• Management Tips

The Secret of Digital Transformation Success? Get It Started!

If unlocking the secrets of successful digital transformation was easy, you wouldn’t be here reading this.

The truth is, change is hard. 

Sometimes it can feel like the odds are stacked against you before you even begin! In this article, we’ll outline a few key points to help you to focus on building simple starting blocks to get your digital transformation journey underway.

Kickstarting your Digital Transformation Journey

When we face a mammoth task, we often run to external solutions before utilizing the resources we already have. We might assume that what’s needed to complete the task doesn’t already exist within our current department/team/company. 

Some of the biggest missed opportunities on any digital transformation journey are the rich data treasures and insights that are right in front of you.

The best place to start within your company is by talking with your teams, to determine their pain points and productivity barriers. 

Perhaps they’re spending hours on manual paperwork, or fumbling through clunky, confusing software that doesn’t actually help them to do their job?

During those conversations, keep an eye out for siloed work and unintentional knowledge hoarding. Some workers need to think fast and solve problems en-masse every day; are their troubleshooting methods documented somewhere? If not, creating a digital checklist or digital reference document for hidden knowledge is one of the best ways to make a meaningful start to digital transformation.

Actively listening to feedback from your teams and keeping them in-the-loop about digitalization plans from day 1 will help you earn their trust for the road ahead. Trust is absolutely critical, especially when it comes to new software implementation or other operational and process changes that might take some time to get used to.

Related: 75 evaluation questions that can give you a better start with setting digitalization goals

Navigating Change Management

What if we told you that digitalization isn’t all about technology? Stick with us on this, we promise it’s going to make sense! Digitalization, by any broad definition, is the use of digital technologies to change a business model and provide new revenue and value-producing opportunities. 

But who drives those changes and carries them forward, spurring the success of the digital transformation plan throughout the business? If your answer is anything related to people or teams, you’re right on the money. With that in-mind, it’s no surprise that change management is a crucial part of a successful digital transformation strategy. 

Change on this scale requires the alignment of all teams, and full transparency across all processes.

To achieve this, it’s important to inform everyone of the digital transformation roadmap as soon as possible. The roadmap should include timelines, milestones, and details of how each team will contribute to the overall digitalization goal.

Setting S.M.A.R.T goals to compliment the roadmap is a great way to make everything more digestible for teams. Goals help teams to feel more included in the overall digital transformation journey, because they can see the value of their individual contributions and track their own success alongside that of the business.

It’s also important to create a supportive environment where teams have genuine opportunities to ask questions. You can’t expect a change in mindsets and behaviors overnight, especially where the same processes may have been in-place for a long time. For large organizations with remote field teams, anonymous Google Form surveys can be a communication bridge linking you to their feedback.

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Knowledge Is Power

Let’s take a moment to gain some reassuring perspective. You’re not the first to attempt a digital transformation. It’s normal to be unsure of where to start, or what should be done first. The good news is that there are companies just like yours who have paved the way for you to learn from their success, as well as navigating any potential pitfalls in-between.

Great examples can be found in the results of 200 large-scale digital and AI transformations analyzed by McKinsey over six years. Some of those examples feature in McKinsey’s new digital transformation playbook for business leaders, which offers hope to those going up against the fact that 70% of large-scale digitization projects fail

When you see credible, proven, data-driven guidelines and advice – take all the help you can get.

Leveraging existing knowledge within your teams is probably one of the most powerful and effective ways to drive digital transformation across your business. Ideally, try to structure teams to work cross-functionally and share knowledge with other departments. 

This can help create an environment of agile collaboration, which will propel plans forward for the business in a much more streamlined and sustainable way. You’ll also need to identify team members who will be best-placed to champion digital transformation within the business.

If labor shortages are a source of frustration for your industry, you’ll know the value of retaining the best skilled workers. Investing in training and upskilling is a great way to keep workers feeling valued in their roles. 

When employees see that their company is making a genuine effort to invest in their future, they’re more likely to stay, and on a digital transformation journey, you’re going to need your best people to stay with you.

Related: The most efficient ways of data collection, export and processing

Running a Pilot Project

With your key allies on-board, you’re ready for take-off. A pilot project is an excellent example of a low investment, high-impact way to kickstart a digital transformation journey. 

For example, if you’re a paper-centric business with a ton of paper checklists, creating a digital version of even just one of those checklists is a great first step. It’s also a great confidence booster for you, your team, and any company stakeholders who may be observing.

Analyzing the results of the pilot project will give you a better idea of how the forecast for the rest of your digital transformation journey might look. It also gives you the opportunity to pivot and regroup if you feel you need to reevaluate things before moving onto the next steps. 

From there, scaling the pilot project little-by-little is a controlled way to keep your digital transformation journey on-track. By the way, if you’re considering using new process automation software, a pilot project is the perfect testing ground! 

Related: Five recommended workflows to automate first on your path to digitalization  

Finding a Technology Partner, Not Just Software

There are plenty of great software solutions out there, it’s just a case of finding the right one for you and your team. Knowing what you need from a software solution is key; you don’t want to end up paying a ton of money for extra features you don’t actually need and won’t ever use.

The software provider you choose should take a consultative approach to learning about your company’s goals, needs, and pain points.

They should be able to help you to figure out exactly what you need, from digitizing routine tasks and processes, to replacing paper with user-friendly digital documents. They should also support you during every step of your digital transformation journey, from the very first call, to scaling alongside your business as it grows.

Remember to tap into the experience and success of companies who have already achieved goals similar to yours. Case studies are a great resource to check out while you’re thinking about your options. If you see case studies that resonate with you, ask the software company if they can share more information about the use cases mentioned.

Don’t forget the importance of integrations! Integrations play a major role in unlocking success in digital transformations. They’re often at the heart of data gathering and data visualization, which you’ll rely on to help you to make data-driven decisions.

Your new software solution needs to be able to communicate with your existing systems and software. If it’s not capable of doing that, you’re setting yourself up for massive headaches down the line.

Final Thoughts On Managing Digital Transformation Projects

People often get stuck with inefficient systems and processes that they’re not happy with simply because they’ve gotten used to them. Yes, change can be tough, but if you keep doing what you’ve always done, you and your teams will remain stuck in a cycle of operational chaos.

You don’t need to move mountains to see the value of digital transformation. Following digital transformation best practices and taking simple, manageable steps forward will set you and your team up for success right from the get-go.

If you’d like some help with embracing simplicity on your digital transformation journey, let’s talk.

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