Making It Work For Your Organization
Digital transformation is here, and it affects your organization directly and indirectly. I’d even go further arguing that it has started permeating your organizational culture and way of working no matter what you think about its pros and cons. The sooner you embrace it, the better you will be able to take advantage of the benefits and management efficiencies it has to offer. You’d only gain by accelerating digital transformation rather than taking it with a grain of salt.
Now, the caveat with digital transformation is that one needs to do it properly, i.e. in a thoughtful and planned manner. The buy-in of your organization’s leadership matters. So does the ownership of all staff in equal measure. We know that organizational change can be a lengthy and costly process. Breaking the established routine is a challenge, especially when a change process affects all facets of organizational modus operandi.
In this article, I have set out to show 5 key steps an agile organization needs to take to accelerate digital transformation, ensuring that the process is inclusive, co-owned, and efficient.
Develop a digital transformation strategy
First things first. If you are serious about digital transformation, you must develop a digital transformation strategy. Not only will it give you a competitive advantage, but it will also facilitate faster decision-making, increased efficiency, and better access to data. The opportunity cost of doing it poorly or ignoring it altogether is high and long-term.
It is important that your digital transformation is based on rigorous data, a robust assessment of organizational and staff needs, and a realistic appraisal of organizational resources. Needless to say, it needs to have full support of your organization’s leadership. Read this article to find out what the critical elements of an effective digital transformation strategy are.
An effective digital transformation strategy is one that is done for people rather than for the sake of technological improvements only. Make sure you involve your staff throughout the entire process irrespective of the level of their digital proficiency. Identify their needs and heed their advice. After all, they will be the ones implementing the strategy.
Developing a digital transformation strategy makes sense if you are able to allocate commensurate financial resources and staff time to implement it. Assuming that the strategy will include a plan with action items listed in the priority order, you need to start allocating a budget to resource these actions.
While some actions might just require simple management decisions, others can entail significant financial resources. Have a discussion on how you plan to budget your resources to accelerate digital transformation without disruptions or excessive cost.
Do it incrementally
Although we are talking about accelerating the process, consider doing it incrementally. Treat this as an action item for agile project management. Break down the task into smaller units. Start with ones which are more manageable and requires changes immediately.
While these units (or sprints) are logically interrelated, you should pause and reflect after each step is completed. Review progress and use the results and learning to inform the next steps.
Integrate milestones, regular review points, and iterative learning and development opportunities to make it real. Make sure you do not end up paying lip service to the process by involving all staff. Look out for symptoms and signs of “fake agile” to ensure that the process is owned by all staff in the organization.
Educate your staff
Keep educating your staff about each step of the process. Build in online and in-person training modules to ensure that changes do not hit them unexpectedly. You would not want to risk the process being onerous and ineffective due to low interest and motivation on the part of your colleagues.
Also, it is one thing to train your staff to ensure that they feel comfortable with new digital tools and that they can derive specific benefits from using new digital solutions. It is another thing to ensure that digital transformation does not compromise the privacy and security of users, even if inadvertently.
Make sure you come up with the top training modules on data security, cybersecurity, and data protection. These can be off-the-shelf or tailor-made courses depending on your needs. You can go even further by making some of these courses mandatory. After all, the loss of important organizational data, compromised privacy, and the leakage of personally identifiable information will put everyone in harm’s way.
Lead by example
When an important organizational change, such as accelerated digital transformation, is underway, it takes a lot of effort, coordination, and staff involvement to be effective. As a manager, you should lead by example. Raise the bar by setting performance standards that others would want to follow.
Consider establishing a task team that will coordinate the overall effort of accelerating digital transformation in your organization. It always helps to identify champions of change. These are not only thought leaders within the organization, but also your dedicated staff who will ensure the continuity and sustainability of change. The task team will be responsible for introducing changes and digital development solutions in a planned manner. Workflows will need to be updated and digitized in a way that is not disruptive, duplicative, or burdensome.
Digital transformation is intended to improve. It is not to disrupt your organization’s workflows. You’d want your organization to take the lead in accelerating the process of digital transformation. This will get you benefits from all the advantages it offers and ensure you are ahead of the curve.
To succeed on this path, you need to approach it in a planned and judicious manner. You need to demonstrate the best attributes of an agile organization to make it work for your organization. Strategize, plan, and coordinate to facilitate a rewarding and inclusive process. Learn from each phase to inform the following steps. There’s a lot to gain, and you should make every effort to gain without disrupting the ongoing work. Until next time, you are up to date.