Center of Excellence Made Easy

In this post, Scott Os of Synaptix Group will follow-up his recent post on what is a Center of Excellence (CoE), with information on how to establish and staff the CoE, providing you with supporting PDFs to get the process kicked off right.

Let’s say you’ve read about the importance of a Center of Excellence. On the road to your Digital Transformation, you’re now wondering, “what do I do now?” There are many things to consider, the various roles, responsibilities, and use cases that need to be defined, software and personnel costs that need to be reined in and stakeholders that need to be informed.

But where do you even begin?

That’s the premise of this post. I’ll talk about the structure, roles and responsibilities of a newly formed CoE as it relates to your company’s progress through a DTM Maturity Model, with suggestions on a path for how you can, not only create such an organization, but create the foundation to accelerate change while taking full advantage of your company’s Digital Transformation software investments.

General Guidelines

A CoE can be a service organization that provides expertise across projects in a ‘shared services model’. The function of the CoE is to drive standardization of quality products, architecture and governance policies, as well as processes across the enterprise. Leveraging a centralized management and automation platform for processes, consulting, and support services, as well as delivering leadership and advocacy to help the organization improve business outcomes.

The true value of the CoE will be around participation and the broader strategic efforts within the company. To accomplish this, the CoE needs to have strong alignment on business goals/strategy and the CoE mission. Additionally, the CoE must focus spending on the future of the organization, not just on the “squeakiest wheel.”

CoE Roles & Responsibilities

A component of the CoE charter describes the interaction of the CoE and the Steering Committee. CoE Leadership will be driven by Strategic Business Initiatives approved by the Steering Committee, and will either implement the strategic elements, or work with Project Managers & Architects to implement the policies, procedures, best practices at a more tactical level.

The CoE would be staffed with people who bring domain expertise about the business and technology. These should be from the population who run the day to day operation of your company and who are directly affected by the changes to any systems or processes. They are the people who know how changes will affect staff and what value they could deliver.

Keep in mind, this team will create a standard methodology and best practices to bring consistency and leverage to development projects. In other words, what’s learned from the initial implementations will set the precedent on what mistakes to avoid and how to accelerate adoption and change within your organization.

This added experience is the gem for creating a CoE: by creating the lessons learned and best practices, you’ll reduce the chances of wasted effort and investments in software and personnel.

In the larger context of the company’s continued Digital Transformation on the path to higher DTM Maturity, throughout the execution of the plans put in play by the CoE, the organization is creating reusable assets and a playbook that would be leveraged in the future by other departments and project teams.

Does all of this sound too big to take on?

Fret not! One of the key advantages of the CoE is that it can initially be built on a small scale, with minimal incremental expenditure. As its value is delivered to management, the staff, and individual project teams, it can iteratively evolve and scale up its resources, services, and capabilities. The CoE model can also be a critical asset for distributed organizations, providing centralized processes, infrastructure, and reporting.

Roles and responsibilities will vary depending on CoE structure and budget, but you will generally have resources that fall into one of the following four categories:

  1. CoE Leadership
  2. CoE Core Team
  3. Project Team(s)

CoE Leadership

CoE Leadership typically consists of the following:

  1. Executive Sponsor(s)
  2. Champion(s)
  3. CoE Manager

The Leadership team provides the executive support and governance to project teams. Because both are represented in leadership, IT and Business work as partners in project delivery.

CoE Core Team

The CoE Core Team is comprised of the following:

  1. CoE Manager
  2. Program Manager (Optional or could be the CoE Manager)
  3. Enterprise Architect
  4. Solution Architect(s)

This team handles demand and intake from project teams. They are tasked with standardizing the delivery process and performing the value-add services of the CoE. They own and improve best practices and methodology, enable project team members, deliver proofs of concept, and participate in program/project governance.

Project Team

Project Team(s) consist of the following:

  1. Project Manager
  2. System Architect(s)
  3. Business Architect(s)
  4. SMEs
  5. QA/test

Project Team(s) manage and drive the project on the ground. They are responsible for the day to day deliverables and scope and delivery project outcomes according to the best practices and methodology determined by the CoE.

One of the most effective tools that should be employed while constructing the CoE is a responsibility assignment matrix or RACI chart. This is a very useful tool during the formation phase to make certain all is covered and also during the operating phase to make sure nothing “falls through the cracks.”

Here’s a problem our customers face often. They buy DocuSign and know they can use it to streamline their document-based processes, like a self-storage occupancy agreement. But, they’re not getting much use of it since it means teaching their staff to learn a whole new tool, with its own interface, lingo, and process quirks, namely DocuSign.

Most customers prefer to have a simple HTML form on their Intranet, already used by their staff, to collect name, email and some relevant info about a customer, have it populate in a DocuSign form and send it out for signing. And they want it to seem as though it’s coming from their staff, not just some random “System” name.

So, how do you get the value of your dollars spent on DocuSign AND ensure your customers get emails from their trusted reps, all while reducing or even eliminating any training material or time?

You work around what DocuSign provides!

We like using DocuSign PowerForms for these scenarios, but not just in the way DocuSign designed it. DocuSign PowerForms are web addresses that you can generate to associate with a Template you’ve created. The “Power” in PowerForms is the ability to use a standard web form to collect data and then send it to DocuSign via the web address to populate that form and send it out for signing. There’s no need for anyone to log into DocuSign to send out the form or to do a double entry of the data in your CRM / Intranet, then DocuSign.

So, what’s the catch?

PowerForms are associated with a single “Owner”. That means, the emails sent to your customers will always seem to come from the same person. May be that works for you, but for most of our customers, they want to not only have the email appear to come from their staff, they also want that person notified once the documents are all signed.

How do you get around this?

Well, you can write a fully custom integration and have your solution-cost jump by at least 10 to 100 times!

I assume you don’t like that idea.

Assuming you have a handful of Templates (different types of forms) that don’t change very often, and that you have a manageable number of staff for whom you’ve paid to use DocuSign, you can create the same form as a Template and PowerForm owned by each of your staff members as a user in DocuSign.

That means each of the PowerForms has a separate web address and, based on who has logged into your Intranet, the page can decide which PowerForm to pass the data into. In other words, you can setup a simple Intranet web page where your staff already logs in, where they’ll enter the data for each customer, may be even have it populate your backend database or CRM, then pass it into each rep’s custom web address (DocuSign form) to send out for signing.

This adds a bit of logic and very light programming on your Intranet, but you’re likely already tracking that information there and now just have to pass it into DocuSign.

All of this, without a single view of DocuSign Sending web app…and without expending any training time or dollars.

That’s it.

If you want to learn more about the details of how to do this, hit up one of our staff to give you the full breakdown!

Happy automating!

DocuSign & Adobe Sign’s Calculated Fields are Good for Much More than Just Calculations

How do you build a simple tool to both allow custom pricing calculations and contract signing on an eSignature platform? You use the DocuSign Calculated Fields or the Adobe Sign Calculated Fields, of course!

That’s the straight use of these fields, but they also open up other uses / options on either platform.

How are Calculated Fields Typically Used

A good simple use case example of calculated fields came up in one of our recent solutions where our customer wanted to allow their clients to get immediate pricing as part of an office cleaning and janitorial service quoting/contract signing solution.

The client would initiate the request directly on our customer’s site by selecting the types of services they needed, fill out their business / personal info and submit. The data is immediately sent to DocuSign and the web page redirected to that platform to review and sign the contract. The customer could change the square footage ranges from a dropdown list and, in the process, see an updated quote on pricing, all with different discounts being displayed for various sized spaces and different services. Once they signed, it was no longer a quote, but a new contract. Voila!

This is what’s often referred to as a Configure Price Quote (CPQ) solution, albeit this is a much simplified version of it.

None of that is new, though most folks are unaware of this cool control on the DocuSign and Adobe Sign platforms.

How are Calculated Fields Different

Calculated Fields on DocuSign provide the ability to dynamically conduct arithmetic calculations on data fields during an agreement signing. These calculations can be for numbers or dates, such as setting an effective date for a contract based on the date an agreement is signed. Adobe Sign additionally provides the ability to concatenate text to create suggestions of text or terms.

DocuSign’s Calculated Fields assume number calculations and, as a result, all data presented is right aligned. You can format the data to have 0 or 2 decimal places. Additionally, you can perform some data operations with predefined functions such as to obtain date differences.

Adobe Sign fields have more flexibility by allowing various date / number formatting and manipulations. As a result, you can manipulate data presentation for numbers and text, as well as the types of calculations that can be performed such as getting the minimum value from a set of fields, or rounding up/down of calculated value.

What are Some Unique Uses of Calculated Fields

So, you may be asking, “Ok, wise guy! What’s the not-so-typical use of calculated fields?”

Good question. I’m glad you asked! ?

Calculated Fields do very well in allowing your customers and document singers to dynamically change values to see immediate result during their signing, sure! In the process, the round-trips, requesting revisions based on specific customer needs, is reduced or eliminated, and your Time To Close or Time Value of Money metrics improve.

On the other hand, many integrated solutions and robust Contract Management System like Conga in conjunction with Salesforce, or custom applications, provide for uses cases that are simple to complex for presentation and even customer manipulation of the data before sending any of the information for signing to an eSignature platform.

Does that mean Calculated Fields have no use?

Actually, they have a hidden and an important value! Given the formatting options they provide, especially for numbered values, where it’s imperative the data is right aligned or localized (such as with date presentation differences between US vs. Europe or South America), they are a perfect solution.

All calculations and CPQ manipulations by sales staff or even customers can still be conducted on a system better designed for that purpose, then properly presented for final execution on the eSign platform.

Bottom line is that whether you wish to use Adobe Sign or DocuSign’s Calculated Fields to allow your customers to manipulate their custom quotes directly on those platforms, or you wish to incorporate at least the formatting of these fields in conjunction with your existing CPQ or other quoting applications, Calculated Fields deserve a serious consideration for data manipulations on your eSignature platform of choice.

Happy calculating!

In this post, we’ve invited Scott Os of Synaptix Group to explore and explain what is a Center of Excellence, the needs it serves to help move you along the maturity model, and why it’s a key success factor for your Digital Transformation. Scott is the Founder and President of The Synaptix Group and draws on over 30 years of senior level experience managing the design, development, and implementation of document based solutions, with a particular focus on Enterprise deployments in public and private sector.

In a recent ValTeo blog, the DTM Maturity Model outlined the stages an organization traverses as it rethinks many of its customer interactions and internal transactions that revolve around paper-based processes.

As companies move from the nascent to the pivoted stage, there is a recognition that change is needed. This recognition may result from shrinking profits and/or the introduction of external threats, forcing the organization to rethink its legacy processes. It is typically at this time that a single individual or group of individuals emerge that are the thought leaders on how to evolve the company in order to handle this change. It is at this time that the concept of a Center of Excellence (CoE) begins to take form, though it may not be called that. During this stage, the early planning is done to prepare for how to structure and staff a CoE.

However, it is really once an organization moves from pivoted into the accelerated stage that the CoE typically begins to emerge as a force for change in many ways. This is done with an eye toward shared technologies, skills, training and knowledge transfer. The CoE is also tasked with documenting the process to assess new use cases, determine their priority and develop timelines

Whether the 4 levels of enterprise digital maturity are referred to as nascent, pivoted, accelerated, and optimized (as in the Valteo Tech’s DTM Maturity Model) or an enterprise level of maturity is characterized by the 6 levels defined by Forrester (Continue as Usual, Test and Learn, Systemize and Strategize, Adapt or Die, Transformed and Transforming, Innovate or Die), or the terms for the waypoints along the journey map to potential, formation, building/evolving, operationalized, and adaptive as in the business process management maturity model, what we have found across dozens of company experiences is that there is a consistent theme:

In order to move your organization along the maturity road, you must adopt a consistent, standardized approach to your digital transformation.

Why Have a Center of Excellence?

A recent Forrester study on business process improvement, coupled with our experience with companies of all sizes and government agencies, demonstrates that building a CoE significantly enhances the ability of an organization to meet or exceed the goals that center supports.

Source: Forrester Research, Inc. US and UK Enterprise Architecture and Business Process Management Online Survey

The key data from the above graphic is that 67 percent of respondents who were successful in bringing about change in their organizations had formal CoEs. Among those reporting failures, only 14 percent had such centers in place.

When governance, a support structure, guidance, metrics & measurements, along with shared learning exists across an organization, success is far more likely. Per above data, it’s almost 4 times more likely. Such successes support organizational, program, and specific project goals that are best aligned with company long-term strategy and bear measurable results based on agreed-upon company metrics. In fact, this level of organization and success acceleration is one of the key indicators of that organization’s achievement of the Accelerated Maturity level on the VTT model.

So, why a CoE?

  • Maximize Project Team Success
  • Reduce project risk
    • CheckpointsBest practices
  • Recognize ROI quickly
  • Maximize efficiency through reuse
  • Reference architecture for ease of maintenance
  • Harmonize Business and IT
    • Transformational role in automating processes

What is a Center of Excellence?

A center of excellence (CoE) is a team that provides leadership, best practices, support, training, and collaboration for a focus area to drive business or customer-valued results. At its core, a CoE is a governance model for guiding and managing a program across an organization.

The CoE provides visibility within the company about the idea of digital transformation, and helps the idea catch on in organizations that might otherwise be resistant to change. It is recognized as being a building block for realizing the wide-scale potential and value of digital transaction management solutions.

In order for a digital transformation to be successful, any adoption plans must address cultural, technological, and organizational elements. These are analogous to the main tenets in enterprise architecture, people, process and technology. The key takeaway here is that the concept of CoE presumes change is hard and will encounter resistance. To that end, any structure or activity defined in implementing and executing plans for a CoE is aimed to reduce the friction that often exists with the introduction of any process or technology.

How do you Implement a Center of Excellence

The great thing about a CoE is that there is more than one way to implement it effectively. We’ve seen many different successful CoE implementations over the years and what’s important is understanding how your own organization operates to build a CoE that will work well in that environment.

One of the key advantages of the CoE is that it can initially be built on a small scale, with minimal incremental expenditure starting with companies that are at the Pivoted stage of the VTT DTM Maturity Model. As its value is delivered to management, staff, and individual project teams, it can iteratively evolve and scale up its resources, services, and capabilities. The CoE model can also be a critical asset for distributed organizations, providing centralized processes, infrastructure, and reporting. This distributed model is indicative of organizations experiencing the Accelerated and Optimized level of maturity.

In our experience, all CoEs should serve the following basic needs:

  • Authority: Knowing what the CoE is responsible for and what decisions it can make is the most important element here. At one end of the spectrum, the CoE can be purely advisory. At the other end, it can be responsible for some tasks and have the power to dictate what other groups can and cannot do. The best approach depends a great deal on company culture.
  • Management: Allocating limited resources (money, people, etc.) across all their possible use is an important function of CoEs. They should ensure organizations invest in the most valuable projects and create economies of scale for their service offering. In addition, coordination across other corporate interests is needed to enable the CoE to deliver value.
  • Guidance: Standards, methodologies, tools and knowledge repositories are typical approaches to filling this need.
  • (Shared) Learning: Training and certifications, skill assessments, team building and formalized roles are all ways to encourage shared learning.
  • Measurements: CoEs makes it easier to measure the value delivered by DocuSign across the organization by centralizing and standardizing the top business metrics.
  • Support: For their area of focus, CoE’s should offer support to the business lines. This may be through services needed, or providing subject matter experts.

What Levels of CoE Exist at Each VTT DTM Maturity Stage?

The Nascent stage usually exists before organizations begin to recognize the need for CoE’s. Capabilities may initially live in functional organizations or with individuals. In the earliest stages, organizations may perhaps establish a steering committee or create initial pilot projects to begin to identify and focus skills in an organization.

Organizations begin to move to a Pivoted stage when they start viewing CoEs as an asset for project teams. With this project-centric view, they know that teams need support and are looking for a home for the deeper skills they require. Identify leaders for the CoE and other resources with the skills needed for the roles given above. CoE leadership begins to coordinate across projects, train and mentor others, help plan and set scope, and monitor the capabilities they were responsible for building.

To move to the Accelerated stage, they begin to define and document the standards and practices for their competency. By this stage, a team charter should define the center. Team members should capture best practices in a wiki or similar format and begin to more actively manage associated risk and quality. Training and reference best practices should be standardized and help to actively communicate the competencies across the organization. Many of these efforts are aimed to build a playbook or template of how the CoE should be implemented company-wide or deployed for a distributed / matrixed organizational structure.

Making the leap to the next higher level, Optimized, requires strong coordination and, therefore, strong commitment across executive levels. CoE sponsors and leaders should coach executive leadership so that organizations can gain this commitment to begin to build managed, strategic CoEs. The focus becomes across an organization with clear support for corporate plans, integrated with corporate scorecards, and an actively managed portfolio of initiatives that use their service. The true power of CoE’s begins to be unleashed as more formal career paths are created, where development and mentoring become available for the competencies the CoE supports.

In future installments, we’ll explore the structure, roles and tools a successful CoE typically employ.

Often, in the process of developing automation on the DocuSign platform, we recommend that our customers use a DocuSign Template, even in scenarios when the API will be used to integrate with DocuSign.

However, there are a few caveats about DocuSign Templates that you should be aware of. These caveats are sometimes not very well understood or even addressed purely through the use of the DocuSign features. In our post today we cover how our staff uses particular methods to address these caveats and gotchas.

If you’re unfamiliar with DocuSign Templates, you should know they are a great means of streamlining repetitive steps or set of documents where you need to collect data or signatures. Using them, you can define all of the roles and workflow for the various people who will need to review, sign, or provide data on your forms, as well as the locations on the form where they need to perform these actions. Think of DocuSign Templates as a home blueprint that can be used again and again to build the same house for different people. This is why we have our own slogan for DocuSign Templates: The Track-Housing Process for Form Automation!

All joking aside, DocuSign Templates work especially well for standard forms like new client questionnaires. The challenge arises if your documents are somewhat dynamic, where the content may change, resulting in change in pagination or location of where your clients need to sign or fill out the form. A great example of this is a new sales contracts or loan applications that may have different disclosures or content depending on the property being purchased or the number of people involved.

DocuSign has a solution for this as well, referred to as Anchor Tags and their associated Anchor Text. This is how DocuSign explains this feature:

Anchor text is a feature that allows text to be used in documents as a placeholder for signature, initial and other tags.

As a best practice, DocuSign recommends creating unique text in your documents with the text color the same as the background so that these texts are machine searchable, but not visible to the human eye.

This works great for scenarios where you have control over the underlying form. You can add unique text for each field. For example, for a signature, you can use “*sig1*\”. In other words, in your underlying document, you place this white text on white background where you’d like to auto-place signature tags for your first signer. Given the use of backward slash and asterisk, combined with the text “sig1”, you’ve created a unique text that, most likely, won’t appear anywhere else in your document. What’s more, you can standardize on this text and combine it with standard signature or form blocks to use throughout all of your forms, allowing for easier future edits.

There’s a big catch, though!

The problem arises when you don’t have control of the underlying document. “When does THAT happen?” you ask. Well, in the example of a Loan Application above, often you’re dealing with forms that are provided to you by a government agency or regulatory body where changes to the underlying document are not possible or are forbidden, Even when such changes are possible, they often require a long review cycle to implement.

Aside from regulatory-required documents, you may also deal with forms provided to you by a partner or a customer on a regular basis that you’d like to automate. An example of this is in Financial Services and Wealth Management where a Custodian may require particular forms to be filled out for any new Account opened, where Financial Advisors are required to use the Custodian documents along with theirs for any new client.

So, what do you do in these scenarios?

By definition, you certainly can’t modify the underlying document and still be in compliance with regulatory or your partner’s requirements. What makes these scenarios more complex is that often, signature and data field locations may not have existing unique text for each location.

A great example of this is the signature block of the US Department of Treasury Internal Revenue Service’s Request for Transcript of Tax Return, better known as form 4506T. This form doesn’t change much. In fact, there are new releases of this form, at best, on an annual basis. What’s more, not much changes within it.

However, we’ve seen when with some slight text changes on this form, the signature block moves around from a few pixels to a whole new line. This could be a minor inconvenience if this is the only form you have. But if your business is like most, you have tens or hundreds of forms that you have to review and maintain annually. So, such minor changes, made manually on tens or hundreds of forms adds to additional operational cost that you likely are trying to avoid with the use of DocuSign.

In our example of the 4506T form, at first glance, you may think to use the term “Signature” and “Spouse’s Signature” to distinguish the two signer locations for the two different individuals. There are a couple of issues with this. First, the term “Signature” appears in both. It’s not unique. So, if we use “Signature” to find the signature location for the first signer, the system will automatically find both instances of the word and place the first signer’s signature tab on both locations. You certainly don’t want that.

Second, the term “Signature” actually appears eight times in this document, in multiple paragraphs and not as an actual indicator of the signature location! So, you’d end up with eight signature tabs for your first signer, seven of which are in places s/he is not supposed to sign!

How can you solve this?

You have to realize two factors. First, you don’t have to use a different distinct text for each tab. In other words, I can use the same text, but with an offset, for more than one tab. All I would do is use the text I have in mind for the tab during template creation, then nudge it over to where I actually want it placed during sending/signing! The platform remembers this offset and uses it going forward.

Second, I can use unique phrases, not just words. This could even be a whole sentence. What we’ve found is that forms like the 4506T, or others provided by partners, often have a name or unique text in the header or footer that can be used as the anchor string. In the case of the 4506T, the term “For Privacy Act and Paperwork Reduction Act Notice” appears only once at the bottom of the first page. It’s a unique phrase that we can use for ALL fields that we want auto-placed on the form.

Aside from the specific examples, what’re the big takeaways here?

Don’t assume that you have to use different text for each of your fields, and always search for unique phrases, rather than single words.

And here’s the big kicker!

Remember how you could place white text on white background on your own forms? Well, you don’t need to. What we especially like about this solution is that it reduces the initial deployment efforts on existing forms, even if you DO control the formatting and content of those forms. In other words, you don’t need to place any text on the form with the same color as the background. You only need to find the unique phrase that already appears in your existing forms!

By the way, everything described here, can be used when you’re integrating with DocuSign using their API. All instructions on use of Anchor Tabs, offsets, use of unique phrases are available for you to manipulate with inline as well as server side DocuSign Templates.

Voila! Problem solved.

Happy Automation!

Companies and organizations who’ve started their Digital Transformation often wish to bring about change in a controlled environment, gather the results, make any corrections before expanding the process, before applying it organization-wide. This is not only a sound approach, it’s a well understood pattern for ensuring adoption of a solution.

So, what “pattern” am I referring to? What are the steps in an organization’s transition from becoming aware of the need to change, to completely transforming every aspect of the business to be fully digital?

In this post, I’ll outline the ValTeo Digital Transaction Management Maturity Model© that can be used to not only gauge the stage of transformation for your organization, but to plan the next steps and better understand what value a fully digital business holds for you in the future.

This post is part of a series on How to Plan Your Digital Transformation.

What Does the DTM Maturity Model Represent

The Digital Transaction Management (DTM) Maturity Model has been developed by ValTeo Tech to gauge the level of digital transaction automation maturity in an organization, no matter the organization’s size, structure or industry. It’s loosely based on the Digital Transformation Maturity Model by Cognizant’s Brian Solis.

The DTM Maturity Model is both a planning tool and an aspirational roadmap as it points to a future for an organization that we don’t believe yet exists in any company. In fact, it may be that the ideal final stage is one that an organization always strives to attain and never does, but, in the process, makes Digital Transaction Management and, by proxy, Digital Transformation a part of its culture fabric and differentiation strategy.

To demonstrate this point with data, in Forrester’s Predictions 2017: In Digital Transformation, The Hard Work of Operational Excellence Begins, you learn that many organizations that began their Digital Transformation journey early now realize this process is not only about realizing the value in the use of new technologies, but a means to create immersive experiences for their customers and staff to rethink their operational processes. As you can imagine, this is not a single point of metamorphosis, but a continued refinement and redefinition.

By extension, the DTM Maturity Model, as we’ve experienced and defined it, describes the stages an organization traverses as it rethinks many of its customer experience interactions and internal transaction that revolve around paper-based processes.

The diagram below represents the four maturity stages. You’ll notice that the horizontal access defines the timeline of maturity for an organization. However, the vertical axis is left undefined or, at least, not labeled. This is because it can represent a few interchanging variables that may affect the rapidity of earned value, but not its general direction. For example, the vertical axis could be defined as Realized Value, Customer Satisfaction, Efficiency in Use of Resources, or a number of other metrics that an organization uses to measure success and differentiation.

What Does Each Maturity Level Mean

As you read through the definition of these levels, you may think the term “transformation” should apply to the use of a technology that replaces a manual step or an older technology. Our intention for the use of this term goes beyond this. Namely, by “transformation” we mean the use of technology to rethink a process, how people interact as a result of such changes, and the added value that they bring.

An example that often resonates is how the use of smartphones by the general public transformed the methods by which customers wished to, and now do, interact with companies. Smartphones weren’t simply a replacement of functional phones. They weren’t just a better phone, but a device that allowed for significantly different, more meaningful and valuable interaction options. This has lead to complete rethinking of customer support, introduction of new presentation, search and sales process, as well as communication by companies to their customers, employees and other stakeholders.

In this way, our reference to “transformation” or “transformational” then is not just an evolution or transition of a process or ways of doing business from one method or system to another. Transformation is intended to mean a complete metamorphosis that leads to rethinking of how business is done and, in many case, elimination of what’s no longer relevant and introduction of new methods, process or even lines of business.


At this level, an organization has not yet recognized the need for change. Often there is no defined digital strategy and the use of technology, though it may be organized, is not intended nor implemented to be transformational.

Organizations in this stage may still be experiencing growth and are profitable. In essence, they perceive no business problem. So, why solve it. This scenario applies to both organizations that are too young, such as startups in established industries, or established companies where the old way of doing things continues to deliver results. In this latter group, the companies may be risk averse and uninterested in being disruptive.

While companies in this group often implement new technologies like a new CRM, ERP or DTM solution, these implementations are often a (further) digitization of how things were done before. In other words, Nascent companies are not without technology, but they don’t necessarily use it to transform their business and industry.


Companies in this category have recognized the need to change, albeit this may be a recognition by just one visionary leader or individual contributor. The recognition may result from shrinking profits and the introduction of external threats, forcing the organization to rethink its legacy processes.

Though a digital strategy may not yet be defined, it’s begun to take shape as a result of new experiments setup to rethink how business can be done for one use case or department. Such efforts are tactical and departmental, rather than organizational.

The technologies selected are chosen based on specific goals with selected metrics designed to not only measure success but determine whether an implementation was transformative. These initial implementations can be quite cumbersome as they require a whole new method of thinking, change management and knowledge transfer.

Knowledge of the new systems and processes are limited to the departments or groups who are conducting the experiments. Some of the lessons may be documented, but most of them are anecdotal and can be viewed as tribal knowledge. In fact, there’s no defined program or process for assessing new scenarios and candidates for change based on transformation, value-based metrics.

The teams involved often have an understanding of agile process and experiment with how it can be implemented at their organization. At first, such attempts are to combine the legacy Command and Control or central decision making with agile, resulting in what we refer to as Cagile (ka-gyle) process: partly centralized, partly agile with latency in making changes, learning from them, and deciding on new directions. This is a transitionary period and, though not optimal, a necessary step to begin the switch to a fully agile and decentralized decision-making process typically seen in more entrepreneurial / intrapreneurial settings.


Accelerated organizations often have understood the value of a digital transformation using DTM technologies based on limited experiments they’ve completed. Thus they actively develop and incorporate a digital strategy with the larger company growth strategy. What metrics to use to demonstrate successful transformations as well as measures on whether a transformation is even needed are defined and understood.

As a result of multiple experiments, the organization not only understands which transformative technologies to use, but also begins to build a roadmap for fully incorporating and integrating these technologies with other backend systems to reduce any manual transfer of data between such systems. All planning for new process or use cases to undergo transformations also incorporates integration modeling between the various systems.

Given the new company digital strategy, the early adopters and experimenters are tasked with developing a Center of Excellence (CoE) around shared technologies, skills, training and knowledge transfer. The CoE is also tasked with documenting the process to assess new use cases, determine their priority and develop timelines. They act as the central support hub, with specialized roles such as Chief Digital Officer, Digital Evangelist or similar titles leading them.

Agile processes are fully deployed and considered central to instituting a culture of continual improvement that involves deliberate experimenting by developing Minimum Viable Products (MVPs). In this way, MVPs are quickly validated by all stakeholders involved to determine whether the intended value can be realized with the new solution, how it can be corrected, or what changes need to be made to optimize it. Collaboration among teams, departments and regions, then, becomes part of the paradigm shift, though it is something that still requires training by CoE for each new group brought into this new strategic fold.


At the Optimized level, digital strategy has become a part of the cultural fabric of the organization and is lived through every decision. This is evidenced when the digital strategy is not discussed as a separate piece that needs to be incorporated into the annual strategic review and planning, but it is the central aspect of the company strategic plan around which all other initiatives take shape.

Highly specific roles that were previously defined to help focus the organization on the digital transformation efforts are no longer needed. Hence, such titles as Chief Digital Officer or Digital Evangelists are eliminated and, instead, the related skills are incorporated into every individual contributor and leadership position. Training on how to foster such thinking and skills are fully formalized and become not only a part of the hiring process, but also part of their continual education.

The agile process of scientific experimentation is fully adopted by all teams and ingrained into every aspect of business, with small teams formed for both strategic and tactical projects. To that end, the CoE is decentralized and replicated in each region or practice in order to scale adoption of the new processes.

The entrepreneurial spirit of freedom to experiment, fail early, revise and retry is fully employed, including for revisions to the process to manage any transformative change. Everyday meetings and discussions have an inherent focus on how to optimize every aspect of business and measure any efficiency or efficacy based on understood metrics. In turn, the metrics themselves are challenged from time to time to determine whether better measures of success for fine tuning customer experience and process automation should be considered and used.

As you can now understand, this Optimized organization is likely inspirational in the same way that excellence can be achieved, but always leaving room for improvements.

In our future posts we’ll cover how the ValTeo DTM Maturity Model© can be used to better define your DTM transformation plan and, more specifically, which metrics can be used at each stage.

Let’s assume you’ve realized that in order to stay ahead of the competition and help scale your organization, you need to take your company through a Digital Transformation. In other words, you not only want to digitize your communication and transactions with your customers, but you also aim to automate much of the process with the goal of increasing customer satisfaction and gaining a larger market share.

You also know what is Digital Transaction Management (DTM), what role it plays in your organization’s transformation and how it differs from Paperless process initiatives of days past. Now you’re planning the transformation, how you’ll manage the change, and demonstrate success.

But how do you plan for this? What tools do you use to ensure success?

Starting with this post, we’ll begin to cover how you can bring about this change starting with building a Business Acceleration Adoption Plan (BAAP), the combined technology and change management plan, and how to execute on it. Here are the steps at a high level:

  1. What Success Metrics to Select
  2. How to Determine Your Organization’s DTM Maturity Index
  3. How to Use the DTM Maturity Index to Define Your Plan
  4. How to Prioritize Your Use Cases
  5. How to Deploy Your Solutions to Ensure Success
  6. Why Iterate & How to Refine Your Deployments

Today, we’ll take up the first of these topics, the metrics to use. Before that though, we first need to answer why you should build out a plan to begin with.

Why Build a Plan

It may be a foregone conclusion for some that you should build a plan for deploying any solution that changes your business processes, but the plan I’m referring to is not just another project plan. This isn’t a plan with a Work Breakdown Structure, in Project Management parlance, or a Product Backlog, borrowing from SCRUM Agile processes. Taking a step higher, this isn’t a Project Charter either.

What I’m referring to as a plan is something quite utilitarian and down to the brass tacks of data you’ll use to crystalize what goals you want to accomplish by pursuing the business process changes, why it’s important to make the change, what are the areas or use cases you’ll improve, which of those areas are of highest priority, and what business gains you’ll get from making the changes.

The intent is to develop something that you’ll continuously use to monitor success and correct, where necessary.

So, why is this important?

Far too often, we set out to change processes in our organization with little to no real results, aside from showing that we changed something. Is it enough that we no longer print paper? Not unless we demonstrate that the paper reduction cut company costs by $1M annually, which, in turn, allowed us to fund more research and development for our new products.

Is it enough that we can now track who made what changes when or when they signed an agreement? Not unless we can demonstrate that our sales staff previously closed 10 deals a month because each deal took that long to get approvals on the terms and conditions, but after only a short week-long training on the new processes and systems, they’re able to close 15 deals a month , a 50% increase in sales volume delivered “overnight”!

In general, what we’ve learned is that often the lack of success on various business process changes is associated with a lack of direction on how to prepare and promote such changes benefiting the workforce and customers. That means, we have to not only define what we’ll change, but also how we’ll prepare everyone for the changes ahead.

Then, after we make the change, we can always come back and see whether we were successful and, where we weren’t fully, we can then assess why and incorporate the lessons on better measurements, better maneuvering of the politics, better training, or any other steps to improve adoption and change management into the next set of use cases we wish to tackle.

So, why make a plan?

Because you need to know what would define success, how you can get there, whether you achieved it, and how you’ll apply the lessons to future changes.

What Success Metrics to Select

The selection of success metrics is completely dependent on what the business believes are of highest priority and value at any point in the company’s growth. Do you wish to reduce company expenditures to use funds for other purposes, or to increase profitability? Are you having trouble scaling your sales process and need to automate and better track their mundane activities? Is your customer satisfaction suffering, thus leading to losing sales and reducing your company valuation?

Here are some common metrics to consider:

1. Turn-Around Time (TAT) or Time To Close (TtC)

Turn-Around Time is, quite simply, how long it takes to complete something. It’s a phrase borrowed from computing, but can be applied to many activities. For example, how long does it take to create a new contract, send it out for review by a customer, capture corrections, make revisions, get approvals and signatures?

Your goal may be to reduce a TAT of 30 days on sales contracts by 75%. Why is this important?

It’s because the axiom of Time Value of Money tells us money has value today than the same amount in the future, given money can earn interest or it can be used for other projects or activities of value to a business.

Let’s demonstrate the importance of this measure with an example. Let’s say that our company has 5 sales staff. They close an average of 5 deals each month with an Average Deal Size (ADS) of $100k. Each deal takes about 30 days to close from the time the customer decides to buy to when we have a signed contract. That means we have an annual sales booking of $30M.

Now, with our new systems and automated processes rolled out that cost us $25k, we’re able to reduce our TAT from 30 days to 8 days. That’s a saving of 22 days. How much more value does that equate to?

Let’s calculate our Present Value of each contract. Assuming an average of 3% inflation, for the 30-day closing period under our legacy process, we get a present value of $99,754 for a $100k deal. Once we reduce our TAT from 30-days down to 8 days, we get a present value of $99,934 per deal, equal to a net gain of $180 per deal. Across the sales staff, that’s an increase in annual value of $54k or about half of a head count.

So, TAT may be a good measure.

2. Return on Investment (ROI)

What about ROI, one of management’s favorite measures of profitability? This could certainly be a part of the metrics to track, especially if we’re talking about cost savings in a process.

In our previous example, let’s add the note that our new digital process also equates to an average reduction in printing and overnight FedEx package savings of $28.94 per transaction. We now have an annual paper and printing cost savings of $8,682 with our new process. Coupled with our value gain of $54k earlier, that’s a total value gain of $62,682.

Purely looking at a single year’s return, we have an ROI of 151%. If we use the traditional calculation of technologies having a 3-year lifecycle, that’s a 452% ROI over 3 years.

ROI is certainly a good metric so long as we can measure and attribute the benefits gained as part of the new solution rollout.

3. Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) or Net Promoter Score (NPS)

All of the above have been the tangible metrics for a solution. But what about how satisfied are your customers? How much is that worth?

Even though the value here is a bit tougher to calculate, most folks inherently understand how satisfied customers have a multiplier effect in the market by not only increasing the odds of that customer providing with repeat business, but also for acting as a reference as well as recommending your products or services. The intangible aspects of customer satisfaction are what affect your company reputation and its valuation.

What we typically see are goals to increase CSI by 10 to 20% points or to turn an acceptable NPS Of 10 or 20 to a 60 or 70. These are significant gains when you consider companies such as Apple are notorious for having NPS of mid 70’s.
So, which metric should you use? The answer may very well be more than one if not all of the above. As you can see, they work hand-in-hand and can have significant consequences on one another, as well as your bottom line.

What’s more, there are other tangential metrics that may be of interest. What should be the new ADS goal? Given it’s easier to do business with you, will the sales staff be able to negotiate higher prices or offer more products and services that increase your ADS?

What should be your new total sales volume since your sales staff can now close faster? After all, it used to take 30 days to close each deal, giving each sales rep a velocity of 5 deals per month. Can they now double that amount? It depends whether the previous process had an affect on the volume. If nothing else, it may mean that they will have more time for prospecting. In that case, what should be the new number of open deals per sales rep, their pipeline value, or their win rate?

The importance to grasp here is that no matter which metric you choose, you should choose something that you can measure, baseline and aim to improve with direct calculations of what benefits the whole organization gains once your solution is fully deployed.

Stay tuned as we continue with our posts on how to build and execute on your Business Acceleration Adoption Plan.

I recently received a very simple and good question from a customer, “What’s the difference between the Paperless Office and Digital Transaction Management? Aren’t they both about using digital for paper-based document or processes?” In fact, there’s a distinct and important set of differences, though it could be somewhat subtle.

Let’s start with some definitions. Wikipedia defines Digital Transaction Management as follows:

Digital Transaction Management (DTM) is a category of cloud services designed to digitally manage document-based transactions […that] goes beyond content and document management to include e-signatures, authentication and nonrepudiation; document transfer and certification; secure archiving that goes beyond records management; and a variety of meta-processes around managing electronic transactions and the documents associated with them.

It’s worth noting, this appears very similar to the Wikipedia-provided definition of a Paperless Office:

A paperless office is a work environment in which the use of paper is eliminated or greatly reduced. This is done by converting documents and other papers into digital form.

How DTM and Paperless Are Similar

Aside from the obvious observation that DTM has a longer definition, it may still appear that both are describing the same concept: using digital media in place of paper, right?


In fact, Digital Transaction Management does encompass going digital with all documents, but the focus is on elements of the process that go far beyond just digitizing paper. Before taking apart the distinctions to fully grasp the differences, let’s see what else they have in common.

DTM platforms are cloud or SaaS-based (Software as a service) solutions. This could encompass everything from email (G Suite, Office 365) to document management and collaboration tools (box, GDrive, OneDrive). To this end, both DTM and the Paperless Office using modern SaaS services can fit under the same definition.

How They Are Different

The key distinction appears in the latter half definition of DTM. Namely, the inclusion of eSignatures, Authentication, Nonrepudiation, as well as Document Transfer, Certification, and Secure Archiving differentiates DTM.

ESignature, distinct from a digital signature, is a means of using a mark and supporting data to depict a physical signature.

Authentication, in the context of DTM, is a method, process or technology used to validate that a person should have access to the provided document or process. Nonrepudiation is a legal term signifying that an individual can not deny their eSignature or sent message / document. Both Authentication and Nonrepudiation are key elements that work hand-in-hand to ensure the security of the whole transaction. However, in and of themselves, they would simply be referring to authentication services that many platforms provide for allowing access to particular individuals with the right credentials.

Document Transfer refers to the ability to know how documents are not only accessed by various participants in a process, but also that they can easily and legally change hands. This is especially important in scenarios where a document can act as chattel and have inherent value. A great example of this is a loan document that can be sold by a lending institution to a loan servicing company. In such scenarios, who owns the electronic “original” copy of documents, what was the chain of custody as it was transferred from one owner to another, the audit trail associated with such transfers, becomes quite important for a DTM system.

The Certification requirement is interesting as it refers to a few factors that tie back into Security. Certification is a reference to compliance with particular standards, such as ISO27001, that ensure customer data visibility is limited to and owned by the customer, as well that the data and documents are encrypted and securely stored where such data or documents storage, even if compromised, would not reveal their content.

Lastly, Secure Archiving is a means of storage and retrieval of electronic documents that allows for ease of finding and tracking the intended document using meta data (who signed what, what was in the documents, who provided which data, etc.) as well as all associated historical and certification data intact.

An Example

An example may help clarify the distinction between DTM and other paperless process or systems.

Let’s take a sales contract where you use to store your customer data, including what they purchased, then utilize Conga for document generation to create your sales contract in a Microsoft Word format and send via an email to your customer’s known corporate email address which uses email encryption. Your customer then types in their purchase order number in Word. For the sake of keeping it paperless, and since you have a savvy customer who loves being paperless, the customer grabs in image of their wet signature (previously photographed) and places it on the signature location as an embedded image in Word, saves the document locally, then emails the contract back to you on your corporate email address. You then email the fully executed document to your fulfillment team who places the document in box for future reference.

Arguably, this process meets a paperless office initiative. There are no papers printed, and everything appears to be electronic or digital.

But does this process meet the DTM definition?

No. Here’s why. We’ve certainly tracked all of our data electronically on various platforms. In fact, we can argue that we’ve properly conducted Document Transfer to the customer using a secure and encrypted means of tracking their data, creating the contract and delivering emails and attachments to our customer. The use of Box could also meet the Secure Archiving of the document. Unfortunately, though, the transfers don’t track whether the document was, in fact, RECEIVED by the customer, only that it was sent TO the customer.

The customer likely had to use their corporate authentication to access their email. So, we may meet the Authenticated access to the document requirement…may be! Unfortunately, the authentication audit trail is not accessible nor known by a single system for the full lifetime of the transaction, So, you have no way of being able to validate that your users properly authenticated before sending the documents nor that only your customer properly gained access to the document.

Lastly, the signature may be an electronic mark used by the customer, but there’s, once again, no method of ensuring the specific intended customer adopted that mark as their signature. Nor does the document inherently track whether the intended customer placed that signature on the document. This means that the customer could challenge whether it was them who signed the document. Hence the process fails the nonrepudiation requirement as well. Additionally, since the meta data for the whole transaction is not inherently tracked in the document or a central system, the Secure Archiving requirements is not fully met either.

What’s Next

As you’ve now seen, there’s a distinct set of differences between going paperless on your processes and implementing a Digital Transaction Management solution in your Digital Transformation journey.

In our future posts, we’ll focus on how to develop a DTM strategy, what value DTM delivers and how to measure it, as well as how to implement your DTM strategy. Look for new posts on the first Tuesday of each month.

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