Realize Value in Digital Transformation: Power Lies with Your People

Jonathan L'Hommedieu
June 21, 2021
June 21, 2021
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Realize Value in Digital Transformation: Power Lies with Your People

As organizations consider their next steps in the post-pandemic landscape, they are expressing more than just a need to recover. There’s a new urgency to embrace digital transformation that will both enhance efficiencies now and position businesses to thrive in the future: a future where competitive solutions very likely include the Internet of Things, machine learning and artificial intelligence.

But whether it’s upgrading your current enterprise resource planning system or implementing a new system to accelerate automation of certain activities, the key to realizing maximum value from your investment  —both now and in the future — remains constant:

Ensure your people have the knowledge, skills and resources to thrive.

Collective Insights specializes in this kind of planning and implementation. What follows are four essential practices we’ve learned in our experience assisting organizations of all sizes accomplish successful digital transformations. Hint: all of them communicate value to your people, and all of them count on your people to infuse value into the solution.

Core Practices in Successful Digital Transformation

#1: Build Team for Your Organizational Mission.

#2: Business Determines the Solution; Your People Own and Drive It.

#3: Solve for the Present; Design for the Future.

#4: Plan Comprehensively; Prioritize Ruthlessly; Communicate Consistently.

#1: Build Teams for Your Organizational Mission.

Accelerating digital transformations often results from a reassessment of an organization’s mission, values, and purpose. A need to operate more efficiently, unleash new capabilities across the enterprise, and generally increase productivity and competitiveness are frequently key motivators. And yet too often, organizations do not give enough thought to the teams that are required post-transformation that align to a new mission and set of values.

Empower your people to create the right teams to continue driving change, adoption, and long-term transformation. These teams could include: long-term product and process owners who are responsible for maintaining and updating products and processes depending on business needs, capability teams who create KPIs and measure the organization’s overall ability to perform at required levels, and IT teams that ensure technical decisions are made in a way that benefits the organization today and sets future teams up for success. At the local and operational level, identify the team members who will continuously engage with process and product owners to provide feedback and success and lessons learned and who will informally create cohorts of practice locally.

Finally, create a leadership team that helps drive priorities and facilitate shared decision-making across these enabling teams that have a comprehensive and long-term perspective. Effective leadership not only helps sustain change and realize value against significant investments made to enable digital transformation, but also drives behaviors such as a growth mindset, curiosity, and seeking continuous improvement.

#2: Business Determines the Solution; Your People Own and Drive It.

Even though your transformation may be rooted in a new IT system or new production line, the solution should be designed by and for your business needs. By taking a business-first approach, you can identify where systems are currently underutilized, assess current pain points in how your people perform, and find opportunities to fully automate low-value activities, thereby creating options for people to shift their efforts to higher-value activities.

Engaging with your business stakeholders often through the development and implementation process provides an opportunity to drive and sustain adoption, as well as reduces the overall risk of employees relying on legacy processes or changing processes in an ad hoc manner. Process and product owners need to consider feedback in order to continuously improve.

By empowering your business to make decisions around new processes and implementing new systems you are also empowering your people to take ownership of fully utilizing the system and ensuring that as new capabilities are added they are adopted. Large and complex project teams may accelerate implementations, but high levels of business engagement accelerate long-term adoption.

#3. Solve for the Present; Design for the Future.

An important component of any successful transformation is developing an adoption and sustainment strategy that facilitates employees being able to work in the future state environment. Too often this focuses on the short-term needs for implementation like only developing training content for areas of significant change.

Take the opportunity to assess any existing capability gaps in the workforce and let your findings inform the training and capability-building components of your adoption and sustainment strategy. This will not only help facilitate the adoption of transformations across your organization, but also help reset the way you train current employees and onboard future employees.

Create capability and competency models and develop KPIs against those models so that your leaders are able to measure employee performance. Importantly, this will ensure that employees receive needed performance support so they can be successful and provide feedback to process and product owners about levels of adoption.

#4: Plan Comprehensively; Prioritize Ruthlessly; Communicate Consistently.

Business-driven solutions can often lead to leveraging multiple tools and systems that are best-in-class in key functionality. Speed to completion is also an increasingly important benchmark where executive teams and other important stakeholders are looking for accelerated returns on investment. Balancing the tension between the number of projects and the speed of projects can create significant risk for an organization in its effort to undertake transformation initiatives.

So begin by creating a comprehensive implementation roadmap that comprises implementation timelines, key functionality delivery dates and important milestones and activities. This not helps transformation leaders communicate across the organization, it also helps all employees understand what transformation will mean for the ways they perform their work.

Sometimes creating a roadmap reveals risk when there are multiple concurrent projects. Success will elude you if it depends upon employees adopting change at an unmanageable level or pace. Be ruthless as you prioritize the timeline in favor of those projects that enable key functionality and which are foundational in nature, and then communicate the rationale behind this prioritization with all levels of your organization.

Make People Your Priority

Change is seldom easy, but with the right decisions and commitment, it can be powerfully effective, and effectively empower your people. We’ve seen it at Collective Insights again and again. Partner with us and together we’ll empower your people to be the most successful they can be in while your organization pursues its transformation journey. Whether it’s collaborating with your business stakeholders to create a business-led solution and deployment plan or implementing a change management strategy to support your initiatives, our expertise can help drive value.For more about our approach to digital transformation, click here.