Realising a true digital working environment

Another research area we at YNNO are interested in is identifying the critical success factors for realizing and embedding a successful true digital working environment within an organization.

The research focuses on organizations that are knowledge intensive, with mainly unstructured processes, with high specific information exchanges and a workforce for the most part existing of knowledge workers.

For the last couple of years projects have been started within these organizations with the ambition tot transform the status quo of the unstructured and unregulated digital work (working on fileshares and sharing documents through “anarchy digital communication channels” like e-mail) into a true digital working environment:

  • using regulated repositories for information storage en retrieval
  • incorporating and digitizing the (incoming, internal and outgoing) paper information streams,
  • and transferring information and decision processes through predefined, but flexible, workflows

Alas, the track record of these digitization projects isn’t anything to write home about. Many have failed, or have delivered suboptimal successes. In our opinion this past performance is mainly due to the fact that during the course of the project too many pillars on which the digital working environment must rest, have crumbled.

We at YNNO manage, consult and operate succesfully in this field and for these type of organizations. Our experience is that there are key factors to identify which are critical for achieving the desired results. The research we are conducting has the ambition to:

  • clarify and make explicit these main pillars on which a digitization project must rest and, more importantly,
  • our main belief of how these pillars must be designed, build and maintained to be able to realize and embed a successful digital working environment for the portrayed type of organization.

YNNO consultants use these pillars and main beliefs individually from experience and gained tacit knowledge. An example thereof: the metadata structures (pillar) used in the organization, embedded within the ECM application (main belief):

  1. must serve the archival regulations for structuring and maintaining information,
  2. must be effectively and efficiently updated trough optimalization and maintenance processes
  3. but may not in any way “cripple” the day to day business processes of the organization.

This accumulation forms a nice paradox which has to be balanced during the entire project. The daily practice, unfortunately, is al to frequently a shift in to one specific direction: archival, business or IT. If it does, the pillar is made of the “wrong cement” and will not last long enough for the digital environment to “flourish” within the organization. The more pillars crumble, the higher the change the aspired goals will not be met.

In the current state, the total overview of the pillars and used main beliefs only exist within the separate minds of the YNNO consultants operating in the field (or operating near to it). The goal of the research is to bring these minds together and to extract and build an explicit framework from these available cumulative tacit knowledge and experiences.

This framework will (of course) never replace the tacit knowledge present within YNNO, this is not the aspiration of the research. The aim is to built a strong tool, a common paradigm and vocabulary for YNNO to speak from, to communicate about, to fall back on and to have readily available for the projects at hand.

During my research activities I’ll post my findings within our YNNO blog.

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