Embrace change

Are you struggling with getting your digital transformation started. Don’t feel bad, you are not alone. Change can feel overwhelming, especially when faced with many barriers along the way. However, with a sound, purpose driven, implementation strategy and thorough testing, a robust transformation can be delivered successfully, whilst empowering and encouraging employees to embrace the change.

1. Start with a clear vision

The first step in any change is have a clear vision of what you want to achieve. Ask yourself: What are our goals? What do we want to achieve? Without doubt, focus on outcomes not outputs. Once you have a clear vision, it will be easier to identify the steps needed to get there.

2. Use a model to guide the transformation

The term ‘delivery lifecycle model’ is used to describe the process of change and guides teams through delivery from start to finish. A model creates a clear structure for each phase of the change – from development through to implementation. It will therefore clearly outline what is expected and who is involved at each stage.

3. Get buy-in from stakeholders

Digital transformation can be a big change for your organisation, so it’s important to get buy-in from stakeholders early on. This includes everyone from your employees to your customers and don’t forget partners and suppliers. Above all, make sure they understand the benefits of digital transformation and how it will help your organisation achieve its goals. Think about the question “What’s in it for me?” for each of your stakeholder groups.

4. Identifying areas for change

As with any transformation, it is important to understand the opportunities and problems the organisation is trying to tackle and how current digital systems are being used. By engaging in meaningful two-way communication with staff members and everyone involved, you will be able to identify the priority pinch points and areas for improvement. Once the change areas have been identified, creating an implementation strategy for the transformation journey will be much easier.

5. Communication and engagement

Effective communication and engagement can look different for each business. If you are working in a larger organisation you may choose to carry out surveys and create focus groups to represent the stakeholders throughout the change. In smaller businesses including the full workforce will pay dividends in terms of engagement.

Using employees and customers to support and engage with the change process lets them know they are being heard. It also means genuine technical problems are being addressed, increasing effectiveness and productivity. Continual engagement with the end users and “change champions” will build an impact assessment of what equipment, training and coaching are needed to transition from the current state to the new.

6. Break down silos

One of the biggest barriers to digital transformation is silos. Different departments may have different systems, processes and data, which can make it difficult to collaborate and share information. To overcome siloed thinking and behaviour encourage collaboration across departments and teams around specific problems and opportunities. Encourage an experimental approach – propose theories, adapt and test the theory before delivering full changes.

7. Test, test, test

Technical solutions may behave unexpectedly in your unique situation, plus people are infinitely inventive and will use the solution in ways we never thought of. Allowing real people to trial new solution will provide great learning experiences and enable a smooth transition. A negative test result is a problem avoided for an end user.

By utilising the active users – in this case anyone who will use the programme – you will be able to identify whether the new software works cohesively with other programmes and fits into current workflows. An approach such as this drives efficiency and delivers solutions to the problems that have previously been identified. This can be achieved by running pilot groups or rolling the new project out in smaller phases.

8. Invest in the right technology

Digital transformation requires investment in technology. However, it’s important to invest in the right technology that meets your organisation’s actual needs. Don’t just go for the latest and greatest technology. Instead, focus on what will help you achieve your goals. Not fully making use of a new solution means you are not getting value for money, whilst procuring a solution which doesn’t meet your requirements is liking going to lead to increased costs. By understanding your requirement, you can procure a solution with the right level of functionality for your business’s needs.

9. A smooth transformation

Once change has been successfully implemented, there are vital steps that must be taken to ensure acceptance from employees. Thorough training should be provided for all users, especially staff and partners, on any new solution. This should be made easily accessible if employees need to refresh their knowledge at any time. Consider the mode of training: face-to-face, cascade, live online courses and video tutorials.

Similarly, it’s important to give support if users run into technical difficulties. Support could take the form of a service desk that ensures the new service is running smoothly or the creation of centrally held resources and guides. You could also consider low effort support, e.g. Chatbots and FAQs.

Furthermore this is also an optimum time for business leaders to engage with the workforce and customers. Encourage feedback on any new systems, monitor productivity and efficiency levels to determine the success of the transformation. Measuring value and celebrating success can often be missed as busy organisations and their teams move on to the next urgent project. However the importance of this should not be overlooked to create a positive continuous improvement culture and to share best practice.

10. Embrace a culture of continuous learning

Digital transformation is an ongoing process, not a one-time event. To stay ahead of the curve, it’s important to embrace a culture of continuous learning. Encourage everyone within your organisation – from the board to the shop floor – to learn new skills and stay up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies.