Digital transformation can feel like a New Year’s resolution—sure, you know it’s a good idea to exercise a bit more, but the sun hasn’t come up yet and your bed is so warm…
Getting started is the hardest part.
Recent research from personal computer equipment company Fujitsu confirms that most organizations have knowledge of the benefits of digital transformation:
While many business built before the digital revolution have either digitized their processes or are in progress, many have not. Unfortunately, there it isn’t as simple as pressing the “on” button, and many analog processes that are currently working would require a lot of capital to transform.
Between the cost of digital transformation (including human capital) and the possibility of failure for a major corporate project, the process can seem daunting.
For organizations that seek a digital transformation but have yet to implement, this raises the question: Where do you start?
In this blog post we’ll give you some direction, planning resources, and quick tips for getting started with a digital transformation project to give you a foothold.
Let’s dive in!
Prioritize Your Business Objectives
Digital transformation is a stepping stone to true innovation, which means your business may look a lot different (products, revenue streams, etc.) afterwards, but most organizations aren’t just going to charge into the unknown without knowing what business outcomes they’ll receive.
Ask yourself which areas of your organization would benefit the most from digitalization. For example, if paperwork process like getting contracts and documents signed is slowing down your sales team, you might want to consider how much time you can save them by looking into an electronic signature platform.
On the other side of the coin, if you’re having issues with customer retention, you might want to examine how using digitalization to provide an enhanced customer experience will affect your business.
By analyzing these two examples side by side, your organization can decide which will provide a stronger ROI, which will be easier to implement, and which will have a bigger impact in the area that’s most important. Of course, business leaders need to understand broader market trends when deciding which area to prioritize and map them to your business objectives.
Get Organizational Support Early On
Do not wait until after you’ve formulated your entire digital transformation strategy to present to organizational leadership. Instead, talk with them early on about the outcomes you expect and get their buy in.
Support from the executive team is absolutely critical, as you will need to account for the resources to implement, such as restructuring the IT department, buying equipment or cloud storage, and many other activities needed to support digital innovation.
We’ll talk more about budgeting in the next section.
Additionally, you need to ensure that your organization is set up for collaboration. One of the huge, if not undersold, benefits of digital transformation is the ability to break down information silos across the business. Depending on the structure of your company, this may require more work than anticipated to open up lines of communication and ensure each department has a system for collaborating on projects across the company.
Establishing A Budget
When it comes to funding a major corporate project like digital transformation, consider how detectives in the Baltimore Police Department talk about how to increase the amount of cases they solve in the class HBO series The Wire:
“Cases go from red to black via green.”
Yes, you’ll need funding, but it’s probably in your best interest to make a more compelling case.
Consider quantifying your costs and comparing them relative to the benefits of your planned digital activities, using your research to extrapolate the potential ROI. Additionally, you’ll want to exhaust all possibilities of accomplishing your digital transformation goals with the company’s existing resources.
What will your expenses be? Will you need to hire new talent? Going through the budgeting exercise should point out areas where you may require additional personnel, whether a full-time employee or a consultant.
Keep in mind—if your digital transformation is successful, you’ll be doing business in completely new ways, which require different skill sets than those your employees currently possess.
With your opportunities prioritized, your support garnered, and your budget set, it’s time to put it all together with an actionable plan. Building a roadmap for digital transformation allows you to see the bigger picture by schedule things far in advance, assign resources, and proactively consider obstacles to success. You’ll want to consider any interdependencies in your plan of action, whether internal or external, and account for managing those.
Grab Some Quick Wins
Lastly, since your digital transformation roadmap will likely indicate a long journey, try to get some quick wins early on to build momentum.
While prioritizing in the first step, you’ll find areas that need transformation the most, as well as areas that would be the easiest to transform. Examples of areas that would be easy to transform include projects that don’t require additional budget or staff, or that can be accomplished on a trial basis. We may be biased, but transitioning your paper contract process into electronic signatures is a great way to test a small part of your digital transformation—and you can even try it for free!
When looking for the ‘low-hanging fruit,’ try to find projects that have metrics associated with them so you can show improvement with data. Additionally, consider choosing an project with good visibility that many people will notice and benefit from.
We know that digital transformation can feel like a massive project with no clear starting point. We hope that with a few actionable tips on your side, you’ll feel more confident in how to prioritize and break down this large project into actionable steps.