What is the biggest obstacle to a successful digital transformation project? That is a question we are asked regularly.
The answer is always the same, people or in particular middle management. Once you get your senior executive on board, they start to see the value in digital transformation. They just ‘get it’ after all, they are the ones that are not only paying for the project but will gain the most when it is all successfully completed. Junior members of staff are also very easy to get onboard because mostly they just do as they are told. So it is very easy to get them on board. They also tend to be younger and more used to digital change which is very good news if you are the one rolling out the project. Because they can quite often be a good champion for the project and help convince your doubters.
However, with middle management, there is really nothing in it for them. They tend to be the ones that are not actually doing the tasks you are trying to automate. But, will now have to learn a whole new system of reporting and they will more often than not, be set in their ways.
So, how do we get our biggest obstacle to become our champion?
Firstly, this all comes down to communication and understanding just what we mean by digital transformation. Let’s be honest here, digital transformation is a term we are hearing a lot but if you ask 5 people, I would expect you would get 5 different answers. Let’s be clear here. We are talking about transforming processes that were non-digital or manual and making them digital. Now that sounds very technical and you may be thinking that your IT people should be looking at this. But NO, that is the first mistake you make because in simple terms to have a successful digital transformation project you need to:
‘Align people to your business strategy by creating a competitive advantage through effective communication. Which in turn, is delivered through technology’
Simple? not quite. What we now need to do is adopt the building block approach and bring in the 5 stages to a successful framework.
- Strategy – What do we really want to achieve?
- Engagement – We need to empower the people that actually do the work and those that sign off the work.
- Innovation – When we know what we want and who we want we can now start to design process and workflows.
- Technology – Of course being digital we now have to a look at what technology we can enable to carry out the strategy we have designed.
- Data – Last but most importantly we need to look at the data element. What data do you have, what do you need and what information from that data, can drive the business forward.
We have now removed the biggest obstacle to a successful digital transformation project, what next?
The first thing we now need to do is plan your digital journey. We need the business leaders to lead you through each project. They will know the areas that are weak and could be improved. This is probably best done as a strategy and whiteboarding session. You need to look at the processes because every part of the business is driven by process. You need to forget what you do you now and concentrate on what you want to achieve after digital transformation, what position the business will be, on completion. At this stage also, you need to forget about technology because once you have the process the technology will follow.
Once you have identified the processes you want to change, you then look at the people that need to be involved and empower them to drive this forward and at that point, the leaders can almost take a back seat and just have an overview. Then once all the planning is complete you can look at how you will deliver the project and what external resources, if any, are required. That will also include looking at the technology that will finally deliver your digital journey.
As with every journey, there will be delays and route changes. There may also be major re-works as something you first try, doesn’t work or could be done better. So this means, don’t worry about diversions as they can be positive and provide a better view of the landscape. But at all times you must be mindful of your final destination and don’t deviate from that.
As always, Unleashed can help you to drive the journey. We can either drive the bus or navigate your team to a more pleasant trip. For many years now, we have been helping businesses along their transformation journey, very successfully. We pride ourselves on the passion we have for change and helping businesses like you to achieve your goals.