With digital transformation sweeping across the public sector, it is important to understand what makes projects a success. Here are the top five tips on introducing a digital transformation project:
When it comes to successful digital transformation, everyone needs to ‘buy into it’. For that to happen, the drive and enthusiasm from senior leadership is essential. All executives at the top, including elected members, must recognise that their interest in the project is what inspires the team, and ultimately sees the project through to completion. Publicly celebrating success, leading by example, and using a strong voice to champion the project are key. There will be plenty of people who will raise a list of concerns about what is stopping change from happening. Strong leadership recognises the problems but reinforces the determination of the organisation to make the changes that it needs to; having a ‘can do’ attitude rather than being passive is right at the top of the list.
It’s easy to see the technical side of a digital transformation project as the silver bullet to all of your problems. But the silver bullet can only be effective if it is underpinning a clear strategy for why, and how, this transformation is being executed. Don’t overlook the cultural change that is needed within the organisation. Most people resist change by nature, and one of the failings of strategies is that they sometimes fail to make the objectives relatable to each employee or stakeholder. It’s not just about the technology.
Of course there has to be an exercise in demonstrating best value and selecting partners or suppliers based on sound principles. But, if you are still applying the ‘sound principle’ that price should determine the outcome, then there’s every chance that the tools you need for the job won’t be up to the mark. Best value isn’t about price. It’s about achieving outcomes that derive the best possible benefit for the stakeholders involved. How many tenders assess that? None. Okay, maybe 1 in a hundred… every leap year… The factors that govern value aren’t just about what you pay – they should be about what you save, achieve or avoid as a result of the procurement decision.
Awareness and engagement of stakeholders from the beginning is crucial to understanding and commitment on all sides. From its first mention to going live and beyond, there will always be questions that need answering. The team needs to know the what, the how, the who and the why – every step of the way. Not only will all key stakeholders be informed and feel involved, but it will give a wider impression of enthusiasm from the executive leadership. And if something has to change, then tell them what and why. Sometimes problems arise or budgets are re-purposed, and being open about how reality has differed from the original plan and re-assessing the best available outcome isn’t back-tracking or failure. – it’s just good risk management and communications.
Spend too long in the initial planning stages or try to do too much too soon, and stakeholders will become frustrated. The best way to avoid this is by moving beyond the planning stage and implementing the transformation in small, quick, achievable steps. Once planning has been finalised, start with the most attainable, short-term goals (your quick wins) and then celebrate their success to build positivity towards the project. Implementing the project in phases, and making sure that everyone knows what these are, will ensure a timely transformation and also show a timeline of progress – something that can sometimes disappear under a pile of project meetings, documentation and dialogue. And yes, you do need those things, but if a project starts to become hidden to the external stakeholders and there is no visible activity, then interest and belief can wane very quickly.
Keep these five principles in mind when running a digital transformation, and the project has a much better chance of staying on track and becoming a success.
Originally published here.