been using tools to automate design tasks for years. Maybe we should take a leaf out of their playbook and use design automation platforms that can do things like:
Rapid and complete discovery of current state
Maintaining digital IP (e.g. libraries of future states and transformation initiatives)
Auto-matching of current and future state to identify gaps (and initiatives to gaps)
Auto generation of scenarios and business cases
Auto production of documentation (solution blueprints, staffing models, sprint initiation artefacts)
PMP integration to close the loop on implementation and realisation
The case for automating business transformation design is compelling - millions in benefits delivered earlier, reduced waste, and increased precision. Greater efficiency brings another bonus too - because the process becomes easier, it could be continuous with companies rolling out best practice enhancements as easy as updates to our favourite apps. We should stop wasting effort on those activities which are better automated and use the liberated capacity to focus our experience and expertise on getting the big choices right and then making the change happen.