Thought Leadership

Using Systems of Process as a Pathway to IT Modernization

To truly go digital, organizations must make data intelligent and put it to work.

When it comes to Content Management, I find myself talking consistently about “digital transformation” – in customer discussions, in analyst interactions, in thought leadership and best practice sessions –  even on social channels. But at this point, what does the term really mean? Historically, digital transformation has loosely translated to “it’s time to digitize your paper files”– at least for the last 15 years or so. But as we look to the next decade and beyond, we must evolve our thinking to meet the demands of our modern era. It’s not just about digitizing documents anymore – it’s about infusing life into the information we collect.

Even for those organizations that have evolved from physical paper files to electronic files, the data within digital files are essentially “dead data”. With no strategy, there’s no way to effectively standardize practices or establish proactive processes to boost efficiency, reduce costs, and improve results.

To truly go digital, organizations must make their data intelligent – so that it is working for them, from acquisition throughout the entire document lifecycle.

Reclaiming Control of the Lifecycle

Intelligently capturing data means allowing it to enter the system from multiple points for automatic and immediate capture (via scan, email, fax, electronic forms, SMS, or mobile capture). Harnessing electronic forms to digitally capture data as close to the point of origin as possible is crucial; it ensures data integrity, and just as important, it allows for interaction with the originator during any point in the document lifecycle. Intelligent capture is key to ensuring data quality and making the entire lifecycle as intelligent as possible.

After capture, intuitive workflow creates standardized processes that are fueled by routing rules, which leads to uniform review practices, seamless integration with current systems, secure and compliant storage, and finally, end-of-life actions determined by circumstance and need. By building both universal and industry-specific checkboxes into the document lifecycle, regulations, data privacy practices, and compliance are all considered and adhered to from the point of capture, through storage and end distribution – ensuring complete, consistent audit-readiness.

Adjusting to the Landscape

There are three systems that are intrinsically linked to Content Management per Gartner’s model[i]: Systems of Engagement, Systems of Process, and Systems of Record.

Systems of Engagement drive user adoption with compelling user interfaces and opportunities for collaborative work –  literally engaging employees. Systems of Record are a necessary commodity that fulfills the needs of record retention in a steadfast, resilient manner. Historically, the discussion by industry pundits has been around Systems of Engagement vs. Systems of Record – which has more inherent value? Really, it’s neither one. Each component must work together effectively to help businesses achieve success. But again, without an intuitive connection point and purpose, even digital data is dead data.

That’s why Systems of Process are the lifeblood of this model; they supersede Systems of Engagement and Systems of Record by allowing for a modern, intelligent approach to managing data through comprehensive automated solutions. Forward-thinking organizations must examine the oft-overlooked potential to transform processes – and achieve more – by automating the document lifecycle.

Systems of Process | A Renewed Vision

Considering Systems of Process as a value driver allows users to guide data from the point of acquisition, through dissemination, to retention and potentially to destruction. Refreshing Systems of Process via automation means that throughout the entire document lifecycle, stakeholders benefit from ease of use, full control of the data they’ve ingested, and in turn, modernized Systems of Engagement and Systems of Record.

By shifting focus to Systems of Process and reframing automation as the keystone component, the document lifecycle is reborn. Now critical data is reliably and seamlessly captured, classified, extracted, routed through approvals frameworks, integrated into existing software platforms, and intelligently broken down into actionable metrics for back-end analysis and continuous improvement. This means from start to finish, not only is data accessible and secure, but users now have a solution in place that gives valuable insight into processes around their documents and data.

A modernized System of Process breathes life into stagnant business practices by transforming dead data into intelligent, living metrics that yield actionable results. After all, the end goal is not only to store files – it’s to instill smarter practices and processes moving forward. Systems of Process allow for an invigorated approach to Document Management that greatly improves efficiency, reduces costs, increases ROI, and engages users by offering them an improved experience with your services.

Organizations can no longer simply talk about “going digital”. We’re far beyond that, and to stop at simply migrating files into the digital sphere would mean instituting incomplete practices – a real disservice to employees and clients. For those who are already implementing digital strategies, consider how the data you‘ve got(and the data you’ll continue to encounter) could work for you to enhance the services you provide. Harnessing automation through improved Systems of Process is the solution to engaging users and improving the work you do.

[i] Gartner: Critical Capabilities for Content Collaboration Platforms,  Michael Woodbridge, Monica Basso, Karen A. Hobert, July 9, 2018

This article originally appeared in the May/June 2019 issue of KM World.