December – Digital @ Scale

This new book by Anand Swaminathan and Dr. Jurgen Meffert struck a real bell with me. Zucker Systems continuous to analyze the process and organization of planning and related departments throughout the United States. We normally complete four or five studies each year which has resulted in over 170 cities and counties in 33 states. Each contract, I am amazed to discover how slow most planning departments are about making the transition to the digital age. One of our current clients asked us to take a look across the U.S. to find the best in class or Best Practices. What we found is that most places are talking a good game, but few are performing. Even those who have purchased a multi-million-dollar permit system have yet to fully transform to Internet plan submittals and electronic plan check. Although we have not surveyed the use of social media in planning and development, we believe we will find the same slow trend of arriving at the digital age.

The authors suggest:

  • Everybody talks about digital. But few talk about scaling a full-blown transformation and what it takes. This is no longer about how to quickly grab the attention of the customer or clean up the back office. Organizations need to unlock the full value of digital to reap its true benefits. Companies (including government – my addition) need to rethink their entire business models. The entire ecosystem of the company is affected, including employees, customers, suppliers, and partners. Digitization thus changes structures, processes, and IT as well as the people who live and work in this new reality.
  • Customer behavior had dramatically changed in recent years. Consumers want everything, anywhere, anytime: In 2016, 83 percent of consumers possessed a smartphone. Speed is the hallmark of the digital world.
  • To switch your business to digital, three fundamentals are needed: (1) recruit a team that’s as enthusiastic as it is technically proficient and (2) that values speed above perfection, and (3) introduce milestone-based project management. The new culture may include flexible working hours, an office landscape in which teams feel at ease, and technical equipment that is not only up to the task, but is fun to use.

How are you or your city or county doing? Please share your stories with me and our readers.

The Management Doctor