If you want to boost your operational efficiency and your ability to meet customer expectations, a digital transformation can take your business to the next level. In fact, digital transformation is not a luxury—it’s essential for the future of your organization. But what is digital transformation, exactly, and what are the steps involved in a successful digital transformation? Keep reading to find out.
Digital transformation step 1: Outline your objectives
First, consider the challenges your company faces and the outcomes you’d like to achieve through digital transformation. Maybe you need to reduce your cost base to deliver higher margins. Perhaps you have to innovate to secure new customers. Or suppose you just need to think bigger to keep up with your competition. Whatever the case, it’s important to define what digital transformation will look like for your organization, and outline the strategic goals you plan to achieve as a result of this transformation. How will new technology and processes help you create a more efficient and cost-effective operation?
What is digital transformation?
Digital transformation step 2: Secure buy-in
Once you have clarity on why digital transformation will matter for your company, it’s essential to get everyone else on board with your plan. Discuss the digital transformation process with key stakeholders to identify any issues and concerns from the start. Take time to listen and to help team members understand your purpose and goals. Let them know how digital transformation can help solve their problems rather than just creating new ones. And keep in mind that this is not a one-and-done step—securing and maintaining buy-in will require clear and ongoing communication throughout the process of digital transformation.
Digital transformation step 3: Establish key performance indicators (KPIs)
Once you have overarching goals and buy-in, you can set your KPIs—quantifiable measures of progress over time for specific objectives. This way you’ll know exactly what you’re working toward, and you’ll have a clear way to determine the success of your efforts. When you reach a certain date or milestone, or complete a project, you can use your KPIs to identify outcomes. Just make sure your KPIs are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-based. Rather than saying you want to boost operational efficiency, for example, one of your KPIs could be to improve operational efficiency by 25% in the next quarter.
Digital transformation step 4: Invest in the proper technology
It’s critical to choose your systems and technology wisely, ensuring that they’re right for your organization and that they will work for every department. Maybe you want to standardize common workflows, collaborate with clients, or share client data. You’ll need a system that can support the processes you’re optimizing and help you meet your goals. Your new technology should also boost employee productivity and the customer experience. Tip: Research similar companies that are farther along the path to digital transformation to discover whether the solutions you’re considering could work for your organization.
Digital transformation step 5: Take small steps
Rather than trying to rip and replace all your systems and processes at once, consider a phased approach. Select one process you’d like to overhaul and implement the technology to do so. Then, once you meet your KPIs for that process and use case, you can spread the technology across your process landscape. For example, you could pilot a new system within a single warehouse or factory, working out any bugs and highlighting improvements made before rolling out the system company-wide. This is a great way to keep your team energized and engaged with the digital transformation and to make continuous improvements without introducing overwhelming change.
Digital transformation takes time, patience and a willingness to make adjustments along the way. Commit to staying open and agile in adopting new strategies for a truly successful digital transformation.