Five things to avoid when engaging in digital transformation

Digital transformation is about looking at how an organisation works and rethinking its processes and operations to take full advantage of technology. It’s a radical approach that places technology at the core of an organisation to completely overhaul the usual way of operating, to enable people to do their jobs better, without getting bogged down with unnecessary things.

Launching and scaling a reliable technology foundation is crucial for achieving agility and resilience, driving long-term growth and gaining a competitive advantage.

There are many ways to bring about digital transformation, with a wide range of innovative technologies, software and platforms available thanks, in part, to the onset of the cloud.

However, choosing the right strategy and technologies to support a successful digital transformation is only one part of the puzzle.  

Embarking on a digital transformation project is full of potential risks. Here, we look at five key things to avoid, to maximise your chances of success:


Implementing from top-down, rather than bottom-up

Getting your people to buy into your digital transformation vision, and bringing them along for the journey, is critical and can be achieved only with a bottom-up approach.

If your organisation progresses with its digital transformation without consulting its staff on what makes life hard and what could be done to make things easier, then you’ve missed the point.

Being transparent and consistent holds the key to keeping your employees engaged throughout the whole process. Helping them understand what you’re trying to achieve, what’s at stake and the benefits it’s likely to bring will help erase – or at least alleviate – their doubts and uncertainties.

And when it comes to monitoring and measuring the success of a digital transformation project, this shouldn’t just be done from the top.

You need to check that the changes you’ve made make a meaningful difference to the people doing the work. For example, if the changes you make result in giving 20 people’s work to just ten people because the digital transformation was completed but didn’t do what it said on the tin, then the project has failed. So, keep your end goals in mind and check your progress regularly to see how they match up.


Lack of executive support

Closely related to the above point is the issue of executive or leadership support. The aims of digital transformation are hard to achieve if you don’t get engaged, committed and passionate buy-in from your organisation’s senior leadership team.

They need to see the benefits just as much as your users on the ground. However, if they don’t engage in the right way, it’s often easier for delivery teams to follow the path of least resistance, avoid disruption and try to keep everyone happy, rather than do what’s right for the organisation but risk upsetting the status quo.

Transformation projects must deliver value, show progress and make a positive impact. But executives need to understand that to benefit from the gain, they’ll need to put up with the pain the organisation may need to go through first. Delays and additional costs can also be avoided when senior executives understand the ultimate aims of the project and have the will to back it wholeheartedly with both their words and their actions.


Not affecting change

If you’re planning on implementing a digital transformation project, it must have a meaningful impact at all levels of your organisation, particularly on the day-to-day users whose roles will be affected most.

People don’t like – and are resistant to – change. So, those who have used legacy applications for many years and have developed their own ways of doing things will need to see tangible benefits of a new system if they are going to change their behaviours and adopt what you’re implementing.

It can be challenging to shift mindsets to new ways of working unless users can see the benefits.

If you’re trying to implement digital transformation and staff look at what you are doing and think, ‘that’s irrelevant for me, there’s nothing for me to change’, they won’t, and you’re on the road to failure.

If, however, you can get them thinking things like ‘That could save me an hour a day’, ‘This could reduce our costs by £x’, or ‘Wow, that’s a better way of doing things’, then you’re on the road to getting them on board and changing their behaviours.


Choosing vendors instead of partners

Technology lies at the core of successful digital transformation, as without the right tools, you won’t be able to bring about the improvements you desire.

However, on their own, the tools won’t make any meaningful difference without widespread adoption, but also if you don’t know how to get the most from them.

Choosing technology partners rather than vendors will give you a greater level of insight into the tools you use and how to get the most out of them.

While many vendors want the sale, and once you have bought their platform, technology or software, will just leave you to get on with it, a technology partner can add so much more value.

A technology partner can also help ensure your tools are optimised to support your operations and strategy, work around any misconfiguration errors and ensure that any common issues are swiftly dealt with and rolled out as quickly and efficiently as possible

The main thing to keep in mind when selecting a technology partner is to ensure their ‘solution’ doesn’t become the main focus of your digital transformation. The end goal should always be what you want to achieve.

Digital Transformation is most effective when you understand the flaws in your processes that need to be fixed and are prepared to make the changes necessary to fix them. The technology you choose should always be the means to that end.


Limited budgets

In an ideal world, your organisation would have an endless pool of financial resources to draw from.

However, the likelihood is that, with funding becoming scarcer and spending tightening, budget constraints may limit your journey to digital transformation.

While digital transformation may require new and often substantial investment, this needs to be balanced against the potential return on that investment and the additional risk it creates.

So, if your organisation hasn’t got the flexibility in its budget to do everything you want in one go, develop a digital transformation plan that involves several phases and can be delivered without resulting in excessive extra risk.

Focusing on the quick wins and achieving the broadest set of desired outcomes first will give you a solid foundation to build on. And keep in mind that digital transformation is all about continuous improvement

Often, organisations do this by picking one department or section at a time, ideally ones that are heavily process-driven or rely on manual processes. This allows the organisation to focus budget and effort on the operations that are likely to see the biggest benefits achieved in the shortest timeframe – the quick wins, or low hanging fruit.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, so aiming for progress, not perfection, is the key to making it a success.

If you enjoyed this blog and want to learn more about how we can help your organisation develop an effective cloud strategy and achieve improvement through technology, give us a call on 01332 322588 or book a free consultation.

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