The #1 thing to prioritise if you want your digital transformation to succeed

The fourth industrial revolution is upon us, and digital transformation is all but inevitable for most businesses. That’s why investing in the right technology—with the right solutions partner—is essential. But after you make that decision, what should be your number one priority to ensure your success? By Steve Murphy and Andy Coussins, CEO and SVP Sales explain.

With 50 years of combined experience in technology, we’ve learned that the most integral part of a successful implementation strategy is a solid change management plan. But putting a change management plan together can be challenging for a few reasons.

Unfortunately, many business leaders are stuck between the desire to be at the cutting edge of technology and concerned that adopting too early means they might get it wrong. A recent report from Deloitte on Industry 4.0 readiness highlights paralysis due to fear of making the wrong decision. They found that leaders say they have too many options to choose from and sometimes they lack strategic vision to guide their efforts.

Contributing to the challenge, the report reveals, “Organisational influences also challenge leaders as they seek to navigate Industry 4.0. Many leaders reported their companies don’t follow clearly defined decision-making processes—and that organisational silos limit their ability to develop and share knowledge to determine effective strategies.” This is a serious concern, because implementing new software on top of sub-optimal processes complicates the work.

No matter the scope of the change, there are five guiding principles that can help you develop and execute your strategy, from doing the necessary groundwork to go-live.

Make sure you get the most out of your tech investment by creating a change management plan with these guiding principles.

1. Be realistic and well-paced

The key to getting digital transformation right is to assess and prioritise realistically. Automation doesn’t happen automatically. By definition, transformation is a thorough or dramatic change. Recognise that it’s a marathon, not a sprint, and you need to establish a long-term, phased approach. Determine what needs to be automated and why and be mindful that existing efficient processes can be considered in a later phase. The idea is to not rush or make changes just for the sake of change.

2. Lead with a unified vision

After you realistically assess your priorities, it’s time to plan the procurement and implementation process. To successfully manage this change, your company mindset must be unified and fuelled by the full support of your executive leadership team. Their support of your vision and goals can also inspire support from other key stakeholders. You need different levels of leadership buy-in as you take steps toward digital transformation. When bringing stakeholders on board from departments that will experience changes, make sure they have a clear understanding about the plan and expected results. Preparation and planning before the roll-out is an important part of change management.

Also be ready to address three common concerns:

  1. Scope of the project
  2. Cost
  3. Resources

If you experience resistance with leaders who express concern about the project’s large scope or difficulty, describe how your plan breaks it down into actionable steps with realistic goals. Emphasise how you’re prepared to gather constant feedback.

For cost concerns, own the fact that it will be expensive, but explain that in the long-term, the investment will pay for itself. Also describe how there are dangers of becoming obsolete if you don’t embrace change. You don’t want to play catch-up with your competitors and lose valuable business.

If resources are a concern, educate your stakeholders on how implementation will be managed and how it can be a balancing act. Use the expertise and experience of your current employees and bring in new talent to fill gaps. This can be a phased process—and an exciting time of professional growth and opportunity for everyone on the team.

3. Communicate openly

It’s important for employees to feel like they’re part of the process and understand expectations. Open communication is essential for successful change management, and it’s the foundation of your implementation plan. Have leaders issue regular internal communication, attend department meetings, and host webinars and town halls. During these efforts, include opportunities for employees to raise questions or concerns and share their feedback and expertise. Leaders can promptly address questions and can also use feedback gained from these interactions to influence additional resources for employees. By involving employees in the process and inviting expertise, you’re more likely to avoid pitfalls down the road.

4. Commit to ongoing training and support

Employees need a solid grasp on how the new technology impacts their work. Comprehensive training and ongoing support is essential to your digital transformation success. Your goal is to make the information easy to digest and retain. Break training down into bite-sized sessions. Provide a variety of training materials for different learning styles including hard copy manuals, online demos, videos and even step-by-step animated guides.

5. Conduct continuous assessments

Many leaders falsely believe that go-live is the finish line in the process, but it’s just the start. At this point, you accomplished implementation—something to be proud of—but the hard work is far from over. For true, ongoing success, you need to continuously conduct reviews and assessments. Ask tough questions. Is the technology being fully utilised? Are there training gaps? What’s the data telling you? Analyse it to help improve future business growth.

To get a full 360-degree view, you’ll certainly need internal, company-wide feedback from all levels of leadership, but also look externally. Gathering feedback from customers on their experience with your business can be particularly insightful and can speak to the long-term value of digital transformation.

By prioritising a change management strategy that features these guiding principles, you can effectively bring your whole business along on your digital transformation journey.

Remember that a clear implementation strategy coupled with a pragmatic change management strategy helps your business fully realise the value of technology, giving you the potential for stronger ROI and user acceptance. And when digital transformation feels overwhelming, never lose sight of why you’re making technology investments. Be purposeful, think long term, and stick to thoughtful strategies. Then, the odds of your success are high.

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