Digital Transformation. Without the Disruption.

8 min read - Strategy
Tim Moore

Account Director

Works with Sonin's clients to discuss strategies, set targets and report back on KPIs.

TL;DR: The phrase “digital transformation” paints a perfect picture. The utopian business. A complete lack of any legacy infrastructure slowing you down.

But when you use an ‘all or nothing’ mindset like this, it’s hard not to be defeatist. But digital transformation doesn’t have to be such a drastic disruption to how you do things.

We’ve found that most successes are the complete opposite, in fact. Instead of looking at it as an all-encompassing business change, focus on the highest impact tasks. Those that will bring the most value, the fastest with the lowest effort.

The phrase “digital transformation” paints a perfect picture. It’s easy to imagine a utopian business. A complete lack of legacy infrastructure slowing you down. Automation from end-to-end. Everything interconnected through an all-knowing, AI-powered Skynet-style system.

With this loosely-defined idea, I’m never surprised when I see directors and execs fall into the trap of an “all or nothing” mindset. They fixate on far-reaching and all-encompassing initiatives. They obsess over the latest exciting emerging tech and then they get hung up on the feasibility of replacing every inefficient process in one fell swoop.

These are the reasons why nothing turns people off like an IT project! Because in this scenario, there’s no way to see change as anything but an interruption. But digital transformation doesn’t have to be disruptive.

Sure, successful initiatives start with a step back. An evaluation of your entire process end-to-end. But the reason just isn’t to list every possible part of your business that could benefit from change.

It’s to identify the biggest opportunities – the best places to start. The problems and bottlenecks with potential to add the most value, the fastest with the lowest effort on your part.

With all that’s going on right now, there is no better time to do this than right now.

Finding the Business Value

The definition of Business Value depends on your company, size, sector, customer-base, employees and a whole host of other factors. After almost a decade of helping businesses find theirs, though, it’s safe to say value always contributes to two categories: revenue or efficiency (or both).

Because whether it’s about customer experience, employee engagement or any number of other areas, ultimately it’s either about making money or saving it. And, in turn, it’s about growing your business.

The Process Map

To find the business value, you first need a deep understanding of your process from start to finish. A lot of organisations operate on the assumption that everyone in the business has this. In reality, everyone has a deep understanding of their own area of the business.

By working with a cross-section of your business, you’ll be able to build a process map detailing every step of the journey that your customers and your employees take. Using this, you can start to pinpoint where change will have the most impact quickly.

Finding the Opportunities

When we look at the pain points throughout that process map, we always start with the user – whether it’s a customer (revenue) or employee (efficiency). Taking the user into consideration lets us understand the level of extra value we could provide at each step.

Is there a major drop-off point in our customer journey? Is there a huge bottleneck in an internal process? Or is this just a minor inconvenience in the grand scheme of things?

As you can imagine, the highest priorities are where we can make the most impact. We then weigh those based on how much effort is required. Those high value, low effort areas are where you want to begin. They’re the quickest wins, after all.

Only once you understand those opportunities can you begin driving digital transformation. By starting with the value, and not the tech, you avoid the disruption.

Digital Transformation. Without Disruption.

Choosing a Project Champion

Once you have a good understanding of where the value is, you must assign ownership. Without an owner, change can’t happen.

Responsibility will always lie with your chosen agency. Any good digital product agency will strive to be as self-sufficient as possible, of course.. But you still need someone within your organisation who is accountable for driving that change and achieving your business goals.

That someone is the Project Champion. The person tasked with not just seeing the project through to completion, but beyond as well. A common mistake we see is when organisations only assign accountability up until the release of the product or solution. But after launch, there’s no-one to manage ongoing success over time.

For this to work, it’s vital that the Project Champion has a long-term mindset and a good agency to support them.

Finding a Good Agency

Using an agency to help you achieve digital transformation has many benefits. Other than capability and resources, a good agency will come with a wealth of experience. They’ll have run many transformation projects across many different sectors. This means that they’ll have seen the failures and the successes and be in a unique position to guide you through your project.

But other than experience, what should you be looking for when choosing an agency?

The most important aspect of choosing an agency is trust. Do you trust this agency to tackle not just a list of features or activities but to drive towards your business goals too? Do they care about your success? Will they continuously come up with new ideas and innovative solutions?

Once you’ve selected an agency, it’s important to align them to encourage close collaboration from the get-go.

Encouraging Close Collaboration

First, don’t let your Project Champion be the single point of contact between you and your agency! In theory, it limits the amount of time required from your organisation. In practice, you’ve got one person trying to communicate the challenges and goals of an entire organisation. Luckily, there’s a better way to work with agencies.

Instead, connect each department with their counterpart. Let developers talk to developers and designers talk with designers. It keeps communication flowing, giving your agency a much better understanding of who you are and what you’re trying to achieve.

Another benefit of opening up communication and encouraging close collaboration is objectivity. A valuable second opinion. It’s similar to when we onboard a new product developer or designer into our team at Sonin. After the first few weeks, we always sit down and ask them what they think of us.

Why?

Because during that time, they’re in the best position to tell us what they’ve seen and (more importantly) what they would do better. It’s the same story with an agency. They will have an unencumbered view of your businesses, the internal processes you run and the customer experience you provide.

Closing Comments

Use this time to look at what you do and how you do it. Get in touch. We’ll build an agenda for a remote workshop with every one of your key stakeholders – wherever they are. It will show you where the business value is in your process.

Out the back of it, you’ll get a full report of the day with a roadmap for change that prioritises the high value, low effort opportunities first. We’ll then work closely with you to deliver digital transformation – without the disruption.