The road to digital transformation comes with its fair share of roadblocks, especially when the scale of change is large and fast-paced – and it often is. If you’re not careful, these obstacles may stall your initiative.

But they’re not inevitable: If you’re aware of them ahead of time, you’ll be able to plan around them and see the warning signs before they have the chance to escalate. You may even be able to mitigate them altogether. Ranging from people-based to structural and technical issues, let’s dive into the top 5 most common digital transformation roadblocks and how you can avoid them:

5 Digital Transformation Roadblocks You Need to Prepare For

1. Resistance to Change

One of the most common obstacles organizations face in digital transformation is employee resistance to change. And that’s more than just an inconvenience since it usually means your adoption rates will be low, which can be enough to sink any digital transformation. This obstacle can often be tied back to insufficient change management efforts or, more specifically, a failure to assess organizational readiness and communicate your initiative accordingly.

Organizational Readiness

First, to determine your organization’s readiness, you will assess your organization’s current state, including its culture, processes, people, and technology. This will give you a better understanding of what specifically is going wrong with your processes and how your employees feel about them. Maybe your staff is clinging to your problematic legacy system for dear life because they’re comfortable with it and can’t yet see how another solution could improve their work lives. But you never know, maybe they’re frustrated that they’re still expected to use such outdated, time-intensive tools and feel unappreciated as a result. These details will have a massive impact on how you approach future change management steps, like communication and training.

Communicate Your Initiative

Now that you understand your current state, you can use those insights to determine the most effective way to communicate your initiative to your staff. From the start, plan to communicate the purpose and benefits of the coming change, including what’s in it for your employees. Break down the specific problems that make this change urgent and the measures you plan to take to fix them. Understanding the “why” and “how” will help ease any fears or uncertainties regarding the future. Here, you’ll be glad you understand how your staff feels about your current tools and processes because it’ll heavily influence the kind of messaging you use. As you craft your communication, keep in mind what kinds of hesitancies your employees likely have based on your organizational readiness findings. You can build in arguments that settle those fears throughout your messaging.

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2. Communication and Collaboration Silos

Silos are infamous for stalling digital transformations. If you had information silos that constrained collaboration and communication pre-digital transformation, that obstacle will be magnified post-transformation if you don’t factor them into your plans.

To knock out this roadblock ahead of time, block off time to formally evaluate your current tools and technologies, and the data they hold. This evaluation should involve representatives from all departments (not just IT!) to provide context and ensure all voices are heard. Together, you will assess the redundancy, visibility, integration, and obstacles to collaboration of all current tools. You’ll then need to determine what steps will need to be added to your digital transformation plans to ensure continuous collaboration, full data visibility, and system integration.

3. Tool Selection Oversights

When it’s time to make a big decision on what technology to bring into your organization, the pressure’s on. Enterprise software is inherently complex, and new technologies can be intimidating. This presents a challenge for organizations undergoing digital transformation, both from an implementation and data integration perspective.

To avoid choosing a less than ideal solution, conduct a thorough needs assessment in the early stages of your transformation project to define your requirements and goals. Then, when you’re narrowing down solutions, ask yourself:

  • How user-friendly is this solution?
  • What kind of learning curve have other organizations encountered with this solution? Do we have the resources and budget to meet the resulting training needs sufficiently?
  • Would this solution fit our users’ requirements and environment?
  • Does this solution have the integrations we need?

4. Security Issues

If your digital transformation involves moving your sensitive business data to the cloud and integrating it from multiple sources into one, you’ll need to keep security in mind from the start. Sure, the cloud is widely known to be more secure than remaining on-premises, but even cloud-based organizations shouldn’t get too comfortable. Cyberattacks are getting increasingly sophisticated, making cybersecurity a vital priority for all. To stay on alert during and after your big change, ensure that your digital transformation plans include a comprehensive security strategy. It should include:

  • Employee security training
  • Risk assessment
  • Revisited security policies and procedures
  • Incident response plans
  • Plans for vetting potential new tech solutions to ensure they’re as secure as possible

5. Unforeseen Skill Shortages

The current IT talent shortage is hard on any organization, but it can be especially difficult for organizations undergoing digital transformation. Often, an organization will choose their new technologies and redesign their processes to their liking, only to realize they neglected to account for a certain resource or skill necessary to facilitate the change.

To avoid this, work with your technology vendors and digital transformation partner to assess exactly what skills will be necessary to make your transformation plans a reality. This may involve performing a gap assessment, where you will explore what skills your employees have, what skills your plans call for, and what training or upskilling program will be necessary to bridge that gap.

Another option is bringing on a managed services partner. They offer highly skilled IT experts who can help manage your new tech solutions during the transition period. You can even make them a part of your training plan, as they can work alongside your employees, guiding them on how to use your new technology. And they can stay as long as you want, whether that’s just for a few months or indefinitely.

You’ve Got This!

The road to digital transformation isn’t without its challenges. But by being aware of the common roadblocks that may arise and planning ahead, you can plan ahead and reduce their impact or avoid them altogether.

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About Kara

As a Naviant Content Writer since 2019, Kara is passionate about helping organizations unleash the power of technology to solve their business challenges. In her weekly articles, Kara breaks down the latest research, trends, and tips in the digital transformation world, specializing in intelligent automation, the cloud, AP & HR automation, artificial intelligence, change management, and more. She is also a Copywriter for the American Marketing Association-Madison, where she contributes bimonthly articles that interview industry experts and highlight the latest marketing trends. When she’s not writing, Kara is working on her latest art project, scoping out new music, or out for a run.