Digital Transformation is a general term to describe moving a manual process to a digital (computerized) solution to increase efficiency and automation. This has obviously been going on for some time as this is the main benefit of software solutions in the first place. Recently the term has been re-energized by marketing teams, certainly in the document management industry…and with good reason. The current landscape of “plug-ins” and “integrations” makes it easier to achieve a more cohesive inter-operable platform made up of different technologies.

This changes the focus of document management slightly. No longer just a standalone solution, but more a part of the overall corporate technology platform, serving document management to both users and business applications.

Do We Really Need This?

Customers read these lofty articles about Digital Transformation, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Analytics etc and may be forgiven to think that it does not apply to them. Cries of “we don’t want to be on the leading edge of technology“ can ring out as technology managers are being pressured by execs on the status of the digital transformation strategy. The bottom line is that every organization can benefit from this on some level. If you go through Step 1 below, this will help you understand the value implementing a digital transformation can have.

Step 1: A Design is “Still” Key

Although tempting to press the “sign-up” button on a few cloud based technology sites to make you feel as though you have achieved something, there is still no substitute for design. Taking a step back and understanding the following aspects is critical:

  1. Are any of our documents governed by external regulations, with respect to managing, processing or retention?
  2. Do we need any data currently locked in documents to make better business decisions by making it available to other solutions, like Analytics platforms?
  3. Although we may archive documents now, what stages do documents go through when they are “active” that are labor intensive to manage? Are there opportunities/efficiencies in digitizing the complete lifecycle of documents?
  4. What other systems/platforms can take advantage of document management?
  5. How many document repositories do we currently have? (File shares, DropBox, Box, Office 365, CRM etc) Are they the right systems for the documents they are storing?

Step 2: Design Your Document Technology Platform

It is only when you have considered the types of documents your business uses and the way they use them, can you select the right technologies. You may have your hand up at this point asking “we already have document management technologies, can’t we use those?”. True, document management is not a new concept, and is quite often bundled with other technologies. Examples: Microsoft SharePoint with Office 365, a document management module as part of business applications, or document attachments to your CRM. Every system seems to have some sort of document management component. In fact you may have more document repositories than you need.

The strategy must avoid fragmenting your document management to the point where the functionally and compliance you need cannot be implemented. The question is whether existing technologies, albeit easy to use and implement, meet the long term digital transformation requirements. Now we have the design (Step 1) you can properly consider the suitability of the technologies you have, identify the gaps, and procure technologies or integrations to fill them.

Step 3: Define a Roadmap

Global or enterprise strategies (pick you name preference) can fail due to ill defined implementation plans or roadmaps. The strategy needs to broken down into manageable projects with measurable results. Focus on the high-value areas first to help maintain long term momentum.

Step 4: Measure Results and Refine

We live in a fast-paced “agile” world of stand-up meetings and an iterative evolution. The production go-live often signifies the end of a project, but it’s the start of the business operating in that environment. Business changes and evolves…technology must change and evolve with it…implement continuous evaluation and improvement.


A lot of points in this article are common sense, but creating a defined plan is key to make sure the “big picture” requirements and objectives are being assessed and managed.