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Don’t Mistake Digital Transformation for Business Transformation

By Erin Koss, CPA is an Andersen Business Consulting Alumni (1993-1999), and CEO of Syte Consulting Group, Inc.

In the years we’ve been in business as ERP consultants, ERP has become the foundation of digital transformation for family-owned manufacturing companies.

Much has changed with digital transformation in the last 10 years — and recent events have changed it faster and even more dramatically.

Yet one thing remains true:

Digital transformation is just a subset of business transformation.

The fact is, you can’t do digital if you don’t have a handle on your business processes. And you can’t do anything with your business processes until you have an understanding of the people involved, the roles they play, and their capabilities and capacity.

With this foundation of people, processes and technology infrastructure, only then does a new or upgraded ERP move a business forward in a meaningful way.

I loved this quote from a Deloitte article:

“… some organisations falter because of a ‘knowing-doing gap’: They focus too quickly on defining solutions, instead of aligning first on why they believe the need for (rapid) change exists. They also fail to build up knowledge that will shape holistic guidance and strategic direction for a response to digital disruption. This rushing into ‘doing’ results in quick fixes and a fragmented response.”

This is why, as we’ve planned for our own growth as a company, we’ve doubled down on our focus on business transformation. Yes, we are ERP consultants, and it’s a new or upgraded ERP that most often serves our fast growing, family-owned manufacturing company clients (though not always) — but the business transformation starts long before new software solution is installed, and continues long after implementation. It smooths the path for future innovation, including the future of ERP, and makes the load lighter for continued growth.

Business transformation starts with a clear business strategy.

Critical to a successful strategy are your people, processes and technology. When you align these three factors with your growth goals, you can get answers to the bigger questions that technology alone can’t answer, including:

  • What will give your business the biggest return for the investment?
  • How can you play to your existing strengths?
  • What should your primary focus be now? Next quarter? This year?
  • What matters most to your customers and partners?
  • Are there collaborative opportunities to work together for the betterment of all?

The best ERP in the world won’t help your company if your people, processes, and technology infrastructure are misaligned with your business strategy and vision.

Business transformation, at its core, is the process of creating this alignment.

Syte’s Road to Business Transformation

Business transformation is a journey, much like a road trip. At the beginning, you may be starting out on a bumpy gravel road. As you move through the steps, the gravel gets smoother and eventually turns into fresh asphalt. Eventually you’ll reach a multi-lane highway, with clear, understandable signs and lines directing you where to go.

Based on our many years of experience guiding family-owned manufacturing companies through this process, we’ve developed a framework that walks our clients through the steps to get to that smoother pavement efficiently. And once you’re on this business transformation highway, making continuous improvements over time becomes infinitely easier.

This framework includes four steps:

  1. Measure business transformation readiness.
  2. Assess the current state of business processes and the people who are driving them.
  3. Evaluate and select technology solutions that meet critical business requirements (including, but not limited to, ERP).
  4. Implement solution(s).

In each step, Syte provides leadership, oversight, capabilities and capacity to help ensure success — while keeping our eyes on your ultimate destination.

It’s important that during each step along this road, we are efficient with your time and ours, so we follow the same process each and every time:

  1. Discover
  2. Define
  3. Deliver

With this process, our clients get everything they need to succeed with their new or upgraded technology solutions — and they also get a clear roadmap for business success.

Your ERP solution will have a much bigger impact on your company when it is implemented in an environment where your people, processes and technology infrastructure have been considered, worked through (or with) and optimized.

And no, this doesn’t necessarily increase the cost of the project! Implementing the wrong ERP, or implementing an ERP solution in an organization that isn’t well prepared for it, however, will.

In fact, some companies are now making our business transformation process part of their annual planning process. I think this is powerful. After going through the process the first time, revisiting it on an annual basis is much less work, and it’s much easier and faster to make incremental changes. Companies making business transformation part of the ongoing conversation are having an easier time continuously optimizing their business and staying ahead of competitors.

Structured for Your Success

We’ve taken our lessons-learned as a company and created this offering to maximize our clients’ return on investment. It takes our clients through the necessary steps to achieve greater business success — not just fancy up their technology.

A successful business transformation should positively impact:

  • Business processes
  • Roles and responsibilities
  • How work gets done
  • How your company interacts with customers and suppliers

For family-owned manufacturing companies, ERP remains a necessity. But the business and market environments have changed, and shoe-horning in a new software solution won’t solve the bigger business challenges.

Let’s prepare your company for success — not just for a new ERP solution.

Erin Koss, CPA is an Andersen Business Consulting Alumni (1993-1999), and CEO of Syte Consulting Group, Inc. She is known for helping family-owned manufacturing companies scale with vision and integrity. Taking a people-first, process and technology readiness approach, Erin and the team at Syte ensure companies are ready to take on big change initiatives like ERP before diving in headfirst. A native to the Pacific Northwest, she enjoys traveling, being outdoors, hiking, biking, rowing, and supporting local culinary scene. Talk to Erin about preparing your company for sustainable growth.