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PHOTO: Helena Lopes

Just a few years ago, digital transformation technologies like automation fell firmly within the purview of IT departments.

Frontline employees may have interacted with automation day-to-day, but they weren’t often involved in the decision-making for these tools. That’s no longer the case. As transformational technology has advanced, so has its user base. Now, it’s not only tech decision makers who are becoming automation-literate, it’s frontline employees as well.

But is your business setting employees up for success with transformation tech? And do your employees have a role in the transformation decision-making processes?

Digital Transformation Should Be a Collective Effort

To achieve sustainable digital transformation, your efforts need to involve every employee in the organization. After committing to this rule, the next step is to offer up digital transformation tools to every single team, rather than limiting them to IT professionals and software developers.

A few years ago, the idea of putting digital transformation tools in the hands of non-IT employees may have sounded crazy. Give LOB employees a stake in tech-centered business decisions? Where would they even begin?

But it’s possible — and necessary — now that the right automation tech exists, which allows even non-developers to design and implement automated processes. After all, IT staff are notoriously backlogged with requests. If the power to improve processes sits solely in their court, efficiency suffers because of IT’s high demand across the business.

Additionally, no one knows the individual frontline processes and their struggles like the workers themselves. Each department likely has its own unique hiccups that repeatedly slow down processes. Equipping the experts to fix their own processes offers the most benefit.

For example, consider a new customer contract that has to make its way through multiple departments across the business, including finance, human resources, sales, customer service and operations.

The finance leader might get swamped at the end of the month and not even see the contract come through for her approval. The HR team may need more time than is allotted during its leg of the approval process so they can confirm all elements follow company policy. A sales leader may miss the department approvals coming through while on the road and inadvertently let it sit too long. But with access to process automation tools, each of these leaders can set their own rules for how they’re alerted to review a contract.

In the end, the technology takes over repetitive tasks and processes, freeing up LOB workers to accomplish more important work. In doing so, it removes an element of risk associated with human error in manual processes. Your business operations will be more efficient, more accurate and more reliable.

Related Article: How Will Automation Affect the Future Workplace?

How to Democratize Your Tech the Right Way

As you strive to democratize your digital transformation responsibilities along with the tech that enables it, consider several ground rules to guide your new approach.

  • Rely on low-code tools. When introducing automation technology to all employees, it’s important to make it approachable for all skill levels. The rise of low-code tools makes this easier. If some IT leaders maintain a purist stance toward software development and look down on low-code tools, encourage them to drop these attitudes in the name of democratization and allowing LOB employees to optimize their own processes. Ultimately, the organization — including overwhelmed IT staff — will be better off for it.
  • Trust frontline employees to know what they need. No one knows the broken processes of a job function like the employees who actually have to carry them out. They have a firsthand view of problems, and chances are they have their own theories for how to fix them. By empowering them to help determine a better way, the whole business wins.
  • Train IT to work collaboratively with frontline employees. The push to democratize tech doesn’t mean IT no longer has a role in redesigning processes. The IT team is still crucial to meeting employees’ technology needs. But rather than dictating employee solutions, they should work with employees to design the right solutions and ensure that employees are capable of overseeing the maintenance of technology tools on their own. LOB employees can tweak their own solutions as their process needs change.

Digital transformation sits at the top of all businesses’ list of priorities. You can’t achieve your digital transformation goals if the necessary tools are concentrated in one area of your business. To set yourself up for sustainable innovation, commit to opening up automation access to all teams.

Related Article: Democratization of AI Tools Is Beginning