5 Criteria for Prioritizing Business Optimization Projects in the Digital Space

“Going digital” – the globally pervasive term for the vague process of improving elements of your business with the fruit of new technology, such as advanced cloud-based analytics and machine learning solutions. Wireless communication is common these days, while cheap sensors, mobile devices, and other hardware enable businesses to direct and process oceans of data, manage people and equipment remotely, and boost the efficiency of field service personnel.

Clearly, digital can reshape any aspect of modern enterprise. Consider QM, an iPad application that True Interaction built for Lifetime Brands. QM enables organizations to oversee and manage Quality Control Inspections in real time, regardless of where factories, product lots, or distribution points are located. QM conducts multiple inspection types, including factories, products, and social compliance, powered by SAP cloud data.

I’ve written before regarding the huge gains reaped by progressive businesses in the digital space. The race is on, but where should you start? What aspect of the business should come first? Sales? Customer Service? Logistics? Procurement? Planning? Production? More importantly, how can business leaders prioritize their company’s improvement in the digital space?

Evaluation Criteria

Obviously, companies should select the most relevant and useful “digital solution” that creates the most value and/or best addresses gaps in productivity or performance, but this isn’t always clearly indicated. I have gathered 5 criteria that any “digital solution” should be evaluated against in order to aid you in establishing the priority of what needs to be done:

1. Business Case

Every idea on the table for implementation should have a well-developed business case – a justification for the proposed project or undertaking on the basis of its expected commercial benefit – such as the potential boost in sales and decrease in costs or inventory, for example. Prioritize the opportunities that seem the most realistic, relevant, and financially rewarding.

2. Pain Points Addressed

Describe and list every pain point that each solution will address. Evaluate the respective pain points from both a quantitative and qualitative perspective.

3. Technological Feasibility

Assess the economic competitiveness of all of your proposed tech solutions by evaluating their implementation costs for improving a process, as compared to the costs incurred by the current technology.

4. Ease of Implementation

Some ideas may have potential to make a significant improvement to your business, however there may be associated roadblocks and hindrances, such as significant capital investment, or approval requirements from a board or external parties. In cases like this, the improvement cycle may be delayed, or the spirit of the implementers broken as the improvement activity becomes too difficult to implement. Likewise, if there are improvement opportunities which are easy to implement but don’t really make a difference, then team members may see the process as not providing much benefit, and once again could lose interest in the process.

5. Time to Impact

Some solutions have significant impact on your business as soon as the “flip is switched” – such as mobile productivity apps and cloud-based repositories. Other solutions may require a significant ramp-up time before their impact on your business is tangible. For example, certain Machine Learning algorithms require a considerable dataset in place before they become effective. It’s important to take this into consideration when evaluating your solution.

If you take the time to thoroughly evaluate all of your organization’s ideas and technology solutions across the same spectrum of criteria, you will find that prioritizing what needs to be done becomes much less of a headache. You will also reap other benefits as well, such as having the ammunition at hand to wrangle consensus from your organization’s key stakeholders on what the next best digital step will be. Good luck!

By Michael Davison

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