Digital transformation, whether you like the term or not, is happening on a grand scale across the world. As the needs and desires of the customer change, many leaders are taking the leap into new and emerging technologies in the hope that they will future proof their businesses and gain an advantage over the competition. With so many solutions out there already the pace of adoption is extremely high.
Robotic process automation is the fastest-growing segment of the global enterprise software market, after all. But there are inherent dangers to the overenthusiastic “dive in the deep end” attitude that pervades so many C-suites and boardrooms that get excited at the possibility of a magic bullet.
As the Managing Director of Procensol UK I get a top level view of many digital transformation projects. The intention is always good. The tech available to quickly modernise and improve business processes is outstanding. However, it is absolutely essential that the foundations are laid for a seamless transition period well in advance of any development work. And that starts with you – the exec team and the people in charge of your business strategy. It can be hard to change course once the wheels are put in motion. As I have always said: a project can fail right at the start, but you won’t know it until the end.
With that said, here is a simple two-step process I always recommend to clients that want to begin their digital transformation journey but are at risk of biting off more than they can initially chew.
The first stage of any successful digital transformation is to look at the big picture. What are you looking to achieve as an organisation, now and into the future? Are there undocumented processes in your business that you feel could be improved? Any perceived problem or flaw in your execution has the potential to be transformed and technology could be the vehicle to help you do it. With that said, people are still the engine of your success. Any digital transformation project should have, at its core, the goal to make your employees and staff better and happier at their jobs, and by extension your customers happier with your product or service. By mapping out what you want to achieve as an organisation, at a high strategic level and at the ground floor, so to speak, you foster a culture of optimism and change adoption that will outlive any short-term ‘quick wins’ that can seem so attractive in the beginning and regrettable in hindsight.
Once you have the overarching vision in place you need to do something that doesn’t come naturally to most leaders, and that is set it aside. Even in small or medium-sized businesses, the idea that you can ‘digitally transform’, as some abstract concept, is unrealistic. Instead, make a list of priority areas and then highlight one that needs immediate attention. This should be one, small, structured area of the business – perhaps something related to just one department – where you can see measurable results quickly. For example, using a single digital worker to free up individuals in your finance team to work on more creative tasks. It is much easier to stagger the roll-out of a digital transformation strategy when you are confident in its ability to perform at the micro level. It also gives you, along with your partners, the ability to develop and test new initiatives quickly and with minimal disruption.
Move fast and break… nothing?
Mark Zuckerberg once famously said, “move fast and break things”, but the businesses that adopt this mindset for their digital transformations are likely to fail. A better solution, in my opinion, is to “move fast and get feedback”. Don’t be afraid to act and make improvements – no one knows your business like you, after all – but have a strict process in place to ensure feedback is gathered quickly from the people actually using your systems and doing the work on a day to day basis. Ensure that the workers on the ‘shopfloor’, so to speak, are part of the transformation project from the beginning – they likely know the processes better than you do. Change is difficult at the best of times and when employees feel understood and listened to, things will go much more smoothly and actual significant progress is not only likely but inevitable. Not everything you do will be an immediate success, but by transforming your business in a way that allows you to adapt, you set the long-term odds in your favour.
Steve is Managing Director at Procensol UK, a process-centric solutions provider using low code applications and automation technology. You can reach him at email@example.com.
About the Author
Managing Director, UK and Co-founder
Steve Huckvale is the Managing Director of Procensol UK. He is one of the founding members of Procensol, established in 2008 and has played a major role in establishing the consulting practice in the UK. Under Steve’s leadership the company has steadily grown with a customer base across the United Kingdom, Europe and Australia. With over 20 years of experience in the IT industry, Steve has successfully taken the lead role in many high profile projects in the BPM space over a wide spectrum of technologies.