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How Leaders Can Ensure a Successful Digital Transformation

How Leaders Can Ensure a Successful Digital Transformation

This article will help company leaders navigate digital transformation by reducing friction and maximizing the benefits of new-tech migration.

Companies facing a digital transformation — that is, moving legacy processes to newer, digital solutions to meet changing business and market requirements — often face an uphill battle. In addition to installing new solutions, you must also ensure your team is ready for the shift.

The great news? Whether your company opts for smaller changes, such as a new internal messaging platform, or a more significant change, like a new project management platform, digital transformation can help your company grow and succeed. In fact, Deloitte research finds that digital transformation efforts can lead to increased revenue, higher customer satisfaction, improved product quality, and greater overall efficiency, amongst other notable benefits.

How you manage the changes that come with any transformation can be the difference between success and failure. The following steps will help company leaders navigate digital transformation across different industries by reducing friction and maximizing the benefits of new-tech migration.

1. Choose the Right Technology — and Explain Why

In a 2020 study conducted by IDC with Salesforce, 32 per cent of Canadian firms had accelerated their technology adoption plans. The first step to make that digital transformation a reality? Choose the right new solutions for you. Depending on your company, this selection process might involve one or two new solutions or it could require a complete overhaul of your entire tech stack. Take the time to select a new tech option that works well for your whole organization — or consider multiple solutions for different teams.

For example, sales and marketing may have different needs when looking for a new CRM. The right solution should deliver results for both teams. You’ll also want to consider future needs. Does the option you’re considering integrate with the solutions you use now and may need in the future? Does it offer the features and user seats you will need as your customer base or product offering grows?

Finally, take the time to explain why this solution is the best choice for your team and solicit feedback. What does this solution offer that makes it the right choice? Ask your team members if the solution meets their needs and if they notice any potential roadblocks. Asking these questions before migration means you can make any necessary adjustments before you invest time, money, and other resources.

2. Get Buy-in From Teams, Not Just Leadership

When getting buy-in for a new solution, most companies focus on leadership. While it’s crucial to make sure the heads of IT and marketing understand the benefits of a new solution, it’s arguably even more important to make collaborative tech decisions, being mindful of the people who will actually use the systems.

Employees who have used the same technology or processes for years are often hesitant to switch. They may dread learning a new system and need help understanding the benefits. Take the time to share why the switch is important and focus on the benefits in their day-to-day lives. Will the new solution reduce the amount of manual data entry? Prevent dropped calls? Make it easier to share files? Show team members how the shift will benefit them, not just the company’s bottom line.

3. Start with Small Changes

Think about the last time you made changes in your life. Maybe you committed to exercising more or eating better. Did you immediately run a marathon or throw away all the not-so-healthy food in your fridge? Most likely, you made small changes first, such as cooking one healthy meal a day or walking a couple of miles three times a week. That’s because small, incremental changes are less disruptive and easier to adjust to.

Rather than completely replace an entire system, start with small changes. For example, when migrating to a new HR system, you might move PTO requests over first, then roll out benefits, and later payroll. Making small changes gives your employees time to learn the new system and spot technology issues earlier.

Companies replacing multiple systems can also take it slow. Start by offering training and switch one or two platforms at a time. This gives your technology team time to solve issues as they arise rather than risk the entire system crashing simultaneously.

4. Create a Transition Playbook

Whether you have a small team of 10 people or a massive global workforce, digital transformation is complicated. Creating a digital transformation framework helps streamline the process by outlining each step, identifying who owns different parts of the process, and establishing a timeline.

This step will also help you determine the necessary resources and clarify the primary goals for the transition.

Your transition playbook should include information such as:

  • Systems that will be replaced

  • Resources required

  • Goals for the transition, including what metrics to track

  • Timeline for switching

  • Owner(s) of each step in the migration

  • Risk mitigation plans (more on that in the next section)

  • Testing and QA processes

  • Timeline for training, including a completion date

  • Metrics for success

  • Plan for ongoing monitoring

Consider using a structured change management process to help your organization plan, launch, and monitor the results of your digital transformation.

5. Create a Risk Mitigation Plan

When deploying new technology, there is always a risk of serious problems, such as software crashing or a new system failing to integrate properly. Even with proper testing, risk mitigation is crucial to digital transformation success.

Before deploying a new system, create a list of potential problems or risks. Depending on the system, this list might include coding issues, hardware complications, or data security challenges.

Then make a thorough plan to mitigate those risks. Start by outlining ways to prevent these issues from occurring, such as backing up data or adding QA before deployment. Next, create a troubleshooting guide that outlines the proper procedure for common problems. For instance, what is the first step if your new HR system crashes?

Finally, decide who is responsible for the resolution process. In most cases, someone on the IT team will be in charge of fixing the issue; however, consider designating a point of contact in key departments to ensure IT knows who to contact.

6. Solicit and Listen to User Feedback

Asking for feedback from the users who interact with new programs daily makes it easier to spot small problems before they become large challenges. For example, if call center team members struggle to input data, you might help resolve the issue by integrating a feature to automate the task.

Soliciting feedback also helps end users get excited about the switch to a new solution because they feel like part of the process. For best results, design a feedback loop into multiple steps of the digital transformation process.

7. Track Impact Over Time

Rolling out new software isn’t a one-and-done task. Digital transformation is most effective when it is part of a longer journey. Sometimes, that may mean slowly rolling out new solutions over a few years as time and resources allow.

Whether your organization introduces several new solutions quickly or takes a more measured approach, it’s important to understand the impact of digital transformation over time. For example, your team might only save one hour a week in the first month of using a new CRM because they’re still learning the system. Several months in, the time saved might increase to four or five hours per week.

Failure to track metrics over time prevents your company from understanding the true impact of the change and may cause hesitation about new tech adoption in the future.

Before deployment, outline specific times to review metrics. For example, one month before the switch, one week after, and again at 30, 90, and 180 days. These check-ins will provide a clearer understanding of the long-term impact of your digital transformation.

The Future of Business Is Digital

Digital transformation has fundamentally changed how we work, gather data, and interact with customers. As big data, AI, and machine learning continue to grow — and other innovations emerge — businesses must be prepared to adapt to newer technologies by making digital transformation an ongoing process.

Successfully navigating a digital transformation starts with an innovative culture. Building a team that is excited about new technology and open to learning new systems positions your company for long-term success.

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