Technological delays, operational problems, rusty processes… Although many mid-sized companies have been on the road to digital transformation for some years now, the reality is that a large part of the market faces inherited challenges that must be addressed if they want to improve organizational performance, offer better services and products to their customers, and become more competitive.
The following steps are a sort of guide to break the inertia of delay, promote the necessary internal changes and move towards a model based on innovation and efficiency:
1. Align the digital transformation strategy with business objectives. The general concept of “digital transformation” is often confused with “incorporation of new technologies”. However, it is much more complex and deeper. The starting point, therefore, is a discovery process. Some companies are not truly clear about who their customers are and what their needs are. It is necessary to establish a strategy and concrete objectives from the outset, which are fundamental to achieving goals and measuring results.
2. Involve leaders. This does not only mean placing people with the right technological experience, but also having a management team that believes in the process and that can get involved in such a way that all employees feel confident in the project and are able to adapt and capitalize on the benefits. Digital transformation is, above all, a cultural challenge.
3. Manage the process in a controlled and gradual manner. Although there are often temptations to make drastic decisions and change everything from one moment to the next (the big bang model promises a drastic change but hinders the necessary change), it is advisable to go step by step: generate specific changes, preferably in pain points or in very inefficient processes, where the return can be accelerated and in turn enable new projects with an increasingly comprehensive view in organizational terms.
4. Test fast and fail fast. Related to the previous point, models such as proof of concept (POC), minimum viable products (MVP) or family & friends type testing allow to develop and test in controlled conditions to avoid that, if an error occurs, the failure is not catastrophic or has exceedingly high costs for the organization.
5. Set the user or customer at the center of the plan. Digital transformation can start with small improvements in the user experience on a website to increase customer satisfaction, for example. While technology is one of the big enablers, there are many other components that must be in place to ensure the success of the initiative.
6. Set the budget and estimate the ROI. This is a critical piece to avoid slippage. It is necessary to include not only money issues, but also estimates of time and human capital that will be allocated to the project.
Once the initiative is up and running, it is key to focus on business processes and technologies that allow reusing the resources that have already been invested in. In many cases, these are expensive solutions that add value but are not necessarily used to their full potential. In the following articles we will focus on the theory of agility to achieve these goals and detail the case of one of our partners, who following these steps completed the conversion of a law firm to a technology-supported legal services provider.
To move forward on digital transformation is much more than simply incorporating new technologies or redefining processes: it is to keep the company competitive to face the future of business.