This is a follow-up of my article “Your Path to Digital Transformation in 3 Easy Steps.” In this new article, I want to provide some real-life success stories of the approach I described there.

Becoming a catalyst for change

During the early phase of my partnership as Program Architect with an international manufacturing company, the CIO had an ambitious plan to build a unified engagement platform on Salesforce, but his organization had no prior experience with Salesforce and its fast-paced development lifecycle.

As their trusted advisor, I helped roll out a digital operating model to align release cycles with the teams’ ways of working. Specifically, we provided strategic guidance on enabling multi-speed, fail-fast development processes specific to our platform. By helping them apply and think through agile principles and methodologies, we maximized the long-term viability of their Salesforce platform and had a faster time-to-market, while empowering their leaders to make decisions that delivered immediate value in the midst of many changes.

In becoming a catalyst, I cannot stress enough the importance of getting people to act now!

I saw firsthand the difference that acting fast and decisively can make when I was advising a large international telecommunications group on how to architect Salesforce for their B2B platform. Their transformation and change management team did an amazing job with aligning business and IT stakeholders — in multiple countries — with the vision of a single selling process built on Salesforce Sales Cloud.

This small centralized team completed an intensive agenda of visits to every single one of the twelve markets that planned to roll out the new platform. Later, in a two-week workshop with teams representing every country, they shared their vision, made the case for a single global business process, and enabled the project teams to act quickly. This was key to their success. Here is why the impact of acting at lightning speed to get early alignment among business and IT stakeholders cannot be underestimated. Their outcome: One single platform for 12 countries delivered in just 15 months, managing a volume of $14 billion for 1 million B2B customers on Sales Cloud, which resulted in a 38% reduction in system development and maintenance costs.

#1 EVOLVE: Move in Small Increments with Tangible Results

At the above mentioned international manufacturing company, the CIO organized a regular meeting with me and some key stakeholders. He called this event Acceleration Council. It took place every six weeks on average, and it was exclusively dedicated to taking immediate action. We would first assess the outcome of the latest changes we introduced, which incorporated my proposals developed as program architect and as a Salesforce insider on the ground.

Considering my recommendations, which were based on a data-driven maturity assessment plus the collective insights I could gather about other Salesforce customers, the CIO would make real-time decisions on the next set of short-term priorities and broader organizational changes. Tactics drove strategy during these meetings; this format is a great example of how to hardwire a Trailblazer culture and the realities of digital transformation in the day-to-day activities of an organization.

In the end, being deliberate about quick wins was a determining factor in the success of the company’s digital transformation with the Salesforce platform.

#2 ADAPT: Introduce Platform Governance Mechanisms

After two years of cumulative small successes, bigger benefits materialized at the telecommunications group —like regular release cycles with successful deployments to production every two weeks, overlapping with quarterly release cycles for major back-end integration changes, all executed by the same team and enabled by a unified Continuous Integration process. Most applications had an average time-to-market of fewer than six months, with monthly rollouts to new countries for their Sales Cloud solution. Overall, around 20 new applications delivered in 24 months, involving 40 country rollouts.

Today, and after their introduction of Continuous Delivery, they are able to deploy daily to production if needed, on a feature-basis and with full traceability from the original requirement to the deployed metadata package. Full transformational maturity in less than three years. Very impressive!

#3 TRANSFORM: Aim for the Stars, Change the Framework

During a Salesforce Expedition engagement at a global manufacturing company with retail operations in 180 countries, one of the project managers identified the challenge of creating a reward points system for their loyalty program across different channels like B2B, B2B2C, and B2C. She realized that her relatively small team would not be able to cope with the scale required for the country rollouts and the variety of applications needed, so she clearly articulated a proposal to move from siloed, project-based scoping to a product- (or capability) based approach that would provide a streamlined rewards service instead of developing a solution for each channel. Her program manager understood the challenge and empowered her to pursue her suggested phased approach, sacrificing short-term gains as a trade-off for a longer-term, more strategic success. Crafting a roadmap that provides business value in the intermediate steps until reaching that ultimate goal was the most difficult part, since she needed the buy-in of multiple stakeholders early on.

As I mentioned in my previous article, this is a job that requires the courage to pursue a long-term vision, the ability to draft realistic roadmaps, the willingness to adapt to a rapidly changing environment, and the development of your sense for good timing.

The final objective should be to maximize business value generation for your company in a fast, incremental and predictable way. And THIS is the real change that digital transformations make possible.