Digital transformation is a journey

Digital transformation is a journey and not a quick-fix

Digital transformation is the re-envisioning of business strategy, tactics, processes, culture and stakeholder experiences, by leveraging new technologies, to meet evolving social and economic needs.

As we mentioned in part one of this mini-blog series, the digital transformation journey for any organisation must take a holistic approach. Recognising cultural, strategic, operational changes and wellbeing of people to yield the greatest benefit. The clear emphasis is on people rather than technology.

We looked at the first couple of letters of our acronym “START”, with S and T being State and Training, respectively. In this blog, we explore the next two letters.

Agreement

Projects are successful when there is agreement between the various stakeholders on the project rational and goals. There must be buy-in from both internal and external stakeholders for the digital transformation process to be optimal.

It is important to understand the difference between transformation and change management. The two concepts are very different. Change management is akin to having a problem and finding a solution, with the focus on process modification to resolve a problem. When we talk about transformation, we are focused on a holistic approach with many inter-connected initiatives. The primary focus of such transformation is to ensure business sustainability in a world where traditional dynamics are changing due to geopolitical stresses, climate change, changing consumer attitudes, potential deglobalisation and contracting world economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A good starting point in obtaining agreement and buy-in from internal stakeholders is to re-evaluate the key performance indicators (KPI) which staff are ingrained with. Aligning KPIs with the digital transformation vision and SMART goals would be a good driver to get everyone focused on the journey ahead.

Do keep in mind that digital transformation is not a quick-fix, but a long journey over many quarterly and annual reporting periods. Understandably, to obtain external stakeholder interest you should have regular communication and updates about this journey.

Responsibilities

It is important to agree appropriate responsibilities for all stakeholders and recognise these cannot be the same as business-as-normal responsibilities. Digital transformation project responsibilities need to be clearly defined within the project structure.

Project management methods like PRINCE2 make a point of defining project roles and areas of responsibility. It is hard to assign tasks in a meaningful way without an agreed schedule of responsibilities.

Furthermore, it is important to ensure that all stakeholders, internal as well as external, are assigned responsibilities. For example, external stakeholders, like customers should be given responsibilities which perhaps involves them self-onboarding onto a new digital online platform. Carefully designed communication strategy and incentive scheme will help such external stakeholders fulfil their responsibilities in a timely manner to ensure the overall project timeframe is adhered to.

As noted in part one of this mini-blog series, training should be emphasised, as it permeates the whole digital transformation process from beginning to end. Training does not only relate to technology training, but people training. Knowing and understanding people’s attitudes and acceptance of technology and digitalisation is important. This will help reach quicker agreements and acceptance of responsibilities.

Read more

Part 1 – Digital transformation is about people

Part 3 – Digital transformation technologies