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Businesses today are working to shift from keeping pace to setting the pace. One way they’re doing that is by striving for digital maturity— the ability to seamlessly incorporate key technological advancements across the organization for improved results.

“As costs go up, it becomes increasingly important to identify technology strategies and areas of opportunity to automate and streamline certain business processes to save both money and time,” says Lauren Hanna, vice president of sales at Blue Technologies Inc. “There are many ways to achieve those benefits, but they need to be part of an enterprise-wide strategy to be most effective.”

A lot of money can be wasted if digital transformation is not approached thoughtfully, she says. Digitally mature companies have a technology roadmap that gives them the flexibility and agility to transform technological advancements into cost-effective business drivers.

Smart Business spoke with Hanna about how companies can reach digital maturity.

Where does the improvement process begin?

The process of transforming into a digitally mature company starts by identifying the team that will primarily carry the initiative into the company’s respective departments. That typically includes someone from accounting and operations, the CFO and/or controller, and ideally the CEO and president. It’s practical to have HR involved, and the CIO or someone who can lead from an IT standpoint.

During an initial meeting with a managed services provider to identify the issues, the aim is to understand the business and the processes it runs — both from a technical standpoint (what software or hardware are they using) as well as why these processes exist and who’s using them. Sometimes these processes are dictated by regulatory requirements, so that initial meeting will look to understand what, if any, legal requirements or other standards need to be followed for compliance.

After identifying the issues and understanding the core processes and systems, interviews are conducted to get a deeper understanding of the technology and how it’s used while also gauging the team’s attitude towards technology. This helps identify bottlenecks, time-consuming processes and challenges. From there, a physical assessment is undertaken to identify inventory assets and follow different business processes through the system from start to finish. That gives a clear sense of the business infrastructure and protocols.

Connecting everything to an enterprise-wide strategy requires talking through the findings, sharing industry best practices and then identifying the best software and hardware options applicable to the environment. A roadmap for the digital transformation is then created that highlights opportunities for improvement and lays the foundation for a digital transformation strategy to achieve the company’s goals.

Why is a technology roadmap important?

Companies without a technology roadmap can have different departments buying software or hardware independent of one another. That creates issues with compatibility and duplication. It also leads to a disconnection, making it harder to support the technology and strategize upgrades.

A technology roadmap can help companies address not just their immediate challenges, but their future challenges as well. A unified strategy creates a framework for conversations that will continue to drive organizational awareness of departmental issues, identify where such issues are shared and uniformly address them. That saves a great deal on costs. It also helps control maintenance and subscription fees, and identify areas of under usage — a software package purchased previously, but not being utilized, for example — so that companies are only paying for what they need.

Technology is ever-evolving. There’s seemingly always a new solution for a business challenge. So, it’s important to get comfortable talking technology with your leadership teams. Identify partners that can help provide a framework for these conversations that lead to potentially transformational capabilities.