06. August 2020 - Report

9 best practices for digital transformations

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For many companies, digital transformations become more and more a matter of survival instead of an optimization of existing business processes and procedures. A true digital transformation is more than just digitalizing analog processes. We would refer to a more complex transformation where digital tools are used to increase collaboration among employees, to improve the overall customer experience, to analyze data and use it to improve the business.

To make a digital transformation journey successful, we have compiled a list of best practices.

Have a clear vision that guides the digital transformation and get executive buy-in

A digital transformation has to start with a clear vision and the buy-in from the top management. If C-level executives are not fully on-board with the digital transformation, the project is likely to fail.

Prepare a clear digital transformation strategy

The strategy for the digital transformation outlines a clear plan of action to achieve the transformation. A roadmap and time plan should set further details to guide the transformation with specific milestones, actions and deliverables.

Get the entire organization on board

Communicate the vision of the transformation clearly and transparent to all employees. It is crucial to have everyone informed so that they are left without uncertainties and doubts in order to avoid employee frustration and dissatisfaction. This requires that they understand the objectives of the transformation and changes. Also, continuous and frequent communication to the employees is important to keep up motivation and engagement.

Create a sense of urgency

For a digital transformation project to get implemented, senior leaders should foster a sense of urgency for making the changes. Good communication is crucial: leaders need to communicate the “change story” to the staff for it to be successful.

Support transformation with change management initiatives

A transformation can barely be successful in an organization with resistance to change. Change management measures need to be taken to allow for changes in mindset and behavior. Although it can be extremely hard to embed new behaviors within organizations, it is the leaders' and internal communications’ job to drive those behaviors through efficient communication with employees. Companies that are most advanced in their digital efforts managed to turn their company culture into an internal accelerator of innovation and transformation.

Control the fear

Employees may perceive the digital transformation as a threat. As such, it is not uncommon to see that employees sabotage the project or are resistant to change. It is critical for leaders to recognize employees’ fears and to emphasize that a digital transformation can be an opportunity for employees to upgrade their skills and expertise.

Invest in the development of your employees

Investment in people and new skill development is crucial in a digital transformation. A lack of required digital skills can become a significant barrier for a successful transformation. A detailed analysis of required skills and expertise should be done before starting the transformation project. Required trainings need to be planned and conducted. Also, knowledge sharing and collaboration should be encouraged between employees.

Set up a clear governance of the digital transformation effort

A huge effort like a transformation requires a Steering Committee and also a Project Management Office (PMO). The Steering Committee reviews the progress regularly and gives directives to drive the change effort. The PMO makes sure on a more operational level that tasks and initiatives stay on track and within the time planning. They would also help to resolve issues and facilitate cross-functional/department collaboration.

Conduct regular pulse checks

It is important to capture feedback from employees and to measure their engagement and motivation. A helpful tool can be a regular pulse check that helps to measure the engagement on a monthly or quarterly basis. Some employees will be more engaged in your digital transformation process. Some will be resistant; some will work hard to support the initiative. It is important to spot the influencers and ambassadors of the transformation as they can have a very positive impact on other employees’ attitudes and opinions.