Implementing Digital Transformation
by Steve Songaila, Director, The Edge
Digital. A single word that means something different to each colleague and at another level, each of your divisions. Digital transformation is business transformation. Successful digital transformations put people at the heart of the strategy and execution. With people at the core the focus is then on informing them, exciting them and ensuring they are in tune with your vision every step of the way.
Our creative team ensures your communication is always relevant, challenging where required and accessible. Our body of work supporting digital transformation spans over two decades giving us an insight into what steps will maximise your chances of success. The seven steps we’ve identified are:
1. Identify what Digital really means to your business.
With the plethora of digital capabilities that are available, understanding how some of these opportunities will actually benefit you immediately. Take a two-pronged approach – think about key specific challenges the business is facing and map out those within a wider vision.
2. Everyone has a vote.
Get rid of any boundaries between Sales and Operations or Finance and Marketing. Ensure all project teams have a balanced make up. Context is all important and silo thinking can lead to disengagement. You are transforming the business, not a department.
3. Avoid the bandage and sticking plaster approach.
Digital transformation is not a whitewash over existing infrastructure, system and user issues. All systems work better when married with standardised infrastructure, good policy management and robust security policies. New vendors will be recommending that as a matter of course. Something that can be addressed months before the first project kick-off meeting. This doesn’t mean wholescale upgrades, rather a considered review of your existing infrastructure to ensure wherever possible standardisation is achieved.
4. Don’t forget the client.
In the excitement of implementing the new, companies can get engrossed in the delivery of something they believed will work, without fully understanding it from their customer’s perspective. Few businesses genuinely reach out to and fully understand what customers really want or need. Sometimes it doesn’t require the world’s best machine learning algorithm to give them that. Lack of senior involvement on the ground to get this feedback is common. Once the strategy has been agreed and execution started, then it should almost be part of ‘business as usual’ to ask for client feedback at every opportunity.
5. Prioritise milestones conservatively.
As your cross-functional teams identify initiatives that are relevant to the business, it is important to prioritise them based on their value, time to impact and effort required to achieve outcomes. The perfect blend of these will depend on the business. Two or three quick wins (simple projects with high impact) work well to build momentum in the organisation, followed by those that are high impact but may take longer.
6. Build your final objective in stone, be flexible in your timeline.
You don’t know what you don’t know. Whilst a defined roadmap will be key to success, the ability to integrate new ideas or review planned timings realistically is actually the key to success. Transformation by its nature isn’t something that is business as usual. You won’t, as a business, have been here before with the same teams and are unlikely to be afterwards. The key is to focus on the overall goal whilst understanding that the best outcome is a successful transformation not a rushed over the line one.
7. Ensure your digital transformation objectives are aligned.
The end goal of a digital transformation initiative is no different than any other business goal. It is important to identify and define how the overall objective is contributing to business outcomes such as cost reduction, increased conversion, higher profitability, greater revenue or a potential loss/higher costs. This keeps the initiatives relevant and helps internal teams to align on a shared objective.
In summary, knowing what digital means to your organisation and ensuring every stakeholder has bought into strategic vision is the cornerstone of a successful project. Communication will be vital for this and to retain momentum throughout the programme and celebrate the transformation upon completion.