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What does digital transformation look like for an Engineering company? Learn the key pillars and how to start measuring success.
By Matt Street, Information Systems Manager: Engineering and Manufacturing
Digital transformation is a buzzword you might have heard a lot lately. This transformational process is an overhaul of culture, processes, and technology infrastructure, leveraging cloud technology, unlocked siloed data, and analytics. It can save resources, rocket efficiency, and get you ahead of the competition – if implemented and practiced strategically.
What does digital transformation look like for an Engineering company?
Engineering companies may already have built in their own set of automation and systems workflows to help unlock data and reduce manual processes. When we come to companies like yours, this is what we often see – the practice of engineering is already baked into many systems, although it’s often conducted on an ad hoc basis.
What we encourage companies like this to do is take this practice and implement it more holistically. Instead of creating automated workflows on a case-by-case basis, we want to encourage an overarching strategy that not only redesigns all systems and workflows across the company for increased efficiency but can be followed in a repeatable manner when new systems come online or changes are made to existing infrastructure.
Your overarching digital transformation strategy may involve key goals such as:
- Single source of data truth, removing double ups across software, improving data integrity
- Highly organised digital work areas, by project or team
- Built to be collaborative; including the ability to easily work with external vendors
- Industry, safety, and digital compliance built in to systems
- File versioning, with the ability to fork files
- Files more readily available; in the office or off-site, on any device
- Intelligent search across areas and functions
- Automated workflows to remove manual processes
- Fast conversion of physical sketches to digital versions of documents
- Highly secure with different policies for different user groups
What are the key pillars to ensure a successful digital transformation?
As we mentioned previously, to successfully implement digital transformation and then ensure its success is ongoing, you need to change culture, processes, and technology infrastructure.
The culture part of the equation comes from successful leadership, strategy, and employee training. Organising a dedicated company function (in the form of management dedicated to digital transformation and strategy, working groups, and board advocates) is the first step. Developing solid strategy that can be refined over time by these leaders ensures you stay up to date with best practices in automation, AI, innovative software, and systems. Employee training and empowerment in these new processes ensures ownership at all levels, with a feedback loop from staff on the ground that can benefit leaders and strategy.
For processes, it involves careful examination of all your existing workflows, both digitized and manual, and seeing where efficiency gains can be made. This can, not surprisingly, take some time. Rather than doing this in a function-by-function manner, seeing where single source/s of truth can be placed first is a good start – then you can work function by function to connect systems.
Taking a look at technology infrastructure might just be the easy part of the equation. Hopefully you have a register of existing on-site, off-site, and cloud systems, software, networking, and access capabilities – or can create a register for evaluation. From here, finding outdated infrastructure and workflows can lead towards a more up-to-date infrastructure design that is also more futureproof.
Take the advice of PwC if you want to be successful in your digital transformation strategy:
“Companies moving forward on a digital transformation are well advised to take an enterprise-wide view during the planning and prioritizing process if they hope to fully align their investments to their overall digital strategy.”
How can engineering companies measure digital transformation success?
When talking about digital transformation, it pays to shift not only your practices but your mindset about metrics.
CIO magazine notes some KPIs that can help track your company’s’ digital transformation success. These include items such as:
- “The number of staff identified as “digital citizens,” those who casually consume technology, to “digital disruptors,” who conceive of and champion changes in business processes”
- Number of connected IoT devices and sensors
- Consumption of internal and external APIs
- Cybersecurity posture
- Client uptake of digital channel use (including chatbots) rather than traditional communications such as phone and email
In tandem with developing your digital transformation strategy or roadmap, you can develop these KPIs – each company’s will be unique.
Remember, that to measure the effect of digital transformation, you should collect these metrics before undergoing the process, for your benchmark.
Let’s talk strategy
Let’s start your digital transformation journey. Sit down with our experts in technology for the Engineering industry to embark on developing a strategy for your company’s digital transformation. We can analyse your current systems and culture and collaboratively find the perfect fit for starting your journey, through to lifecycle rollout, and ongoing support.
We aren’t just software technology partners – we are strategic partners. And we can be there to ensure you are successful in your technological evolution. Check here the Engineering IT services we offer and contact us now on 1300 351 991 or fill in the form below to set up a meeting and learn more.