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How to Identify Your Digital Workplace Needs

4 minute read
Jill Hannemann avatar

It's easy to identify where corporate communications and collaboration can improve. The same can also be said about business content governance.  

But recognizing a problem and understanding what needs to be done are two very different things.

Helpful intuition is unfortunately not enough to justify initiatives to modernize the digital workplace. 

How can you make a business case for the digital workplace? How do you define the ROI for investment into modernizing what knowledge workers use to be productive? 

Being able to appropriately assess your needs for digital workspace maturity is a) making sure it’s very specific to your team, your business and your customers, and b) understanding it’s importance to remaining competitive to meet today’s demands for connectivity and speed to market.

Identifying Digital Workplace Needs

Process, People, Technology

To identify technology needs, look for the point where people intersect processes. Knowledge worker productivity relies on the nexus of people, process and technology, and process is the glue that connects people and technology.

When you examine your processes, ask: where are the bottlenecks? Identify any missed opportunities between every step. Consider questions like: is the transition smooth? Is the right amount of information transferred to the next group of specialists?

What it comes down to is this: the digital workspace should support the tasks workers need to do to get their jobs done. Processes, as the glue, need to ensure:

  • Efficiency in execution
  • The ability to accommodate distance i.e.: geographic separation
  • Tasks can be accomplished on any device (browser, mobile, tablet)
  • Simplification, without sacrificing detail 

Collaboration in the Digital Workplace

Collaboration ties closely to corporate communication and how people work together. It’s about capturing knowledge: for example, the value you lose in email chains that only two people view, but could benefit more people. Collaboration is also about the speed and efficiency in simultaneously accomplishing the same task on the same document. 

When exploring collaboration in your company, evaluate the workplace as a whole. How do people collaborate? Via email or through in-person meetings? Do they spend time managing versions and collecting feedback? 

Ingraining collaboration into tasks can potentially lead to improvements in productivity.

Learning Opportunities

Managing Information

Our businesses are generating unstructured data at an increasingly rapid pace, which makes it even more important to have an architecture and infrastructure in place to protect, manage and retain this corporate knowledge and capital. Information management presents an opportunity for many companies and supports:

  • Searchability
  • Browsability
  • Retention
  • Reuse
  • Security and Compliance

Today’s data, both the various file types and the sheer amount of information, demands an infrastructure that can seamlessly handle and process it for user’s needs. Information management is vital to the success of any organization — so employees can create, retain and easily access proprietary information.

Addressing Needs – Building a Business Case

A digital workplace doesn't need to be all-encompassing, and it’s not an “all or nothing” proposition. Needs may be team-based, department-based or enterprise-wide. Starting off with a foundational investment in a platform like Office 365 can definitely create a daunting “Phase 1” — but can also provide the necessary baseline for significant benefits down the line and result in lower investments for future phases.  

To help prioritize initiatives, we've developed this simple matrix:

Significant Benefit
Significant Investment
Significant Benefit
Minor Investment
Minor Benefit
Minor Investment
Minor Benefit
Significant Investment
  • Benefit = Improvement to the organization either through time savings, information retention, improving process quality and efficiency
  • Investment = the time, money and resources required to institute change.

When creating an adoption plan for any digital workplace initiative, factor in the variables of change and disruption. A phased roadmap can help you make gradual change while adjusting to these variables. If launching a platform like Office 365, prioritize tackling more significant needs over minor ones. This will smooth the process of implementation and make it much more manageable. 

If you’ve reached this point in the article and decided your digital workplace hits a lot of the above criteria — congratulations. You are part of a small group of businesses with a mature digital workspace, complete with high-functioning corporate communication and corporate governance.  

For everyone else, kick start your initiative with a simple gap analysis in key lines of business and/or operations. The gap analysis will create a checklist to help determine where your digital workplace needs lie. Base your roadmap off of this checklist. Create a multi-phased roadmap, to transform your workplace and achieve the maturity your company needs to stay in the game. 

About the author

Jill Hannemann

Jill Hannemann is the practice director for Microsoft Office 365 and SharePoint Advisory Services at WithumSmith+Brown, P.C. (formerly Portal Solutions), one of the top 30 accounting and advisory firms in the country. She is a facilitator for technology transformation initiatives, looking to modernize and improve process and transaction through the application of technology.

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