The right technology can move your business forward, but a digital transformation strategy will catapult your business ahead of the competition – and keep you there.
The pace of innovation is relentless, and industry disruption is the new normal. For businesses, it’s no longer enough to anticipate the future – we must operate within it.
As it becomes increasingly difficult to remain relevant, organizations of all industries and sizes are taking on digital transformation.
Digital transformation reimagines the business as a whole, using technology as the driving force for transformation.
How do you ensure that a project with such a massive scope (and hefty price tag!) succeeds? That’s where strategy comes in.
A digital transformation strategy houses the vision for your business and defines how you’ll achieve it.
It is the guidepost that pins all your transformation efforts to a unified set of goals. It gets all people moving in lockstep and all resources allocated optimally.
To help you in your digital transformation journey, we’ve outlined 8 key priorities to include in a digital transformation strategy.
Here’s what we’re covering in this article:
- What is a digital transformation strategy?
- Why is a digital transformation strategy important?
- 8 priorities to master a digital transformation strategy
Want to learn how to design a fool-proof digital transformation strategy? Keep reading!
WHAT IS A DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION STRATEGY?
Digital transformation strategy is a roadmap that outlines your organizational goals and how you’ll achieve them.
You might think that a digital transformation centers around new and exciting technology.
But, in reality, a digital transformation needs to be guided by clearly defined business objectives.
The objectives will determine the technology, not the other way around.
A digital transformation strategy houses your business goals and details how you will achieve them through technology implementation.
WHY IS A DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION STRATEGY IMPORTANT?
Why is it important? Well, digital transformation requires the business to mobilize resources.
You’ll have to invest time, money, and people power into this project.
Having a strategy behind your expenditure will maximize your investment.
It will also justify that investment by outlining a clear vision of the company’s future.
It paints a picture of where the business is going and defines the steps that will get you there.
Without a strategy, your transformation is less likely to maximize its potential.
Here are some of the problems that arise when you undertake a transformation without a strategy:
- The business invests in the wrong technology
- The project falls behind, costing the business time and money
- Critical pain-points that could be addressed by a transformation are overlooked
- The implementation phase is tumultuous, resulting in poor adoption
A fool-proof strategy aligns resource expenditure with measurable goals, prevents losses, and mitigates risk.
8 PRIORITIES TO MASTER A DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION STRATEGY
1. Decide on your transformation goals
The first step of any digital transformation strategy is strategic goal setting.
The same way leadership gathers every year to develop the business’ annual business strategy, your team must develop a digital transformation strategy with clear goals.
Why? A digital transformation can help a business achieve all sorts of objectives.
But the important thing is to isolate which goals and objectives you want to target through your transformation efforts.
These objectives will serve as the roadmap to guide all subsequent decisions and steps in the process.
Your digital transformation goals will dictate what technology you buy, how you implement it, and more.
Here are some examples of broad objectives that can be targeted through a digital transformation:
- Increase sales
- Maximize revenue
- Improve customer experience
- Modernize service offerings
- Reduce carbon footprint
- Create a more flexible and inclusive workplace
- Mitigate risk
- Improve process efficiency
- Strengthen supply chain
This is perhaps the most important step in the entire digital transformation. It’s the very core of your digital transformation strategy.
Throughout the remainder of the process, you should continually check back to your strategic goals to ensure that all decisions are aligned with the goals.
2. Conduct a technology needs analysis
When you’re drafting your digital transformation strategy, make sure to include a technology needs assessment in your plan.
In Step 1, you outlined your goals. In other words, you defined where you want the business to go.
A needs analysis will assess where your business is currently and determine the best way to get there.
Needs assessments are complex, multi-step projects. That’s why we wrote a whole blog about them. Want our formula for the perfect needs assessment? Check out this article: 7 Steps to Execute a Project Needs Analysis.
3. Use best practices in change management and project management
Change management and business transformation are two different things. However, they go hand in hand.
While change management usually involves navigating a targeted change, business transformation is the careful coordination of multiple interlocking changes.
In the context of tech, for example, rolling out a single digital tool is an example of a change management project.
The business stays essentially the same, but it’s enhanced by the new software or equipment.
However, implementing multiple tools to fundamentally alter the core of pillars and operations of the business is an example of a digital transformation.
Transformation is change – but at a larger scale and with a much broader scope.
For this reason, a change management approach combined with project management skills is a critical combo in a transformation project.
Task prioritization, needs assessments, project schedules, Subject Matter Expert (SME) identification – all of these techniques will ensure a successful transformation.
4. Map out the current state
When taking on a project as exciting as a digital transformation, it can be tempting to jump in and make sweeping changes.
However, before anything is altered, it is critical to map out the current state of the business.
You can have the best, most innovative goals. But if you don’t map out the current state of your processes and develop your future state, you won’t be able to meet your objectives.
Mapping out the current state prior to the transformation gives you a baseline against which to you can chart a path forward.
On one hand, it ensures all necessary steps are accounted for when you redesign your processes with new technology.
And, on the other hand, it gives you the opportunity to cut out unnecessary steps, streamline processes, and improve efficiency in the future-state.
5. Develop requirements documents
Requirements documents are an essential tool in any tech project. For each piece of software or technology, there should be a separate requirements document.
This document outlines the purpose of the technology, who will have access to it, how it will be used, and how it’s connected to different organizational workflows.
Why is this an important part of a digital transformation strategy? This document will help you select the right digital solution for your unique business needs.
It’s also a helpful tool for fostering executive buy-in because it details why the tech investment is significant or necessary.
6. Search out and select vendors
When drafting your digital strategy, you should account for the process of searching for and selecting the right vendor.
The requirements document will help you and prospective vendors identify whether you’re a good match.
But, with so many different software providers out there, how can you compare them all? The most streamlined method for comparing different vendors is developing RFPs.
An RFP, or Request for Proposal, describes the nature of your project and solicits a proposal from a particular tech vendor.
Each vendor gets the same RFP to fill out. This standardizes the selection process and allows you to accurately assess your different options.
7. Create implementation plan
As part of your digital transformation strategy, you’ll want to factor in an implementation plan for each of the digital solutions.
Even the simplest technological changes can result in complete chaos if not implemented correctly.
An implementation plan should include a project schedule, API development, systems integration, testing, and more.
This ensures that your new technology rolls out smoothly, so the business can hit the ground running.
Without a fool-proof implementation plan, your project can face major hurdles, costing the business time and money.
8. Develop employee training plan
The final piece in your digital transformation strategy should be an employee training plan.
Your organization must train employees on how to use the new technology in the context of their specific roles and responsibilities.
Employee training is a must-have – if you want your project to succeed, you need everyone on board.
Think about it: if you’re transforming your business with new technology, employees’ day-to-day work will be altered significantly.
And employees are the ones who will ultimately see your project through – they’ll be the ones that push the transformation over the finish line.
Training empowers employees to use the new tools – and to use them in a way that maximizes their potential.
In other words, a comprehensive training plan will help your business get the most out of your tech investments by promoting widespread adoption.
A digital transformation strategy allows you to define your vision for the company. But most importantly, it guarantees that you realize that vision.
Considering a digital transformation, but don’t know where to start? Contact us today to speak with our digital consulting experts.
We’ll set you on a path to a digital breakthrough.