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How to Adapt to Digital Transformation

Written by Kuldip Sandhu , Managing Director, Innovative Quality Solutions

Building the Digital IT function of the future will require the implementation of a transformational journey. Many key elements are required to ensure successful outcomes along the journey. These include:

Start as you mean to go on

Offering the business rationale for a transformation can be fraught with complexity and difficulty in gaining support from the key stakeholders in the business. However, if you harness digital technologies available in the marketplace, you can make use of big data to help generate meaningful and powerful strategies and business cases that will offer your teams compelling justification to undertake the transformation you need, in an agile fashion.

Look to the horizon, but build in quick-wins

Transforming an IT function is typically a multi-year project. And yet, considering that customers have ever-changing preferences and expectations, organisations cannot wait months, let alone years, for its IT function to change. An ability to marry a long-term vision which transcends short term trends, with quick wins throughout the transformation journey, is difficult, but crucial.

Sponsorship

There will be many challenges along the way – difficult conversations, curveballs that threaten to blow you off course, and simply heading into unchartered territory. To make transformation a success requires senior buy-in and engagement so that you know that whatever challenge does arise, the board has your back.

Benefits realisation and tracking

Many projects fail to meet business expectations because clear objectives and KPIs were not set from the outset. As simple as it may sound, making sure that the business benefits are articulated and communicated from the start, and that each individual objective and KPI is designed to achieve these benefits in some form, is the only way of being able to look back at the transformation journey having achieved what you set out to do.

Technology is a means, not an end

Whilst an IT Transformation is a good opportunity to refresh your technology portfolio, remember that there are overarching business objectives that the technology should enable.

Programme Management with a hint of Agile

You could bring on board the best project managers to help you transform, but if you apply a waterfall approach, when you hit the final year of the project, you will find that the goalposts have moved. You cannot afford to keep your head in the weeds and treat this as just another project; you will need to mobilise quickly to achieve targets in short time frames, but then come up for air to assess progress against the long-term objectives.

Pilots can’t rebuild a plane mid-flight

Make sure that you have properly factored in the time, resources and sheer energy required to undertake a transformation, and that the programme team can be completely focused on their roles and responsibilities. You cannot afford to lose momentum at any stage of the project due to a lack of resource.

Digital Pegs in Digital Holes

Understanding the technology landscape requires experts in technology. Ensuring that staff are engaged requires change management skill sets. Managing a large transformation programme requires seasoned Programme Managers. And delivering upon an overarching vision requires Business transformation experts.

Your staff may want change; they don’t necessarily want to change. 

The execution of the transformation programme could be flawless from a technical, structural or procedural perspective, but if your people are not engaged, the transformation will fail. What is perhaps the biggest risk in any project can be mitigated in many ways:

  • Enter into dialogue with your internal stakeholders well in advance – people are much more likely to buy into ideas if they feel they have helped to shape them.
  • Be extremely clear to all staff what the transformation entails, its value and rationale and how it will impact and benefit them as teams and individuals.
  • Incentivise staff in the right ways to enable individuals through training on processes and technology.
  • Never underestimate the cultural shock of change; make sure that your project team has the skills and capabilities to deal with this.

Data is your friend

The business will be keen to see that progress is being made and benefits realised. From a governance perspective, data will help you to demonstrate whether you are achieving the benefits set out in the business case not just at the end of the transformation/transition, but at a BAU stage. With a properly constructed Business Intelligence and Data Analytics strategy, proving to the business that the transformation is realising tangible value will be much easier.

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