5 Steps to Effective Digital Transformation

A survey from Forrester recently found that when it comes to digital transformation, businesses are struggling.

Even the term ‘digital transformation’ sounds overwhelming but really, it just means changing your business to take advantage of the technology available to gain efficiencies and competitive advantage.

One of the problems with digital transformation is too much technology leading to too much change for human resources. Many transformation efforts are running into “confusion, delusion, and resistance to change,” according to ZDNet.

Embracing digital transformation can include incorporating software-as-a-service (SaaS) and other cloud-based applications, data and analytics, customer engagement software, IoT, and business automation, to name a few items. But as above, there are so many technology tools available now, all of them capable of solving some of your business problems. How do you make it all work?

Choosing the right technology is only one part of a digital transformation strategy. New technology may also require an update to your business processes, which then requires support for your people, to help them understand the change and reinforce the ‘new way’ until it becomes the only way. You need to make sure that your team is on the same page from start to finish. These five steps can help you get there.

  1. Realize That Digital Transformation Never Ends

According to the Forrester survey, 21% of the leaders surveyed (out of 1,559 responders) thought they had completed their digital transformation. Unfortunately, this isn’t a good mindset to have. Real transformation is ongoing and iterative because technology continues to grow, change, and adapt. It needs to be a priority not just now, but for every strategic plan in the future because, as cliché as it sounds, technology is the future of business. What’s working well today might not be the latest tool in five or 10 years. New solutions can make your processes more efficient, help you save on operational costs, help provide better and more interactive customer service, etc.

The point is that we don’t know what the future will bring. And neither do you (no matter how great your predictive analytics are!). So, saying the digital transformation process is “complete” is a little like saying your budget is complete. It might be at a set point for this year, but it’s going to change in the next fiscal period, and the next, and the next. You are never done.

  1. Align the Transformation with Your Strategic Goals

Your digital transformation should align with your organization’s priorities. Simple enough, right? But it can be surprisingly complicated. There’s a lot of noise out there about the latest and greatest tech. And that’s because much of it is effective and really cool. But it’s only effective for you if it can actually achieve a return on investment and help transform your business in a positive way.

When you are working on a strategic plan for your business, you likely don’t create a list of 100 goals, because that volume would simply be impossible to achieve. Your efforts would be too diluted. It’s generally better to focus on three to five core goals but give them each the effort they deserve. The same goes for digital transformation.

If your strategic goal is to increase sales by 10%, does automating your employee expense process make the most sense for your business? Perhaps not. But if your goal is to increase your profit margin or decrease operational costs by 10%, then it may align with your plan.

Don’t just go for new technology tools because of the media hype. Be strategic about it and the results will show for themselves.

  1. Embrace Vision, But Don’t Ignore Function

It’s fantastic if you have a strategic vision that includes digital transformation. You probably have a team of executives who have big ideas and big goals for the business. Great! These days, almost anything is possible, but don’t forget about the implementation.

Many projects stall, or even fail, because of improper implementation. So, while you do need people on your team who are visionaries and can look at the big picture, you also need people who are realists and can see what will work, how long it will take, what complications might arise, what infrastructure requirements are needed, etc.

Digital transformation can affect nearly everyone in your business, so make sure the people involved in the planning are the ones who will actually be using the new tools. That can also help increase employee buy-in.

  1. Pick Software That Gives You the Most Bang for Your Buck

Something that can often derail transformations, digital or otherwise, is thinking that you need 50 different programs for 50 different tasks. Today’s cloud-based software is actually much more versatile than that. For instance, there are automation tools that have separate programs for employee expense automation and travel automation, but you can also choose a solution that does both.

You can also create customized software that lets you do more in one application. It’s possible some of the software you’re already using has more capabilities than you realize or can be customized to work better for your business processes. So, you don’t have to replace everything you are currently using, older applications can still integrate with new digital tools.

Make sure you are choosing digital tools that pull double duty as often as possible for even more efficiencies; it could save you money in the long run.

  1. Stay the Course and Check in Often

Digital transformation can be a long process — as we said before, it’s really never-ending. But even implementing one new solution can take time and resources to make sure it’s done right.

No matter how well your implementation plan is designed, there will probably still be hiccups. Schedule frequent check ins — weekly or even more often — to make sure the project is on track and achieving the desired results. This is far less time consuming than doing damage control because an error or miscommunication got out of hand.

And most of all, don’t give up. It can sometimes be easy for your implementation tasks to get swept under the rug or pushed aside for pressing priorities. Continue making it a priority and you will see results (and savings) much sooner than you would otherwise. This will also reinforce that you are committed to the change.

Working with an experienced partner can help. Someone who has ‘been there, done that’ can identify risks and potential obstacles but can also help you manage through those risks and obstacles for the best outcome.

For instance, our team of experts at SHEA Global can help you plan out a digital transformation strategy, evaluate your current infrastructure and business applications, recommend tools that get the job done, and even do the implementation for you. All of this support means you’re protecting your investment over the long term. And achieving your transformation goals short term.

Learn more about how we can help your business grow and adapt. Call 905-470-6830 or visit SHEAGlobal.com