Imagine going on a road trip. You know your starting point and your destination. But if you don’t map out how you’ll get there, you may at best miss out on trip-maximizing attractions, or at worst, waste hours of time taking the long way.

This scenario applies to digital transformation, too. Without a well-thought-out plan for every step of your digital transformation journey, you’re bound to miss major milestones, experience delays, face unhappy people, and lose momentum.

Don’t let your digital transformation go off the road. You need a digital transformation roadmap.

What is a Digital Transformation Roadmap?

A digital transformation roadmap is the official, detailed plan that moves your organization from point A (your current processes and technologies) to point B (hitting your goals). It provides the structure you need to successfully manage and enact the changes you want to see in your initiative. Additionally, it helps you leave no stone unturned, considering the people, technology, and processes at every step for optimal success.

How to Build a Digital Transformation Strategy Roadmap in 6 Steps

1. Assess Current State & Analyze Data

Before you change anything, carefully assess your current processes and systems. Both quantitative and qualitative data will be valuable. Gather and analyze any numerical data you can find related to your current arrangements. This way, you can get a baseline to measure your initiative’s success rate during and after transformation. If you’re looking to boost a process’ productivity, take note of how much time your team spends on the specific tasks involved. Many organizations use data mining tools like ABBYY Timeline to get detailed, real-time insights on their processes’ current state. These tools also suggest specific opportunities for improvement to maximize the digital transformation initiative.

Beyond the numbers, turn to your employees. Ask those who interact with your current technology and processes daily –

  • What is and isn’t working?
  • Do they have any ideas for improvement?
  • What drains most of their time?

Understanding these realities from your employees’ perspective can help you identify what specific changes you need to solve in your transformation. Plus, you get bonus points for demonstrating to your employees that you value their opinions and experiences.

2. Identify Objectives & Set Goals

Setting realistic, measurable, specific objectives and goals will set your company up for success so you can achieve ROI, and sooner. You probably already know what “point B” is on your roadmap, but it’s important to break this goal down into smaller goals. Work backward to fill in the gaps between where your organization currently is and what you want the future to look like. Breaking up your roadmap into smaller pieces will make your transformation easier to manage. Plus, individual goals allow your team more opportunities to celebrate the small victories and the big ones, which builds momentum. After each phase, reground and consider your plan going forward. Reflecting on past bumps in the road can help you navigate subsequent phases more smoothly.

When crafting your goals and objectives, consider:

  • What do you want to achieve?
  • Does your goal align with your organization’s overall culture, goals, and business plan?
  • When do you want to achieve this goal?
  • What metrics will you use to measure success?
  • Is your goal and timeline realistic?

3. Develop a Technology-Positive Culture

You can’t achieve your goals if the people behind your organization aren’t on board. They’re the ones who will be using your new technology and following your evolved processes. As a result, you can’t leave them in the dark at any phase of your digital transformation.

Clearly communicate why your proposed changes are occurring. Specify how they will directly impact employees on a departmental and individual level. Show them specifically how these new systems will make their work lives easier and more enjoyable.

Encourage feedback from your employees and be available to answer their questions. Their concerns, critiques, and ideas on how to make the implementation more effective may even further strengthen your strategy. And don’t let the 2-way conversation end early on in your transformation – it’s critical to keep this dialogue open throughout. When employees are involved in the digital transformation process, they will be more likely to become invested in the initiative and less resistant.

Culture shifts don’t happen overnight, but with enough patience and dedication, you can make progress.

Digital Transformation Terms & Concepts Explained: Video Playlist
Digital Transformation Terms & Concepts Explained: Video Playlist

Get an overview of key terms and concepts within Digital Transformation full of short, info-packed informational videos.

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4. Get Buy-In from Senior Management Set Goals & Objectives

Successful digital transformations require a complete culture shift, which means you need the entire team on board. And no matter how big or small your initiative may be, you need senior management on your side. According to McKinsey, digital transformations are 2.5 times more likely to be successful with senior leadership support. But even if the need for change is clear to you, it may be less obvious to your busy execs. Here are some tips to make the connection:

How to Get Executive Buy-In for Digital Transformation

  • Align your digital transformation to the corporate mission and values. If management can see your company’s digital evolution as a vital step in reaching its major goals, they may be more receptive to learning more. For example, if you foresee your transformation saving the company significant money, connect that gain with the company’s financial goals. Or if your company prides itself on providing a positive work culture, highlight how digital transformation will improve employees’ work lives.
  • Communicate a Personalized Why. Give executives the details on your strategic plan, what problems you’re targeting, your long-term vision for transformation, and how an agile mindset will benefit the company. To add impact, personalize these points whenever possible. Consider the responsibilities and priorities associated with each executive you’re pitching to. What features, problems, and facts will grab their attention most?
  • Recruit Allies. If the employees handling the current technology and processes are frustrated with them, they may be willing to help. Whether they present their perspective at the pitch or submit a written testimonial, this can help humanize the problem and its impact for management. Additionally, identify an executive sponsor, a senior team member well acquainted with your initiative. This individual can accompany you at the pitch and advocate for your points, adding authority to your arguments.
  • Highlight the Estimated ROI. With so many demands coming at them from every direction, executives need to ensure their investments go to high-impact causes. Present the insights and data you collected and demonstrate how current processes and systems are wasting money and time or demolishing customer relationships.

5. Set KPIs

KPIs will help you gauge the effectiveness of your initiative and give you a tangible goal to work towards. Measure your KPIs around specific outcomes you wish to achieve. If you’re too general, like setting the goal of “increasing process efficiency,” it will be difficult to determine how close you did or didn’t get to your objective. Instead, provide specific numbers and time frames for your goals. Additionally, specify the best and worst-case scenarios and your realistic expectation for your outcome.

6. Identify Accountability

To keep your initiative active and on-schedule, establish accountability. Break your digital transformation down into mini projects that need to be completed to reach your goals and assign an owner to each one. Plan to routinely check in with them to ensure they have the support and resources necessary to be successful and timely.

Digital Transformation: The Ultimate Guide
Digital Transformation: The Ultimate Guide

Get everything you need to know about digital transformation in one place, including expert tips and 5 steps you can take to start your journey now.

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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.