It’s safe to say that digital transformation is no longer a trend, but rather a necessity in today’s business world. In response, many experts are providing a digital transformation checklist to guide companies through this complex, and often challenging process. Some of these digital transformation checklists can be as complicated as the process itself! So, we’d like to offer something a bit different.
In our last blog “Create a Successful Cloud Migration Strategy in 5 Steps”, we provided a detailed roadmap for adopting a cloud migration strategy, including creating a plan, building a framework, and designing a custom solution. However, a true digital transformation involves more than modernizing applications and migrating to the cloud. Transformation requires genuine change – and that begins with people, which is the focus of our digital transformation checklist for success.
1. Start at the top.
A true transformation cannot occur without leadership. Before any digital transformation strategy is developed, the CEO, CIO and other decision makers must embrace innovation, agree on its necessity, and determine specific goals. It’s also important for the team to define the governance framework that defines roles and responsibilities (i.e., who has a voice, who makes decisions, who is accountable, etc.) and mitigates risk.
As companies continue to invest heavily in digital transformation, CIOs can choose one of two pathways. The first is harnessing digital disruption and turning IT into a source of business innovation and a competitive advantage. The other is presiding over an increasingly marginalized IT department, a shrinking business, and possibly obsolescence. Choose wisely.
2. Define the vision.
Digital transformation has been defined as “the process of using digital technologies to create new, or modify existing, business processes, culture and customer experiences to meet changing business and market requirements.” This requires a clear overall vision which includes the long-term strategic objectives of your organization. Use this vision as a guide for your digital transformation and assess its success over time. In fact, the digital transformation plan and business plan have become so interdependent that business success now depends on its execution.
Before investing in any type of modernization, a company’s strategic vision should be clearly defined. Moving forward, any digital transformation should align with this vision. At each stage, decision makers should ask “Does this investment/change support our company’s goals?”
3. Get the team on board.
You may have noticed that “culture” was included in the definition of digital transformation. That’s because culture plays a major role in its success. A key factor in your digital transformation readiness checklist is employee buy-in. Team members across the organization should clearly understand the benefits of a digital transformation – not only to the company, but to their departments and individual roles. Take the time to outline these benefits from the macro level (i.e., this will allow our organization to outpace the competition) to the micro level (i.e., this will help you perform your job more effectively and efficiently and alleviate frustrations). Chances are, they will already understand the need since allowing employees to access and share data from anywhere on any device, securely, is now the expectation.
One way to create support is to allow team members from all areas of the company to provide input from the very beginning. As you create your digital transformation checklist and detailed plan, be sure to address common complaints or frustrations, and suggestions for improvements from employees who work closely with these systems every day.
“The cultural aspect of a business is one of the most fundamental and yet hardest part that needs the flexibility to transform. It’s not about technology; technology provides an opportunity. The key is to unlock the value by penetrating new markets, creating new offerings, and increasing productivity.” - Alex Sharpe, Sharpe Management Consulting
4. Consider your customers - both present and future.
Customer expectations regarding digital experiences are high and getting higher every day. They expect quick, seamless online interactions with your company. In fact, some experts believe that a successful digital transformation checklist should begin and end with your customers. But digital transformation is much more than simple digitization. With digitization, companies can make customer records easy to access, process inquiries faster, and fulfill orders easier. With digital transformation, companies can gather data and use it to personalize interactions with customers. It also allows you to meet customers where they gather – on the platforms of their choice.
As you create your digital transformation readiness checklist, consider how new technology can give customers a better overall experience – especially as technology has become second nature to your future customers and decision makers. And be sure to consider customer feedback when compiling your digital transformation checklist.
5. Invest in the right tools - and the right people.
Its nearly impossible to implement a successful digital transformation strategy without a solid IT infrastructure. Therefore, you should start by building an IT architecture plan that can accommodate the necessary technologies and systems to digitally transform your business. Invest here first, and then consider what tools are needed to move forward. Look at all areas of your business, from accounting and supply chain to marketing automation and security. There are applications available to help transform every area, but its important to consider which department/processes to prioritize.
Digital transformation involves investing in four areas: business processes, information management, applications, and technology platforms. Find the appropriate, industry-specific software tools for each of these and make sure they integrate seamlessly.
Use SaaS applications to solve your critical business issues where available and use cross-device experiences that will support all major mobile platforms. What about AI? While you may want to take advantage of comprehensive services, infrastructure, and tools to build AI-powered experiences, make sure these include bots that naturally interact with users. People want “human” experiences with bots. You should also look for AI-powered tools with built-in advanced analytics to make faster predictions.
But let’s face it – tools are meaningless without the right talent to use them. Your digital transformation readiness checklist should include a strategy for attracting and maintaining the right people. This is becoming more and more important as technology becomes more pervasive in every department of your organization. Once you have the talent, ongoing training is critical as technologies continue to evolve.
6. Create a culture of "failing fast"
Let employees know that its safe to make mistakes and “fail fast.” Reporting what is working and what’s not, allows the team to reassess and re-tool quickly. Moving fast is imperative because your competition is also acting quickly.
6. Keep the team informed about KPIs
Your digital transformation checklist should include key performance indicators (KPIs) that help the team gauge how well your initiatives are working. This allows you to re-calibrate and tweak digital models based on measurables value and performance. Don’t keep your KPIs a secret (only available to leadership) – let employees at every level know what the yardstick for success looks like.
There are many steps and moving parts in a digital transformation, but like any large project, having an overall plan with detailed steps will help you successfully navigate the process. As you create this digital transformation checklist, remember that a true transformation is much more than adopting new technology. Real change requires a cultural shift. If you make people the focus of your digital transformation checklist, the tools and technology are more likely to be implemented smoothly.
Contact us to find out how Softura can help you accomplish your digital transformation goals.