3 best practices to go from legacy to digital

Written by David Biden and Adam Elghazi, Method Digital's Delivery Director David Biden and Digital Transformation Manager

Responsible for helping your organisation transition from legacy to digital? Finding it challenging?

Here are 3 best practices based on what we’ve seen working well for our clients over the past few years.

  1. Adopt a digital way of thinking at an executive level

First of all, it’s hard to succeed in digitising an organisation without leaders who do not ‘understand’ digital. You need leaders who are able to champion a culture of innovation and can coherently communicate that across the organisation. But leaders can’t do that if they themselves are not seen to lead the way. Leaders seeking to transition their organisation to digital need to be seen to be amongst the first to adopt new technology and use it. Only then will they be able to communicate it and promote its benefits and possibilities to others effectively.

For example, we’ve seen senior executives at Adur & Worthing Councils incentivising their staff to become innovate and collaborative. They recruited digital champions from within the organisation (mostly people who were already using digital tech) and equipped them with mobile tablets, letting them share their experiences with their peers on how it made their jobs easier and how they could do more in the same amount of time.

But digitisation is not just about technology – it’s about different ways of thinking and working. And leaders need to be encouraging these new ways of working. They themselves need to be willing to roll up their sleeves, get involved, come to the agile stand-ups and workshops and not expect to be served information on a tray. Once they are seen to be actively participating in this transformation, others will follow.

  1. Close the gap between the business and IT

Traditionally business and IT departments tend to work in silos even when under the same roof. IT teams are often focused on keeping the lights on to make sure services can continue to be delivered at all times. Often, collaboration with IT comes too late down the road (e.g. when there’s an upgrade due or some firefighting to be done).

To resolve this issue, the communication and governance models across the two areas often needs to be changed. It’s not enough to simply ask people to work together.

Don’t be afraid to change your project governance model. Do you find that agile projects and collaborating with partners don’t currently fit your way of working? Change the way you work! Set up a small project to work outside of normal practices. If that works, it could be your starting point to spread new working practices across your organisation. But you’ll do that safely and with proof that it can be made to work.

  1. Adopt a test & learn culture

There’s nothing wrong with waterfall. It’s got its benefits.

But Agile practices often have bigger benefits.

Build fast and learn quickly

The first benefit is that it allows you to build something fast and learn from it quickly. Agile project delivery allows you to build within weeks and expose what you just built to your end-users to get feedback and make sure that what you’ve built is fit for purpose.

You may build something with all the bells and whistles – a gold-plated service – but if you’ve built it on guesswork and on things that you think your users may need or want, it’s likely to result in a costly project taking up a lot of resources where users only use 10% of what you built. Not exactly an effective way of doing things and likely to attract sticks at the end of it!

When running an agile project, it is usually advised to identify something small (e.g. a core functionality of the product/service you’re trying to build), release it early, obtain feedback, and iterate until you have something that matches up with users’ needs. That’s that famous concept of building an MVP (Minimum Viable Product).

Note: it’s important however for the project team to communicate that this is NOT the finished product; it’s a first-go version to see if something is fit for purpose.

Obtaining buy-in 

Unlike a waterfall approach, this iterative way of building a product in an agile project really helps to get early adoption and support across the business. Indeed, the Show & Tells at the end of every milestone help to get buy-in and confidence in what you’re building.

Save time by failing fast

The third key benefit of using agile project delivery is what is commonly known as ‘Fail Fast’. Everyone comes into a project with some ideas of what might work. Using agile practices means you can test your ideas/hypotheses early and if they don’t work, you can quickly try something else instead of spending months on something that ends up not being what users need.

But whatever you do, always start small! And of course, for this to work, you’ll need a flexible commercial model. Not much point trying to run an undefined agile project on a fixed price commercial model that requires all the outcomes to be defined at the start of the project.

That should be enough to get you in the right frame of mind. But if you’d like to find out more, please watch this webinar recording on ‘Digitising your organisation through the use of cloud platforms’ hosted on the Digital Leaders Youtube channel.

And if you need support with this critical transition, do get in touch on [email protected] to find out how we can help.

This article was first published on www.methodsdigital.co.uk

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