Making Digital Transformations Work

Stephanie Bell
By: Stephanie Bell
Date: March 03, 2020

digital transformationReady or not – the digital age has arrived. Businesses across all industries are humming with the possibilities of transformations that allow improved speed and the ability to do more with less. But sadly, these efforts can seem abrupt, arbitrary, and without clear leadership driving the change. Digital transformation requires leaders to rethink not only how work is organized and managed, but also how to transform in a way that is smooth, intentional, and supported by leadership.

How can you increase the chances of success in a digital transformation effort? A focused organizational change management program, integrated with and aligned to the implementation timeline, is a leading factor in the success of any change initiative. In fact, Prosci® research finds organizations that take a deliberate approach to change management are six times more likely to experience project success. Below are three organizational change management tips to make your digital transformation successful.

Establish a business process context

Digital transformation is different in that data is moving to the cloud in multiple ways.  With this type of transformation, the business process context around what people see on their screens, where they click, and why, is more important than ever. While you are building your digital transformation strategy, it is essential to understand how everything gets done outside the system.  It requires making the connections between business processes and systems to yield the desired changes.

Leading practice: Answer the question, “What is changing?” Digital transformation conjures questions and creates the opportunity for greater efficiency, not just automating existing processes. Think about the activities which happen outside the system and link them to the “points and clicks” to provide the proper context for people before training begins. Addressing business process changes and setting expectations before training allows people to focus on the points and clicks during training, without distraction or surprises.

Manage perception

When there is a lack of visible leadership in support of a digital transformation, it fosters a lack of confidence throughout the organization. Having active and visible leadership at all levels, from individual contributors to the senior leadership team, reinforces the importance of your digital transformation. The more people perceive the effort as well-led, managed, and communicated, the more likely they are to support the change before, during, and after go-live.

Leading practice: Perception is driven by leaders championing the cause. Engage leaders and key influencers in your organization as early as possible to participate in communication events, which will clearly showcase the structure and purpose of the project and the commitment of leadership at all levels right from the start.

Manage timelines and expectations

Aggressive timelines are the norm these days, but a quick go-live must consider the change your people will experience. While accelerated deployment can help you achieve your business results faster, it can also mean increased worry and stress for employees, negatively impacting their perceptions of change. Ensuring OCM activities are tightly integrated into your project timeline, including two-way communication channels for delivering messages and receiving feedback, can help your digital effort be six times more likely to succeed.

Leading practice: When creating or revising your timeline, consider the following OCM elements of success: active and visible leadership, early involvement of business experts to make business process decisions, clear communication about what’s changing, and providing enough time for training after user acceptance testing.

Digitalization creates more opportunities for organizations than ever before, but also requires a more focused approach to support a smooth implementation and long-term adoption. Effective management of business process context, perception, timelines, and expectations are key to driving effective change and realizing the desired business results.  Successful organizations prioritize balancing the digitization project with the needs of their/employees. Organizational change management offers an opportunity to increase the odds of success for your digital transformation effort.  What are you doing to stack the deck in your favor?

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