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How to Write the Perfect Digital Transformation Strategy

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If you’ve decided to embark on a digital transformation effort, you’ll need a well-thought-out strategy to succeed. To help you move in the right direction, here are some useful tips for developing that strategy.

Risks of Digital Transformation

The majority of digital transformation efforts don’t succeed. They may not fail irreversibly, but they often find themselves mired down in a variety of issues. That’s not very encouraging to anyone considering the same path. Fortunately, it’s still quite possible to embark on a successful digital transformation.

Writing a Digital Transformation Strategy that Works

So, what steps can you take to ensure that your transformation strategy works? There are a few areas that should get your focus. You have to get all stakeholders on board and get your IT department on the same team. Ultimately, you need to frame the digital transformation so that it’s something that everyone can get behind. You may find that the ‘people’ aspect of this is more challenging than the technical.

This is why it’s important that you have a clear strategy to act as a roadmap. To get started, check out these seven tips.

Start with a Clear and Honest Assessment

It’s difficult to transform anything if you don’t have a clear picture of where you’re starting. You can do this by conducting a current state analysis. This will help you to create the rest of your strategy by giving you insights into the:

  • Technical skills of your current teams
  • Culture among leadership and staff
  • Places where technical change will have the most impact
  • Existing processes, roles, and structures and how those relate to organizational goals.

Takeaway: The current state analysis is important because it helps you understand what it will take to move your business from where you are not to where you would like to be.

Make a Clear Business Case for the Transformation

If you can’t make a clear case that describes the business benefits, your digital transformation effort won’t get the organizational support you need. People will simply see it as a move to adopt a bunch of new technology just for the sake of it. The key is to create a story that shows how the goals of the transformation align with the goals of the organization. That’s what it takes to get leadership on board.

This is also where you address any fears that only technology will change. Leadership will need to be convinced that processes and products will be improved by these changes, not simply replaced with newer, digital versions.

Takeaway: Leadership needs to see this effort as something that helps the organization grow and improve, not blind adoption of bleeding-edge technology.

Connect the Strategy to Something Relevant

Of course, it isn’t just upper management who needs to be convinced. This is something that impacts the entire organization, and it’s important that anyone affected by these changes will see the value in it.

It may help to drill down to the department level, then to the roles within each department. Consider the impacts of this digital transformation from the perspective of workers, and how that might impact their daily work. What features of this transformation will make their work easier? How will it enable them to focus on important tasks? How will it automate necessary, but low-value tasks?

For example, your marketing team may dread having to adopt new technology and change a bunch of their processes. However, they may take a more positive view if you can show them how those changes can improve their ability to use digital marketing to get more leads.

Your strategy should also emphasize education. When employees hear that your change will involve ‘moving to the cloud’ or using big data to improve business processes, they may not know what any of that means. A good strategy will involve educating and onboarding team members so they understand what is happening and how it benefits them.

Identify the Skill Sets You’ll Need

There’s more to digital transformation than updating technology. Still, it’s imperative that your IT staff has the collective skill set required to plan, implement, and support the changes being made. As you write your strategy, consider which skills need to be nurtured, and who is going to be most successful at making this change happen? 

You’ll really be considering two things here. The first is which specific skills do you need your team to have now and in the near future to execute these changes. This could be:

The second relates more to capability. What will you need from IT team members in terms of leadership skills, the ability to adapt to rapid changes, or develop new technical skills quickly?

Takeaway: You’ll have to create a strategy that recognizes the practical skills you need from your IT staff, but also avoids the pitfalls of treating staff as commodities.

Justify and Secure Funding

At this point, you have upper management support, gotten team members to understand the value of these changes to them, and identified your needs in terms of your tech staff. Now, how much money do you need to make these changes, and how much can you realistically secure?

Things can get a bit sticky here because this isn’t a singular project with a singular deadline. Chances are, you won’t have a concrete figure in mind. Digital transformations impact all areas of the organization and usually involve multiple projects.

Still, you’ll need to create some kind of budget. Here are some things to consider:

  • Manage expectations that this will be an ongoing effort with multiple projects over time.
  • Create a budget committee with members from multiple business areas.
  • Clearly demonstrate how a particular initiative will add value as part of your request for funds. For example, adopting this tool for creating high converting landing pages will increase sales by 15% 
  • Emphasize the need for flexibility. You’ll need to be able to respond to changing user needs, advancing technologies, and market demands quickly. You can’t do that and adhere to SOP when it comes to getting the funds you need allocated.

Takeaway: Creating a finalized budget for this kind of transformative change is virtually impossible. Still, it’s important to clearly demonstrate value and to keep stakeholders involved in the process in order to keep the funds you need available.

Final Thoughts

Creating a digital transformation strategy is no easy task. This is a huge undertaking that involves multiple business areas, and will inevitably take several attempts to perfect. Follow the tips above to create a foundational strategy that will get your business started in the right direction.

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