Digital Transformation: Why Business Teams Should Lead the Charge

Business people (without data or engineer in their title), are central to all transformation projects. Without contributions, guidance and buy-in from these stakeholders, even the most ambitious, meticulously planned transformation projects will become underutilised and miss the mark. 

Conversely, transformation projects that include business people result in better adoption, improved revenue growth margins, better customer satisfaction and reduced project completion times.

How business teams contribute

There are five key steps for any transformation project. At each step, business teams have a critical role to play as collaborators, and often users of the end product.

  1. Vision and strategy: Business people are at the front line of managing existing challenges and risks, and they’re typically closest to the end customer. So they’re in the best position to spot opportunities for transformation to existing workflows, client services and reporting methods.
  2. Assessment and planning: Business people are the closest to existing technology infrastructure, processes, people and customer needs. Consequently, they have the best expertise and insights to determine what needs to be changed or updated to support the new vision.
  3. Solution design: Business people are most familiar with the strengths and weaknesses in existing technologies, processes and data. This puts them in the best position to advise on what would be most useful for their teams and to participate in the design of these approaches.
  4. Testing and Optimisation: Business teams are in the best position to complete user testing throughout the project and feedback on how the solution works in practice.
  5. Change Management and Culture: A successful digital transformation project requires a cultural shift within the organisation. This involves changing mindsets, behaviours, and attitudes to support the new technology and processes. Business people can contribute by modelling the new behaviours and values and communicating the benefits of the digital transformation to their teams in a relatable way.

To give digital transformation the best chance of success, companies must put business people at the front and centre of their digital transformation programmes, giving them specific tasks that get a variety of skill-sets involved.

What’s blocking business involvement in transformation projects today?

The main reasons business people are excluded from transformation projects are usually due to outdated or misaligned views.
Many managers consciously minimise stakeholder involvement early in the project to speed things up, due to capacity constraints on the business team and time sensitivity for deployment. This is typically a false economy, creating more change requests and increasing the difficulty of communication and adoption downstream. 

Some organisations also have a limited view of transformation, categorising it as a technology initiative, not a business initiative. They may have an IT-driven approach with a focus on technology implementation rather than business outcomes. This can severely limit the success of transformation initiatives – read more about this in our blog

Organisation structure siloes can also block a business person’s involvement in transformation projects by creating communication barriers, reducing knowledge sharing, and limiting visibility into how different teams operate. This structure can make it challenging to identify the right stakeholders, understand the impact of changes, and coordinate efforts across different business functions.

Finally, project teams can also have preconceptions about the business team’s understanding of data. This can be hugely damaging to the adoption of transformation projects. Engaging business teams early in the project typically showcases the huge business value these teams can deliver, by sharing ideas on improvements and opportunities.

How to incorporate business people into data initiatives

The best outcome is to create a streamlined, efficient way of working with the business. 

One tried and tested way to get started is to be clear on the goals and objectives for transformation initiatives, and the most important assets to the business. For data-led digital transformation projects, the Executive Data Framework offers a great working model to do this. 

Next, create a team that includes both business and IT people. This team should have a mix of skills and experience to ensure a well-rounded approach to the project.

Encourage open communication and collaboration between business and IT teams throughout the project. Regular meetings, workshops, and status updates can help keep everyone aligned and informed. This blog shares more advice on how to manage cross-functional data conversations. 

Utilise frameworks to collaborate on specifying data and process requirements. There’s a good guide to some of the basics in our demystifying data paper, or for a detailed training programme to do this, check out our Enablement Programme.

Plan your cross-functional transformation

We specialise in helping business teams improve their confidence in working with data to enable digital transformation and improved information flows throughout the business. Read the Executive Data Framework for a useful framework to prioritise the most valuable information in your business, or check out the Data Enablement Programme, to help your organisation transform with data.