Most companies today don’t have their organizational DNA in a re-usable digital format. Why does it matter? Here’s why.
Your organizational DNA describes your business in data
You can describe every organization through the data it stores about itself, provided it captures this data. We’re talking about a small set of key meta-information that is almost always needed any time a structural change comes about.
These are the attributes that define how a business is designed and how it operates, such as:
- Legal Entities (like ‘Companies’), Organizational Hierarchical Structures, and their locations
- Vision, Mission, Objectives, Actions, and Tasks
- User Identities
- Customer Records
- Supplier Records
- Capabilities, Processes and Process Steps
- Policies and Procedures
- Human Capital Roles
- Organizational Structures
- Systems and Master Data
Having the ability to interrogate this data (in the form of ‘show me this, by this, by this’) and the world is your oyster.
Why is it important?
What makes organizational DNA important? Well, try changing anything in an organization, building a new software application, implement a strategy, and you’re going to need this data.
Say you want to create a new application to manage assets across your business. You will want to use your existing list of organizational structures (i.e., divisions, departments, etc.), your existing user directory, locations of premises from which your business operates, etc.
You might also want to know which assets are business critical to underpin processes, which assets are supporting the computer systems your business relies on. Additionally, your new assets system may benefit from authority and consent escalations to sign-off reports, approve changes to asset statuses.
You can imagine, creating your new assets application will be way easier and faster if you already have access to this information in a well-maintained and coherent form.
Digital Transformation is about transforming your business (and business model) by leveraging modern digital tools, such as big data, AI, IoT, the blockchain and digital logs, cryptocurrency, 3D printing, the metaverse, etc.
You simply can’t do that without the ‘meta information’ that describes your organization and how it works.
Most organizations already hold their DNA data ‘somewhere’—It’s just not in a useful place or format
Mention these data sets to most IT people, and they will say, ‘Yes, we have that.’ All very encouraging. But in reality, these data tables are most likely split across several systems, spreadsheets, and departments. In 30+ years of consulting, I’ve never come across a company that already has their organizational DNA in a digital format that’s truly accessible.
Not that the data needs to be in the same physical location. Today, companies operate most of their systems on a cloud. It really doesn’t matter where data is held physically (provided that it complies with data privacy regulatory needs). What does matter is that you can compare and contrast this data, and access it whenever you need it.
Get your organizational make-up in a digital form, and you can do remarkable things much faster than ever before.
What you can do with your organizational DNA
Get your organizational make-up in a digital form and you can do remarkable things much faster than you ever could before. It means you can compare one dimension of your business with another. Here are 5 examples of how digitizing your organizational DNA comes in handy.
1. Automating processes / implementing new digital technologies
To automate a process with software or digital tooling, your biggest hurdle is the quality of your existing data and how long it takes for you to integrate it into your new app or platform. Data quality (particularly the cohesion of re-used enterprise data) is the no.1 project killer for digital transformation projects.
2. Honouring compliance obligations
The base principle of most compliance and regulatory frameworks these days is to ‘do the right thing by design.’ Regulators want businesses to operate in a way that thinks about how they protect privacy data, serving customers in the right way, and keeping data safe. This presupposes that the organization knows how it works and what it does. In most cases, this information isn’t well maintained, and often isn’t captured at all.
3. Knowing your business, selling your business, and becoming data-driven
There will be many occasions where you will need to be able to adapt your organizational DNA in a digital format, i.e. when you’re being considered for acquisition. Acquirers will want to know everything about your business, not limited to your resources, how your organization works, how it manages its policies, and how it makes money.
Even when you are making decisions on how to grow your business, adapt your business model, scale into new markets, etc., the obvious first question is, What is our base level of performance, and how do we work now?
4. Reacting when disaster strikes
Let’s say you have had a data breach and you know you’ve been hacked. How do you know what data is missing, what systems have been impacted, which users have been compromised, if you have no record of these operational attributes? Reacting professionally to disasters starts by having all these answers BEFORE disaster strikes.
5. Becoming an agile business
Arguably, the biggest single reason why you need to hold your organizational DNA in a digital form comes down to its impact on business agility. Growing your business is much harder when you don’t know how your business works, and how it performs today. Once you have access to this data in a composable format, the possibilities to amplify your growth are substantively improved.
Why it makes sense to prioritize digitalizing your organizational design DNA
You should be thinking about digitalizing your organizational design DNA prior to making investments in digital transformation, because, in a single step, it achieves the following:
- Helps decision makers make data-driven decisions on improvement priorities
- Supplies the baseline to measure change improvements from investments
- Exposes areas of risk and opportunities for growth
- Boosts time-to-value for new solutions
- Improves the quality and coherency of data (the biggest reason why digital transformation projects get de-railed)
Creating your digital organizational DNA (if it’s not in a useful format today)
Companies like Encanvas and NDMC Consulting, offer services and products to help organizations build their digital DNA as a single-version of the truth in the form of a relational data mart. But if you want to create this yourself in your own business, the thing to do is:
1. Discover where your data is held today and what’s missing.
2. Create additional database tables for the bits you need to add.
3. Determine how you can create a relational database and reporting structure that allows your team to re-use and consume the data.
If you don’t have the knowledge, skills, or resources to do this internally, we are able to supply the data architects and consultants to enrich your team and resource projects to build its digital DNA agenda.
Speak to one of our consultants to learn about what we can do to help.