Five ways to prepare for a digital transformation

It’s an intimidating fact that 50% of digital transformations fail. But instead of running for the hills, here are five ways to help ensure digital transformation success.

1. Identify and establish success KPIs

Establish specific key performance indicators (KPIs) ahead of time. Some of the most common are:

  • Return on investment
  • Cost reduction
  • Productivity increase
  • Gain in market share or competitive advantage

Establish an initial baseline and track these KPIs throughout the transformation. Assess whether your progress is helping or hurting them, and adjust the initiative as needed.

2. Create strategic and tactical plans

What do you want your business to be in two-to-three years? This strategic plan will help guide the overall structure and sequence of your digital transformation and prioritize larger projects.

At the same time, create a tactical roadmap for the first six-to-12 months. This plan is more detailed and includes specific action items for each department to perform as part of the digital transformation.

Working together, these two visions will allow you to meet an overall goal, while remaining agile enough to course correct or incorporate emerging technologies along the way.

3. Start at the top

A department head, or even a CIO, might be the person to implement a digital transformation. But without buy in from the CEO, it will likely fail.

The transformation will touch on all pillars of your business: people, technology and process. Without the vision, blessing and direction of the CEO, departments can become defensive and resist changes they deem unwarranted or unnecessary. If the CEO isn’t invested in the original plan, they will be likely to manage to the quarter and change the long-term plan to meet immediate needs. This disruption will doom your transformation efforts.

4. Start with easy wins

It’s important to build early momentum in a digital transformation. Identify several key areas primed for easy/quick wins. This will help raise the success profile and buy-in levels throughout the organization. It will help establish the best internal processes for your transformation, while also demonstrating early return on investment.

5. Partner with an organization that’s done it before

Most businesses are going through a digital transformation for the first time. As a result, they may lack knowledge of best practices.

Find a partner who has helped like-minded or structured organizations transform and succeed. They should be capable of getting their hands dirty, implementing plans with engineering services. The partner should be as nimble and be able to pivot as your business goals/objectives change or new/better technologies become available.

You can find more information on how to prevent digital transformation failure in this podcast.

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