B is for Business

The ABCs of Digital Business Transformation

When it comes to digital business transformation (DBT), why do some organizations succeed and others fail?

We explored this question at length in The Journey Towards Digital Transformation, the latest white paper published by Elite Program Management (EPM). Since then, business leaders have been reaching out to learn more. Their inquiries usually focus on three main themes:

  • Aligning DBT with an organization’s strategic vision 
  • Business change enablement
  • Complex technology integration

This blog is the second in a series that highlights the ABCs of digital business transformation. 

B is for Business

Business change enablement drives successful DBT

By Waseem Sinjakli

Effective public speaking and the ability to influence positive outcomes hinge greatly on knowing your audience and tailoring your messages appropriately. DBT is no different. Organizations have unique cultures and varying business models. That’s why it’s critical to align DBT initiatives with a delivery approach and communications strategy that keeps this in mind. 

Integrating new technologies to solve traditional business problems through innovation, disruption and creativity is at the heart of DBT. But changing business processes to become more resilient and efficient also requires a great degree of alignment, relevant communication and stakeholder management. These are among the business change enablers that help organizations to stay on course.

At EPM, we have seen our clients thrive and achieve transformative goals by undertaking a comprehensive change impact and stakeholder assessment at the outset. This is the cornerstone for paving the way to DBT success. It’s an important first step that provides invaluable input for customizing communication, training strategies and plans. This helps to ensure continued engagement and contribution from employees. Without these considerations, DBT initiatives face a significant risk of veering in the wrong direction.  

Effective stakeholder management from end to end is critical to accelerate DBT goals and realize value and business outcomes. Most organizations understand that no matter how powerful and popular new technology is, it proves ineffective without the support, engagement and buy-in of the teams and stakeholders who will benefit from it – like a precision Formula 1 car without a driver, you won’t get far.

Have you positioned your DBT road map for accelerated adoption? Here are key ways to better engage your business, manage stakeholders and communicate effectively:

1. Engage employees – they drive the business success

Effective engagement of employees, continued solicitation of feedback, building trust and collaboration will undoubtedly accelerate adoption. Including these components in your DBT plan will enable positive transformational outcomes.  

Employees are the true assets of every organization; they make things happen and are the ultimate custodians of change. Ineffective employee engagement can lead to sub-optimal results and lack of change adoption.

2. Start with a small group

Typically, leaders launch transformational efforts with a large kick off. This is an effective way to build momentum from the outset by communicating objectives clearly. However, this assumes consensus already exists around the initiative. Yet if the desired change is truly transformational, it is likely to encounter a significant amount of opposition. 

Start with a small representative group to strategize, formulate initial key messages and pave the path to engage the wider audience. After this process is complete, you can then scale up organizationally. 

3. Diversify your communication channels

When deciding the most appropriate communication methods, consider all of the possible outcomes. For example, some employees may not read all of their emails or may miss emails in their inbox. To ensure that everyone gets the message and is committed to being a part of the DBT journey, it’s best to use various communication channels. This could include e-mails, presentations, company intranet, town halls, department and group meetings to deliver key messages and convey progress. 

4. Ensure stakeholder buy-in to increase your chances of success

If you engage with your stakeholders early on and frequently, you’ll have a much better chance of helping them understand what it is you’re hoping to achieve. It will also help you understand their concerns, see where they’re coming from and ultimately flesh out key risks and mitigate them proactively. This, in turn, will enable you to pitch your digital transformation plan in the most favourable light for your audience.

The world of DBT is not a straightforward one by any stretch. It is dynamic and can be turbulent, as some in the organization will not favour the change. In reality, you will likely encounter the following three common scenarios:

  1. Employees who have bought into the journey, see the value and are highly motivated to realize long-lasting change
  2. Employees who are sitting on the fence and buying time to see if the change is real, so they can decide down the road whether to rally behind it or not
  3. Employees who are disengaged and not incentivized to see the change succeed, as they are more comfortable with the traditional methods and old ways of doing business

Consider the following to achieve lower levels of resistance, obtain higher levels of support, and maximize success:

  • Involve key employees and stakeholders in the planning and execution phases
  • Have a solid Organizational Change Management (OCM) plan to address resistance 
  • Create effective sponsorship and governance structure

5. Identify your influencers and champions of change at the start – everyone plays a role in change

It is true that no matter how good and detailed your planning is, there will inevitably be bumps along the way. If you can demonstrate that you are prepared for eventualities, then you will be able to navigate through the roadblocks and maximize your probability of getting to the finish line.  

Identifying your influencers and champions of change, along with collaborative problem solving, plays an instrumental role in the DBT process. The more people you have on your side with a greater understanding of your new digital means and capacity, the more minds there will be to tackle these challenges when they arise. Build those relationships, coach and mentor your workforce, and maintain clear communication with all parties along the way. 

6. The critical piece: Combat fear with proper OCM

One of the most critical and often overlooked aspects of DBT is change management. Successful transformation focuses on managing the change from start to finish. Start by understanding your stakeholders and conducting a comprehensive change impact and stakeholder assessment to set the stage for the necessary communications, training and level of involvement that will best align with the needs of the various groups. It is vitally important to engage key influencers throughout the DBT process. This helps to capture input, validate the direction, and leverage their influence, which will channel positive communications throughout your organization. 

Change management will propel your program or project beyond technical success and into a truly transformative initiative, particularly for more complex transformations. Embedding proper change management activities throughout the course of the planning and implementation will help keep your key team in sync with the broader user base and its business needs. This will help your team communicate and train more effectively, ultimately maximizing the likelihood of adoption and realization of value.

Generally, people can struggle with change if the following questions go unanswered: 

  • Why is the change taking place (strategic vision, business outcomes and objectives)?
  • What changes will be taking place (business processes and supporting systems)?
  • How will those changes be implemented (impact on the operational roles and responsibilities)?

Proper planning and execution of an OCM strategy, stakeholder engagement – plus a robust and tailored communication and training plan – will go a long way and help you realize the transformational objectives that you set out to achieve. 

When you embark on a DBT journey, it’s important to start in the right direction: Secure the “precision Formula 1 car” and the team, get the driver in the driver’s seat, set your course and you will enable DBT success in unimaginable ways. 

Watch for the next blog in this series: C is for Complex.

Are you planning to embark on a DBT journey? Contact us at info@eliteprogrammanagement.com for a more in-depth discussion related to your business.

Waseem Sinjakli is the founder and Managing Director of Elite Program Management.

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