The answer to that burning question that brought you here – how difficult is a digital transformation project? Well, not very.
Okay, I will elaborate, just for you. I can tell you the world has changed. Whatever preconceptions you had about technology, software development and IT in general are just plain out of date. Digital Transformation Projects are about as easy or as hard as you want to make them. The problems they can solve are about as endless as the solutions that can be created to solve each one of those problems.
Using Technology to Solve Business Problems
The key point is that there is always more than one way to solve a problem. Many years ago I chose the strapline for Unleashed as “using technology to solve business problems”, first and foremost you don’t have to solve a problem with technology. If I have a new client request I could do the job with pen and paper and push that around. That’s not very efficient though, so I may create some kind of process with productivity tools I already have and understand, Word, Outlook, Email, Excel but then I may find all I’ve done is replicate the paper process and it’s only a marginal efficiency gain. Alternatively, I may look out to the market for some software that’s already been created to solve that problem and buy it in. If none exists, or I don’t like that software, I could potentially create my own. Then I have even more routes, low-code, no-code or writing code!
Digital Transformation Projects ARE Creative Projects
Problem solving in a Digital Transformation Project is a creative process and like most creative processes you have elements of discovery, insight, ideation, incubation, and evaluation. The steps of the creative process can vary depending on what problems you’re trying to solve. We even created our own ‘Unleashing Process’ for these type of projects. However, first and foremost you have to understand the problem.
When it comes to finding a solution, it only happens once you’ve really thought about the problem and often gathered data on it. Afterall, if you don’t really know how big the problem is in terms of time, cost, people and other metrics then it’s very difficult to justify going for certain types of technology solution when the cost benefits just aren’t there.
At Unleashed, we’re not developers and to be honest – I never really want to be one. I’m an advocate, trainer and supporter of “citizen-developers” and whilst I know enough about software development to live my life in the IT industry, I’m more about empowering people to solve their own problems. I make the fundamental point in this blog over and over again – you know your own business better than any consultant ever will. There’s no point us borrowing your watch to tell you the time. You are the expert of your own sector, enterprise, company etc when you’re faced with an outsider.
Where help comes in during the Digital transformation project process is when you don’t necessarily understand the tools, the art of the possible or as part of your insight and incubation stages need some external resource with skills you don’t have (yet).
So what is a Citizen Developer?
You. You are a citizen developer. In IT we make crazy terms up that daunt people. You may have once called a person great at Excel because they know a bit about macro’s or can do superb VLOOKUP’s – but these are generally the people with sufficient IT skills to solve a problem, with a little bit more knowledge than most people like to apply. The likelihood is if you arrived at this blog you have sufficient curiosity and ability to apply yourself to take things to the next stage.
There is a plethora of tools and solutions to your problems, and in recent years a wave of low-code and no-code app development tools like PowerApps and Kissflow. There are hundreds more and we do our best to keep up-to-date. The analogy I like to use is these tools (particularly the no-code ones) are like Lego bricks, I can build what I like within reason with these tools – however, I’m constrained by the shape of the bricks. Low-code and No-code can take me 80-90% to a really efficient solution to a business problem, however that next step would mean getting the real developers in.
Cheap to Change
The cost advantages of these technologies though make them really attractive, but where I really am passionate about them is that they are also “cheap to change”. I spent many years as an IT Manager being sold ERP’s by slick salespeople who knew less about their own products than I did, but I still got sucked in. Tools like Dynamics NAV where we were sold on that new fields could be added to fulfil customer requirements on an ad-hoc basis, closed the deals. However, the £1000 bill to add a new column somewhere after we were sold, soon ensured we were looking elsewhere as soon as we could. Low-code and no-code solutions just simply aren’t that, drag and drop the field in place, hit publish and all your users have it. You just need one reasonably tame citizen-developer inside your organisation and a little help to get you started.
This is a completely new way of looking at things and in a way has been an issue I’ve been banging my head against a wall with for ten years. On one side of the argument I’ve encountered staid old IT professionals, or just so-called professionals in general who approach IT projects as the textbooks told them in the 70s. Analyse, document, reengineer, test, implement. This makes the approach to Digital Transformation Projects expensive and only fit for a certain select few. As I said at the begging, the world has changed.
Digital Process Transformation
I’ve been trying to coin this term for a while, so you’ll have to indulge me a little. However, my pain point is – if you have a process inside your organisation you want to change – you’re either locked in by your existing IT systems, as I was – not for any other reason other than expense. Or the process to change itself was so damn cumbersome that you just simply couldn’t be bothered kicking that process off and involving everyone for months on end just to get something minor done.
As I’ve said, there’s a few big changes here. Low-code and No-code software development tools are here to stay and the market is getting ever bigger and more comprehensive. There is a rise of citizen-developers (thanks lockdowns!) self-taught people who have solved problems at home and probably work for you and you don’t even know it and finally the fact that these tools are so cheap to change you can make evidence based process changes ad-hoc.
Build something in a low-code environment, learn something new from what you’ve done, implement it. Your processes are dynamically improving, your business is getting more efficient, you have empowered staff – you’re absolutely bossing it.
Starting Digital Transformation Projects with a bit of Digital Process Transformation
Well hopefully, I’ve convinced you it’s easy – if I haven’t, then I’m happy to jump on a call with any organisation who simply wants to see the tools we have and explain how they can start this process. Just reach out via our contact form and one of the team will be more than happy to set-up a call to discuss your Digital Transformation Projects.