Integrating all aspects of your business processes through digital technology can be a highly effective method of delivering value to your customers, and fundamentally redefine your organization’s business operations and customer experience through digital technologies, creating a company that’s actually stronger and more agile than it previously was.
However, if done poorly, implementing a digital transformation process within your business may leave you worse off than you were before. Too commonly, organizations see digital transformation goals as an endpoint. “Digital is not just a thing that you can buy and plug into the organization,” warns the Harvard Business Review. It is a continuous evolution
Hence, it is important to lay the groundwork for successful digital transformation. To do that, the following must be considered:
#1. Identify your starting point
The most important part of any digital transformation initiative is knowing where to begin. This starts by identifying and prioritizing what team or department within your organization, requires digital integration the most. It’s important to note that first and foremost, a digital transformation initiative requires a “buy-in” from the department it’s going to be implemented in.
Without taking the time to assess the needs of not only the department but also one’s employees, one runs the risk of having an initiative that seems forced down the throat of your workforce. This will only result in friction and pushback from employees on any attempt made towards digital integration.
As such, it is a must that for any successful attempt at digital transformation, there has to be not only an identifiable need but a desire to change from within the organization.
Furthermore, all successful digital transformation initiatives have clearly established objectives. One must ask what is the intended outcome(s) of this initiative that you as a decision-maker within your organization, hope to achieve. These intended outcomes could be to improve speed, increase capabilities, save time, etc…
These intended outcomes need to be SMART, as they will be the standards by which all your digital transformation initiatives will be measured against.
#2. Perform a workflow assessment
The next step is to consult with key stakeholders like business leaders, supervisors, and end-users, to gain a proper understanding of your organization’s workflow systems and hence, thoroughly assess its capabilities to identify which processes are broken, redundant, or manual. This helps determine the processes ripe for digitization.
Workflow assessments can either be conducted in-house or outsourced to a third-party. Either option is suitable, however, our research found that the latter works best due to as our experience consulting with several firms has shown that end-users are always more apt to point out gaps in processes with 3rd parties compared to their senior counterparts, mainly due to their direct interaction with them compared to the other stakeholders listed above which allows them to pick up on certain things the leadership team would not have otherwise noticed. Once assessments have been performed, we can move on to stage three:
#3. Provide Recommendations and Demonstrations of Optimization
After having conducted a thorough workflow assessment, the next step is to come up with a list of recommendations for what you want that optimized process to look like. This can be supplemented with a demo, as this can give all key stakeholders a solid understanding of how this process would otherwise look like when made more efficient in an easily digestible format.
This has the added benefit of eliminating communication barriers regarding certain technical aspects of the digitization process that not all stakeholders may fully grasp. This process can be done in-house or outsourced to a third party as well.
#4. Let Strategy Drive Decisions, not Software
More often than not, we find that businesses are drawn to the prospect of digitization due to a specific software product that business leaders think could be beneficial to their organization. We at SALIX Data call this the “bells and whistles effect”.
While there is merit to certain software that can enhance the digitization process of your organization, it’s important to remember that software alone should not dictate your decision-making on your digital transformation initiatives.
One has to consider the entire scope of the process and the factors at play, from the business environment, objectives, core functionalities, organizational capabilities; all of which form part of your strategy which is the guiding compass for the digital transformation efforts of one’s organization. Hence, choosing software must be made based on the strategy, not the other way around.
#5. Ensure there is an ROI
The greatest pitfall of most businesses looking to get into digital transformation is the lack of a proper establishment of KPIs to determine the profitability of an enterprise-wide digital transformation initiative.
Hence it is especially important to ensure that these KPIs are well accounted for before implementation to determine whether or not this would be a worthwhile investment for one’s organization. This makes it especially easy to measure the success of one’s digital transformation efforts over time and takes the guesswork out of making future decisions regarding this venture.