The ‘digital revolution’ is not exactly new… but we still see businesses battling with basic things. Financial reporting is an example… where leaders may need multiple reports from different systems to see their bank balance, accounts receivable, invoicing status, payroll, sales performance, timesheets, and so on.
Not surprisingly, businesses continue to invest in digital, data, and analytics to improve performance and get ahead of the competition. Let’s look at some approaches which help you succeed in this area.
Getting Clear on Goals
It sounds obvious… but there has to be a clear link between digital strategy and direct benefits to the organisation such as increasing revenue, profitability, market share, efficiency, or competitive advantage. These benefits also need to be measurable and occur within a certain time frame. This lays the platform for a sensible digital strategy.
‘Maps’ Not ‘Baskets’
Run your businesses (and digital strategy) based on a roadmap, that is, a series of initiatives that are prioritised, accomplished in certain timeframes, and get the business closer to a goal. The alternative is to have many disparate projects underway (in ‘baskets’) with no grand design or cohesion. Also, your team is more likely to warm to a roadmap and you’ll get ‘buy-in’.
Break Things Down
A lot of cash has been invested in digital projects which did not realise returns. Risks can be reduced by breaking larger projects down into smaller parts. Compare the goals of:
- “Improving customer retention”. This is a giant goal with many variables (including non-digital variables). And
- “Reducing the customer onboarding process from 10 to 5 days”. This is much narrower, easier to achieve, and easier to measure.
You’re more likely to succeed by winning a series of manageable battles than trying to change too much too soon. Plus, success breeds success… so build a track record on smaller projects and celebrate your progress.
Dedicate Resources… and Measure ROI
Digital projects are challenging and multi-faceted. They are especially difficult when tackled ‘part-time’ by people with many other distractions. Best to appoint a full-time leader, even if that involves hiring someone or engaging a consultant.
Also, digital transformation comes at a cost so forecast the Return on Investment. The good news is that most businesses no longer need a huge investment in infrastructure to see results. There are usually best-of-breed tools for specific use cases, and custom application development available for a modest investment. This has also greatly increased speed and agility in digital projects.
(Deployment) Speed is of the Essence
Aim to quickly translate ideas into tools that can be used on the front line. This doesn’t mean cutting corners or failing to prepare. You should see the impact of your projects, at least for micro-projects in a matter of weeks or months, not years. Projects which linger on don’t do the organisation much good. And they suggest you should move to agile continuous-delivery processes that should characterise digital projects.
Digital transformation means change. Employees may resist change and you’re likely to need their support. Incentives are one way to do this. Another is to explain the rationale for the change and how it will benefit customers and employees.
Where possible, create teams who back these projects and have them recruit supporters. You can’t please everyone and a serious view needs to be taken of those who don’t cooperate. Build a culture which embraces change.
Value and Access Technical Talent
Tech talent includes individuals with expertise in data engineering, analytics, design, user experience, core technology, technical architecture, entrepreneurial builders, and quality assurance. Your needs will change over time so having a project leader who can access the right talent is a starting point. No need to hire all these people, who are generally available as subcontractors or through consultants.
Business leaders should be intolerant of substandard processes, reports, and systems. It’s a good time to invest in improvements… but follow these Best Practices!
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our office.