Ryan Wilkinson, CTO of IntelliShift discusses how digital transformation can ensure businesses retain a competitive advantage. He outlines six strategies that are paramount for successful execution.
With so much pressure on businesses to remain competitive, how do you ensure your operations and business are able to keep up with the changing world?
Many companies are turning to digital transformation. Digital transformation is a fundamental concept that focuses on applying technology to help businesses be more profitable, scalable, and remain competitive.
The idea of embarking on the path toward digital transformation may seem overwhelming to some. Technology is moving faster than ever before, and businesses have access to more tools, digital content, and business resources. It is imperative for businesses to continue to evolve and stay relevant to thrive in 2020 and beyond.
Specifically, digital transformation is the process of using technology to create new business processes or enhance existing ones like managing the customer experience, gathering market requirements, developing new products, or even strengthening the culture.
Because it is such a big undertaking, here are six strategies to execute a successful digital transformation project.
Have a Clearly Defined Goal
There must be a reason to digitally transform your operations or aspects of your business. It may be because your operational processes are not set up to accommodate your expected growth or you want to automate currently manual processes for greater efficiency and profitability. Whatever the reason, you need a goal to drive the transformation of your business. This is the north star of the project and must be clearly defined before you can do anything. A clearly defined goal will also help you be accountable to your project.
Get ‘Buy-In’ from Stakeholders
Before any major transformation, you must get buy-in from stakeholders. Not only is it important to understand who the stakeholders are, but it’s also important to keep them engaged throughout the process. Ensure you have communicated to your stakeholders the “why” and “how” the transformation will take place, how it ties back to the agreed-upon goals, and how it impacts employees. Throughout the project, there needs to be constant feedback with your stakeholders to ensure project alignment and that the goal remains the same – remember “the north star.”
Develop a Plan
This goes without saying. Plan, plan, evaluate and then refocus your plan. Once you obtain buy–in and an understanding of the current processes, you can put together an iterative plan. The plan should have objectives, tactics, project leaders, and teams to move it forward and ultimately drive adoption. Those on the teams should feel like they have ownership in the transformation’s success, so they will be more receptive to adopting the new tools and processes.
Communicate with Users
It is always important to communicate regularly with users who will most be impacted by the digital transformation. Often this is the most difficult part of a digital transformation. Users may not be on board because they are fearful – fearful you are intruding on their work, fearful they are expendable, and fearful they may not be able to learn the skills required after the digital transformation occurs. Communication is extremely important. It needs to be clear, concise, and sell a vision of what the new processes will look like and the critical role of users. Although you may be eliminating manual aspects of certain roles, new doors will open for them to learn and evolve their skillset – change is a good thing!
Crawl, Walk, Run (CWR)
The Crawl, Walk, Run methodology ensures a moderated approach to engaging a broader audience. With CWR, you evolve your project in stages, starting cautiously and picking up steam as confidence grows. I have seen projects fail or never get off the ground because people try to take on too many projects at a time or make the project unnecessarily difficult. You need to have iterative steps, which will help drive adoption for end-users, as well as enable you to get feedback, test, and adjust as needed.
Once you start deploying technology to your operation and users start seeing the benefits, they may start asking for more. Application rationalization is an ongoing practice that involves strategically identifying business applications across your organization to determine which applications should be kept, retired, or consolidated. The goal is to achieve improvements in business operations. As a result, a company’s digital transformation could involve consolidating the amount of technology, not adding more.
Including non-users and other seemingly irrelevant stakeholders, who do not use the applications and business processes daily can also be beneficial to the digital transformation, as they are more likely to question the rationale and status quo of the technology and processes.
Digital transformation presents an opportunity for companies to streamline and improve their processes. But, to make this shift successful, companies must deploy a strategy that moves the entire business forward.