Digital Transformation Plan on White Board

5 Steps to Plan Your Digital Transformation

Is digital transformation on the agenda for your organisation?

Whether you’re planning to enhance existing products and services, launch new workflows, or develop new digital business models, there are huge opportunities to transform your business by utilising new approaches, information or technology.

However, to realise this opportunity, it’s critical to plan right. Recent studies by Boston Consulting Group, Forbes, and Deloitte show a significant number of transformation projects don’t achieve their objectives.

Follow the below steps to plan your transformation project right, and set your project up for success!

1. Assess existing processes, systems… and DATA.

Most organisations have a wealth of ideas on how technologies or workflow changes could improve their department…but don’t spend enough time analysing how data access and delivery impact their workflow.

Data availability has an enormous impact on how teams organise their work. Changing the way it is accessed or delivered can lead to improvements in the whole workflow, rather than a single point in the process and delivering a much larger, cross-functional impact.

To identify these opportunities, it’s important to make the time to analyse what data is business critical, and how its access shapes the workflow. This framework can support your team to understand and document how data impacts current processes and systems, and help you prioritise the projects which have the biggest impact on the business as a whole.

2. Involve your cross-functional team at every project stage.

Data transformation is just that, a transformation. This means that multiple departments and skill sets within your business should be involved to maximise the chance of success.

Many organisations fail to complete a successful digital transformation because they see it as a purely technical initiative, and fail to include less technical stakeholders in their initiatives. The majority of business people use key processes, systems and datasets every day, but these stakeholders are often overlooked, or only consulted in the planning phase.

Identifying cross-functional stakeholders to participate in every stage of project delivery helps to ensure much more project stability, and helps ensure that real-world use cases are catered for, delivering a more practical transformation that works for the business.

3. Prioritise and deliver iteratively.

Transformation projects can be large and complex, which is why an iterative approach leads to the best results.

Delivering your transformation into iterative steps has a range of benefits. It can reduce the complexity of planning, and minimise the risk of errors by delivering measurable results that inform subsequent steps of the projects.

This approach can also deliver results faster than a traditional ‘big bang approach’, which enables high-priority items to be delivered first, and provide greater buy-in from stakeholders as they see the benefits.

Iterative, agile delivery also helps facilitate extra testing, to ensure that the final outcome is aligned with the organization’s evolving needs and goals for long-running transformation projects.

4. Define Aims Clearly

A key contributor to ‘transformation fails’ is ill-defined objectives, where stakeholders at the top have conflicting views of success.

Therefore, it’s important to clearly define the outcome of your project, not just in terms of deliverables, but also in terms of business impact. Be specific – how will your process improvement impact the team? How will it impact the customer?

One of the most common contributors to this is confusing digital transformation with digitalisation. To help this process, it’s important to distinguish between the two – this blog explains the difference.

Defining exactly what you aim to achieve can improve clarity in the future and lead to a more impactful transformation.

5. Create KPIs

Clear and measurable KPIs are essential to measuring the impact of your transformation programme and demonstrating success to the key stakeholders.

Setting a KPI at the planning stage is a great way to prioritise between high and low-impact projects, and to set expectations to key stakeholders.

Successful transformation projects typically have two levels of KPI – a detailed one for the team, and another for the business as a whole.

Business goals are high-level and impact board-level objectives. They often fall into one of three buckets: maximising profit margins, creating new competitive advantage, or reducing operating costs.

On the team level, you might have more specific goals, like reducing time for a process or improving a customer success score. These KPIS still feed into the overall business outcome but are ways to measure the additional benefits to a business unit or customer experience.

Need help applying these techniques? 

We specialise in helping business teams assess and improve their data and technology landscape, to enable digital transformation through improved information flows throughout the business. Read the Executive Data Framework for a useful tool to get started with transformation planning, or check out the Data Enablement Programme, our guided, business-first transformation programme.