Digital transformation is far from a new phenomenon. No matter your industry, it’s disrupt or be disrupted. Organizations big and small are pursuing creative, innovative new ways of doing business, leaving change-resistant companies lagging.

According to Deloitte, 87% of companies believe that digital will disrupt their industry, but only 44% feel prepared for potential digital disruption. Join the pack that’s embracing the new. While it may appear intimidating, digital transformation is an opportunity for your organization to become stronger now and in the future.

As imperative as digital transformation is, it can be hard to know where to begin. Here are 7 steps that every successful digital transformation needs to consider.

How to Start Your Digital Transformation

1. Define Digital Transformation For Your Organization

Just as every organization has different challenges, customers, and goals, no two digital transformations look the same. As a result, you must kick off your digital transformation journey by establishing what digital transformation means for your organization.
It is essential to analyze your business’ current state in-depth to determine what you are trying to achieve and define your expectations. If you fail to examine your organization’s current operations, you can risk going too far, not far enough, or in the wrong direction altogether.

Key points to consider when evaluating your current state of business include:

  • What are your biggest pain points?
  • Are there any glaring inefficiencies?
  • Do you have any manual, convoluted processes consuming your time and money?
  • What would make your customers’ lives easier?
  • Of your current digital capabilities, what’s working and what’s not? And what about non-digital assets like your employees?
  • Where are you losing out to competitors or falling behind in your evolving industry?

With all these realities in mind, dig deep into the details. Investigate what precisely is causing the inefficiencies or hindering the processes. Examine why certain capabilities may be working well for you, or why they aren’t. Then, you can begin to piece together your vision for where you want to be as you start your digital transformation journey.

2. Build Your Business Case

It’s time to go beyond your vision and dive into the data. Turn your goals and ambitions into firm objectives driven by value metrics, like data relating to:

  • Productivity
  • Revenue
  • Customer Experience
  • Staff Retention
  • Conversion
  • ROI

This dataset will be important in demonstrating the urgency for digital transformation. They’ll also serve you throughout your journey as you measure progress.

The Guide to Building a Business Case for Digital Transformation

Use this guide to building a business case to get the ball rolling with some key starter questions.

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3. Get Executive Buy-In

Before your plan can get off the ground, you need the approval of the c-suite. This can be an intimidating obstacle, but it’s possible with the right approach. Here are some of our best tips that can help you present your business case confidently.

Bring An Ally

To increase your proposal’s authority, recruit an executive sponsor before going into the pitch. This individual should be a senior team member very familiar with your strategy and plan. This allows them to be an effective advocate for your project and help gain the c-suite’s trust.

Highlight the Numbers

Offer any statistics or data you have from your business case that backs your decisions. This is an effective form of proof to demonstrate the immense value your digital transformation will bring.

Emphasize the Problems

You can communicate the urgency of digital transformation by emphasizing the gravity of the issues you aim to solve. Detail the specific problems your strategy is designed to target and what your long-term project entails.

Offer Perspective

Digital transformation can be a massive competitive advantage in the long term which will interest your c-suite. Specify how fully committing to digital transformation with an agile mindset will serve the organization now and as your industry evolves.

4. Build Your Digital Transformation Roadmap

Now that you have the executive stamp of approval, it’s time to create a comprehensive plan of how and when your strategy will unfold. This will give you a clear, practical picture of what your digital transformation will look like at any given point in the project lifecycle.

Take note of these vital considerations:

  • Are there any potential obstacles to progress that are likely to occur?
  • Where do your priorities lie as far as the order of implementation goes?
  • What will have the biggest impact and drive the most value?
  • What key roles and players are necessary for each stage of transformation?

When constructing your short-term plan, be as detailed and specific as possible. Here, you will be covering all the events that will occur in the project’s first month. Your long-term plan will be broader, as you can fill in the details later. You’ll also want to map out key milestones and schedule check-ins to remeasure your metrics to assess progress.

5. Involve the People Behind Digital Transformation

A successful digital transformation relies on the support and input of your employees. But it’s also sustained long-term by happy, engaged employees. Since the natural response to change is resistance, you must foster a change-positive culture throughout your organization. Here are some ways you can accomplish this by focusing on the people behind your organization:

Communicate Your Plan Clearly

Your employees may be wary of change, but you can combat this by introducing it to them in an informative, thorough manner. Clearly state the reason for digital transformation in ways they can understand. Explain the specific issues that make this change urgent and the losses these issues may be causing. And based on your roadmap, offer an estimation of the expected timeframe.

Specify Personal Impact

“But how will it impact me?” is a question your employees will be asking soon as they catch wind of change. Be sure to communicate how each person’s daily job will be impacted. If the change eliminates the boring part of their job they dread every day, this could be a huge relief. If the change will leave potential for their upskilling, break down this process and emphasize how this can positively affect them personally and professionally.

Assemble a Center of Excellence

A Center of Excellence (CoE) is a group of team members from throughout your organization that can offer their expertise to the initiative. It’s a win-win situation: A CoE can empower your employees by giving them an active role in your initiatives. But even more, it strengthens your digital transformation overall by bringing together individuals with diverse perspectives and knowledge.

Follow Up Throughout Your Transformation

Don’t leave your employees in the dark. Rather, make an organized effort to keep your employees updated on your digital transformation journey as changes occur. You may opt to give updates during company-wide meetings, add a column to your monthly newsletter, or even create a dedicated newsletter. Regular communication of project progress helps employees feel involved and can alert them to the successes as they happen, increasing receptiveness.

Give Your Employees A Voice

Provide your employees with ample opportunities to give their feedback and voice their concerns early in the process and often. For example, you can use employee satisfaction surveys and even conduct 1-on-1 or group interviews. Above all, emphasize that they play an active role in digital transformation. Their valuable insights and efforts will drive positive enterprise-wide change that directly improves their lives.

Change Management for Your Digital Transformation Journey

6. Select the Right Vendors and Tools

Since no single solution is a “one-size-fits-all,” you’ll likely find that you need a combination of technologies to fit your needs. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of vendors and tools to choose from, so you’ll be sure to find your ideal setup.

Digital Transformation Solution Vendors: Selecting Your Ideal Vendor and Solution

Here are some common tools that can work together to help you achieve your digital transformation goals:

7. Ensure You Have the Necessary Resources and Skills

One of the main reasons digital transformations fail is the lack of skills. With new technology comes the need for specific skills and expertise. For some organizations, the answer is upskilling current employees. Maybe the people who once tended to the manual processes you’re cutting can take the wheel. Other times, it’s worth bringing in new hires or even partnerships like managed services, depending on the technology you’re taking on. You can’t truly invest in your digital transformation without setting up the support it needs to thrive.

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.

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