5 Steps To Implementing A Successful Digital Transformation

There’s been many great Transformers throughout history, Optimus Prime, Megatron, Bumblebee, Starscream, Caitlyn Jenner, and many more.

But this isn’t about Transformers, it’s about making a digital transformation. Specifically, the steps necessary for a successful digital transformation.

A digital transformation doesn’t have to be a grandiose event, it could be something like the switch from paper to digital records. It could come out of necessity, like the transition to virtual schooling during the COVID pandemic.

Advancements in technology could even be the catalyst for a digital transformation like architects when they began to incorporate building information modeling (BIM) programs into their workflow.

In order to efficiently implement new technology into any business, it is important to have a plan or a digital transformation strategy. This strategy will serve as an outline for your company for the entire duration of the transition. Condensing it down there are 5 main steps to successfully implementing new technology into any type of organization.

Step 1: Create A Digital Transformation Strategy

Creating a digital transformation strategy should always be the first step when planning to add new technology to your organization. 

You should base any sort of change on what your goals are and not what technology you want to implement. By doing this, you will be able to better select what tools will help you reach your goals.

Oftentimes, organizations will select a tool they think is revolutionary for the sake of staying on the cutting edge of technology without ever taking into account if it’s beneficial to their goals as a business. This mistake costs many businesses large sums of money as proven by the McKinsey Consultancy group. They found that 70% of large-scale change programs don’t hit their goals, causing the whole transformation or shift to stop dead in its tracks.

Creating a plan that revolves around hitting goals will allow you to select the right tools. With goals still in mind, you can plan out step by step the most appropriate way to incorporate new technology within all applicable teams.

Step 2: Implement Plan In Several Phases

In order to get the whole of your organization onboard with any major changes, it is important to break it up into several bite-sized steps or phases. These smaller phases will allow for an easier transition as certain processes will be easier to remember if learned a little at a time.

Creating a roadmap will allow everyone to trace their progress and see what’s coming up next. Relating this to pop culture, when big movie studios create a roadmap for their brand, it gives their audience a timeline to be excited about.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) releases a roadmap in order for their fans to know what’s coming and allows them to get excited about things. In a work setting, excitement is generally traded off for things like planning.

Step 3: Incorporate The Plan Into The Culture

Whenever you see or hear the words company culture, there’s a wide number of things that come up. When trying to incorporate a digital strategy into a culture, it simply means regularizing it. This should be done at management levels in order to give examples to their teams.

Having people in management or leadership positions be an example for everyone else. The people in these positions should be trained first. The training should take them to the point where they can help others troubleshoot problems, should they arise.

In some cases, people with prior experience with new technologies can act as trailblazers, where they help others get accustomed to the new technology and the processes accompanying them.

Explaining the digital strategy or the reasons behind the change will help many people understand the need for it. In many cases, simply telling people a change must occur will not work. There will be a natural resistance to changes, especially if it affects their current workflow. By fully explaining the reasons for the change in relation to the company’s goals, you may be able to convert some of those who would otherwise oppose the change.

Step 4: Correct As You Go

In many cases, incorporating a digital transformation strategy means walking into uncharted territory. This means facing situations that you haven’t been met with before. Being able to stay flexible and correct processes on the go will be a necessary skill. You don’t ever want to be stunned to the point of not moving forward. Sometimes it’s better to move forward, make mistakes, and correct as you go as opposed to being stuck.

Situations may arise where a process intended to streamline a process actually makes it worse for a specific department or even just for a specific position within the organization. These situations will require quick thinking as these processes should benefit the whole organization. Processes don’t have to be implemented for everyone, especially if they don’t make sense for every role.

In a specific example, the transition to online education during the COVID pandemic was done out of necessity and many were not ready for it. There were a number of teachers and students that were not used to the types of technology necessary to teach online.

In some cases, teachers would present to their class without actually sharing screens. In other situations, children would not be familiar with the device provided to them, leading to issues with getting into the online class and in more extreme cases, problems actually using the provided device, whether it be a PC or a tablet.

Step 5: Assess What Works And What Doesn’t

In line with correcting as you go, being able to assess what works and what doesn’t, will help your organization in a big way. The learning process from implementing a new digital strategy will help you decide what processes will and won’t work for future digital transformations.

After your initial digital transformation strategy is implemented, you can figure out which step of the way is the most difficult and work on correcting it. In most cases, it isn’t actually the technology that holds anyone back, it could be a step in the process that wasn’t optimized for your company.

If your company culture is naturally flexible and adapting is a norm, changes in technology processes will happen more smoothly. You may find out that your company culture makes it difficult to implement new technology due to its resilience to change, in which case, you’d have to work on changing your work culture before making any big changes.

The Wrap Up

Creating and implementing a digital transformation strategy correctly is the key to adding new technology and processes to your organization. Implementing the plan in bite-sized steps while making sure the people at the top fully understand how to use the new technology is critical.

Finding a way to incorporate the new technology in accordance with your company culture will also make the transition smoother, but starting the transition is a necessary step. Being flexible enough to correct mistakes as you go is important, especially if your company is big as the corrections trickle down at a slower rate than in smaller companies.

A successful digital transformation isn’t really about the technology, it’s about the implementation of a digital strategy.