Pilot programs are a proven and effective way to minimize the risk of failures and maximize the benefits delivered by digitization initiatives.
Here are six common ways that your colleagues are using pilot programs to ensure success when going digital:
1. Proving the business case
From the outset of your pilot, look for quantifiable gains and success stories that you can use to secure a full roll-out of your digitization program in each of the following areas:
- Financial: How much money will improved space utilization save the department in terms of office space leasing, maintenance and taxes over the next year? The next five years?
- Operational: How does faster information access improve key performance indicators such as time to market, cost of sale or customer satisfaction?
- Compliance: How does the new solution help the organization meet its statutory, regulatory and audit requirements? What feedback is available from auditors on relevant information management controls or production of evidence?
2. Stress-testing your RIM program fundamentals
A pilot provides a real world test of how well records management tools respond to current business processes and twenty-first century information capture. A pilot will help you assess and adjust key program elements such as records classification schema, retention schedules and indexing systems.
Here are some things to look for:
- Can records classification structures be readily mapped to participants’ business functions and activities?
- Are the key document and data types used in the pilot clearly identifiable in the existing classification scheme?
- Do indexing metadata, file naming conventions and other information retrieval elements meet daily needs for locating and accessing records?
- Are retention periods reasonable enough to minimize the risks associated with retaining records too long?
3. Evaluating the technologies
One of the main objectives of any digital evolution pilot is to assess how well different components support real world capture, retention and use of records by everyday users.
A well-designed pilot program should be able to answer the following:
- Are scanners and other hardware devices able to capture all the required records?
- Are authentication features sufficient to meet the expectations of authorities?
- Can the electronic repository accommodate all required file formats?
- Are metadata and full-text search available to locate and retrieve information?
- Can system and document backups be brought online reliably in a disaster recovery business continuity testing?
4. Fine-tuning the process
The pilot provides an opportunity to observe, review and test manual work processes to identify opportunities to streamline or otherwise fix those processes. For example:
- Are any steps consistently slowing down the process? Can they be reengineered or broken out into multiple smaller steps?
- Do any procedures or tasks have a higher than acceptable rate of error?
- Are any tasks too burdensome for the staff performing them?
- Are the tasks appropriate to the knowledge level of the workers?
- Do any controls appear redundant or unnecessary?
5. Evaluating other critical resources
A pilot program helps you check your initial resource estimates and allocations against a small subset of records or data.
Here are some of the resources which can be examined during your pilot:
- technical developers for software configuration and customization, hardware setup and other system implementation tasks
- clerical staffing to support upfront processes
- network bandwidth
- server storage space, including archive and backup
- departmental subject matter experts to provide input on business functions, record collections and usage patterns
- storage space and destruction services
6. Change management
Another benefit of the pilot is that it begins the change management process and socializes the digital transformation to key stakeholders. As the kinks are ironed out and participants begin to experience the program benefits, management and staff can act as powerful allies and champions in a wider roll-out of the pilot.