Three factors for successful digitization processes in SMEs
Digitalization is the future and its potential is far from exhausted. Digitalization does not exclusively mean the technological transformation and optimization of working conditions within a company, but rather a far-reaching rethinking, in the minds of everyone involved. Successful digital process optimization only takes place with people, not against them: Digital transformation should not displace human labor, but effectively mediate between man and machine. More efficient and timesaving work not only benefits the company in terms of output and overall plant effectiveness, it also ensures more focused and satisfied employees.
For this fundamental understanding, a profound change must enter the corporate culture: Digitalization is a company-wide task. Those responsible must set an example, manage it across the board, and align it with the company's own goals and mission statement.
1. Digital transformation must first and foremost be initiated in people's minds.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (German poet) once wrote: "In the end it is only the mind that makes any technology alive." And it's true: People are and remain the most valuable resource - in every company. Far-reaching changes can only work if people welcome the change and recognize the benefits it brings. To achieve this, it is essential to explain what we are changing - and why we are doing it. For Jérôme Newie, Head of Operations at thyssenkrupp Automotive Body Solutions and adm user since 2017, one thing is certain: "Such far-reaching process optimization only works if we take every individual with us right from the start and demonstrate all the benefits of a digital system, make them literally tangible."
2. Successful implementation only works step by step
Transparency and cooperation are essential if we want to break up established structures and optimize them. To this end, we involve our customers - including our colleagues from Automotive Body Solutions in the role of our intragroup customers - right from the start. For this reason, we often start each project with a clear pilot area where additional ideas and change requests from our clients can be identified and included in the rollout. Through a step-by-step changeover, we involve everyone in the entire process, from those responsible at the management level to the production workers themselves.
An ad hoc total transformation never leads to success, so we break the process down into individual work packages. Each one solves specific problems and generates added value. The sooner we involve employees and their different perspectives in the implementation, the faster it will be completed.
3. Digital process optimization requires ongoing training and support
Implementing new concepts and approaches company-wide is time-consuming and involves effort - especially for a process as comprehensive as digitalization. "Ultimately, it is crucial to continuously support such a digital system with training and education," clarifies Jérôme Newie. Employees build up new skills and work processes are actively adapted in a targeted manner. We provide our colleagues with comprehensive support and also offer them the opportunity to give digital feedback and get help at any time.
The human success factor
After the three factors mentioned above, what remains as the decisive element for successful digitalization? People with their expertise: They interpret the digitally collected data and draw lessons from it in order to initiate a continuous improvement process; they make the decisions. Digital solutions do not take over the decision-making, they only help. Digital systems such as adm provide the right data to the right employee at the right time and support the optimal design of processes.