Many businesses know that they could be doing things more efficiently. They know they need to rethink old models and processes and undergo a digital transformation. However, just the mention of the term is enough to make people nervous.
A digital transformation involves integrating digital technology across your entire business to ultimately improve how your business operates. It’s different for every organisation, depending on their existing processes and the needs of their customers.
As a general rule, in order to remain competitive, it’s important to look at which parts of the business can be automated and digitised. Do you need to have hard-copy files, or would a shared filing system in the cloud, such as OneDrive or Dropbox, be more useful? Can you free up your service team by using an online automated chatbot for easy questions? Does it make sense to start doing online ordering? If you’re not considering these types of questions, you may find your business gets left behind.
COVID-19 has forced this change on many businesses, and they are finding themselves moving forward but without some of the usually planning that goes along with this sort of change.
Digital transformations are often long difficult processes with ever-changing goal posts. However, there are a few things you can do to give your project the best chance of success.
1. Decide why you’re going to transform
Will you be improving on your existing products and services? Perhaps you’ve decided to enter a new segment of the market? Are there some internal processes that are both manual and labour intensive? Work out what problem you’re trying to solve. Regardless of your reason, it’s important that this purpose is widely agreed and understood. It could be a cost-saving measure, or an improvement to customer experience. This ‘why’ will drive the project and will help you manage any push-back from stakeholders. It’s worth noting highly successful change projects have leadership buy-in and are locked in early in the process.
2. Start with an internal communication plan
Ultimately the project will have 2 main components: managing the infrastructural and operational changes, and managing the people who will be making and existing within those changes. Any successful business change will require a cultural change. But change is scary! It is important to take the time to openly communicate with the entire organisation, with strong clear communication from senior management, well before the changes actually take place. Explain the ‘why’, tell them what to expect and what support will be available. Acknowledge that people will be anxious about their job security and do what you can to remind employees of their worth and importance. Keep all employees updated on the process so that no one can say they didn’t know the changes were coming. Be honest, transparent and be patient.
3. Invest in education and training
Change, particularly regarding technology, can be intimidating. Employees can be concerned that their job will become obsolete or that they won’t be able to do their job as well with the new systems. The best thing you can do is to provide confidence through training and education. Have one-on-one sessions if needed or share information through lunch and learn events. Arming your team with the right tools and training will go a long way to embracing new processes.
4. Don’t be afraid of failure
Things will very likely go wrong, particularly early in the process. Don’t let early setbacks derail the whole project. There are sure to be things you didn’t think about and it won’t be until you start the ball rolling that they become apparent. This is to be expected and is totally fine. You may find it easier to start small and ‘experiment’, making changes along the way. As long as you continue to work towards your end goal and remember your ‘why’, there is nothing wrong with failing, learning, and trying again.
5. Make it fun
Be excited for the change your business is going through. The project team and all senior leadership should be encouraged to take an optimistic view of the transformation and to share this sentiment with the entire business. A digital transformation is a good thing! Shout the team pizza to celebrate any big launches or updates. Implement ‘summer Fridays’ where everyone can leave the office early due to the increased productivity the transformation has brought. Celebrate little wins, learn from mistakes, and show your appreciation
Remember there will be an initial change and then ongoing improvements as the weeks and months go by. Your digital transformation is going to be a journey for everyone and so you may as well hold on and embrace the ride.