The pressure to digitally transform in the Acceleration Economy is palpable. It has thousands of companies around the globe rushing into projects as a reaction to competitive threats, pressure from investors and shareholders or to “play catch up” before the market passes them by. These digital transformation initiatives represent billions of wasted dollars globally as the majority of them ultimately fail due to poor planning, unrealistic expectations, and misalignment of business strategy, technology investments, and execution plans.
To ensure a digital transformation initiative gets funding and succeeds, a framework to put business value context around the goals, metrics, processes, and outcomes becomes the key to helping your board and executive committee understand, and eventually back, the initiative. We have identified six specific elements of that plan that are being applied today by companies who have successfully secured funding and executed their projects (does not mean there were no hiccups, like with any larger project).
Follow these 6 steps defined by Acceleration Economy Analyst and founder of Raven Intel, Bonnie Tinder, as she shares insights from companies executing their digital transformation initiatives every day through peer-reviewed experiences.
1. Set a Clear Scope and Vision
If you’re exploring a digital transformation project, your organization is likely experiencing bottlenecks or blockers. Maybe your organization is still completing tasks manually and causing bottlenecks. Maybe you’re using software that worked previously but simply can’t support your organization’s current state.
When presenting your project to leadership, you’ll need to have a detailed brief. This must include (among other things) documentation of the challenges that your transformation will solve, the scope of work, a timeline, key success metrics, and budget as well as your proposed project team. Without these items, your leadership team won’t have visibility into the preparation you’ve done to get your project off to the right start.
2. Align the Digital Transformation Initiative with Company Goals
Another key piece of information within your project brief is how your digital transformation project connects back to your organization’s goals. The more that you’re able to align your project with revenue, transformation, or even multi-year goals, the easier it’ll be for leadership to say “yes” to the project plans and budget you’re proposing.
3. Know Your Success Metrics
Once you have a thorough understanding of your project plans, you need to think through how you will measure its success. Additionally, you will need to consider how it will deliver tangible results to the company. For example, this can include increased organizational efficiency, reduced bottlenecks, better customer/team member experiences, or integrations between operating systems.
4. Set a Realistic Transformation Timeline
In reviews submitted to Raven Intelligence, we asked all reviewers if they have any lessons learned or regrets. Among the top five responses was, “we wish we gave ourselves more time.”
Nearly 60% of ENSW go over the timeline, with 16% being double the time anticipated. Having reasonable timelines specific to your organization and project goals helps ensure that your project will get the green light from leadership. Also, it’ll help ensure that you won’t have to answer questions later on. This is if you were overly ambitious with your project timeline.
5. Address Proposal Concerns Straight On
Of course, it’s important to have a strong overview of your project timeline, budget, and goals. However, if there are areas of your project that you have concerns about, transparency will be your friend. Come prepared with potential solutions. Present those options to leadership after you present the problems. Ultimately, your leadership team will be appreciative that you identified these areas of risk. Furthermore, they will be able to offer guidance on how to approach them. This will help to build more rapport between you and the executive team.
6. Match the Best People and Skills for the Initiative
The right team will make or break your implementation. In our Top 7 Regrets of Enterprise Software Implementation, our reviewers told us that one of their top regrets is that they went with the first recommendations from their software partner. When looking for the right fit, look for consulting partners who are transparent with their on-time delivery, scoping accuracy, and team consistency metrics.
It is essential to have a solid partner who is committed to your project and understands your organization. If you don’t have one, there’s a high likelihood that your project will fail. What matters most is that you find a partner who is committed to your project and success. Additionally, you need one who is able to bring a qualified, experienced team to the table. With internal resources, make sure you have a responsibilities matrix created. This will ensure you have a thorough understanding of who needs to do what in order for your project to be successful.
One customer left us this valuable advice:
“Check out a partner’s expertise thoroughly – not just that they have experience with the software/vendor in question, but that they have completed projects that are the same/similar as you are proposing. Finding out that your partner has proposed a solution, based on their understanding of your requirements but a misunderstanding of the software’s capabilities can be a time-consuming and expensive path to travel. Get and check references and sample projects from other clients from both the partner and the software vendor!”
Getting leadership buy-in is critical to the success of your digital transformation project. Having an ambassador at the top can help you break through internal barriers. It can ensure that the digital transformation project remains a top priority for everyone involved. At Raven Intelligence, we want to make sure you’re ready for your digital transformation projects by providing information on how best to prepare yourself for it – from gathering customer feedback on consulting partners to offering ENSW industry metrics.