Writings

5 Ways to Screw Up Your Digital Transformation

By:
Nicholas Lorenson

Is your legacy software buckling under the weight of your data? Digital tools are increasingly becoming inseparable from your business outcomes. Your company is either growing or dying, and data is its lifeblood. Though many organizations see the value of digital transformation, they too often inadvertently torpedo the process. 

Digital transformation is inherently disruptive. You are fundamentally changing your relationship with your data. Because most businesses have never even looked at their data from a holistic standpoint, it can feel radical to think about its strategic value. 

Digital transformation is like replacing the nervous system of your business – it’s a major overhaul. Your IT is no longer just a department that keeps the servers running, it’s fully integrated into how your business operates. With such a sweeping change, we see a lot of companies embark on digital transformation but stumble before the finish line. Disorganization, unclear objectives, or chasing perfection are the biggest culprits. 

Here are five ways that are guaranteed to cause your digital transformation to go sideways and how you can avoid them:

1) Skipping Data Management

How clean is your data? No seriously, have you been keeping up with good data management practices? If “the devil is in the details,” this is one area you don’t want to get burned. 

Data pipelines are the invisible plumbing that allows you to import records into a new system, and the quality of your new system relies on the integrity of the data imported. Without data integrity, seemingly simple stuff like changing a field during data migration becomes a nightmare.

You need a good inventory of what should move over to the new system. It’s like purging your belongings before moving to a new house – some stuff has to go. You may have superfluous data that you don’t need anymore. Those are just barnacles dragging your system down. 

Plus, that redundant data can wreak havoc during the import. One additional field doesn’t seem like a big deal, but if we’re talking about 10 million rows and adding a new field, that one change could have a major impact. 

2) Not Clarifying Business Outcomes

Many companies get wrapped up in recreating a version of the old system rather than reimagining everything from scratch. They mistakenly focus on how the old platform is failing them and what functional capabilities they want in a new one. But they don’t stop to ask why they need that process, and its corresponding data, in the first place.

Pinpoint the business outcome first. Don’t fixate on the steps. You have to first understand what your employees are trying to accomplish every day and where that aligns with your bottom line. Repeat after me: the objective is not the process.

Let’s say your team pulls a report every week. It doesn’t matter that it’s a 10-step process that frustrates everyone. Table that for now. What’s important is why does that report exist? What is its purpose? What key information does it contain? What decisions are made based on it? In essence – how does this report connect to your business outcomes? 

If you get bogged down in discussions about step-by-step processes, your new system will only reflect the inefficiencies of your old system. Even worse, you could put your digital transformation project at risk of becoming stagnant because the truly important details are being lost in the noise. Focus on the business outcome first, and then let your consultant create an efficient path in the new system to achieving it. 

3) Not Implementing Change Management

Because digital transformation is a fundamental change to your business, you need buy-in across the organization for true success. But change management isn’t just training – it actually starts with managing expectations. Your employees should have a level of confidence in the new system prior to even touching it. This results from being engaged and communicated with, prior to implementation.  

Change management starts with clearly and consistently communicating new expectations to everyone involved. It’s about giving employees advance notice, opportunities for input, and time to learn. 

In doing so, you minimize any surprises or shock when a team’s responsibilities and tools evolve. You’re reassuring them that a new system won’t make their life more difficult or cause even more headaches. Change management helps you show that you understand their jobs and are providing them with the best systems to get everything done. 

For example, enterprise resource planning (ERP) software touches 80% of your people. You may discover that someone in marketing is completing the same task as someone in accounting, either duplicating their efforts or undermining each other. So you decide to turn off permissions for one group. But by consulting both groups beforehand and showing how this switch benefits them, you squash any grumbling.  

4) Not Finding Your Cheerleaders

Who are your power users? You need to tap employees who are eager to champion the new system. Their buy-in will help counteract those who are skeptical or reluctant. Remember that digital transformation is not only a technology update, it’s a fundamental change to your processes. 

Think about the person who has been working in the same system for 25 years. They might resist having to let go of all the specialized knowledge they’ve invested in that old system, even if the system doesn’t serve them well anymore. Digital transformation without broad buy-in is a waste of time and resources. That’s where those early adopters can help pave the way for others to adapt.

5) Chasing Perfection

What is the point of a digital transformation if you never go live? No software project is truly ever “done.” Getting caught up seeking perfection means you’ll never get anywhere. You need to establish the fewest number of business outcomes required in the new system to turn out the lights on the old one. Make sure all the baseline needs are met, but then let future iterations add more nuanced capabilities. 

Software is about continuous improvement. It’s not possible to predict every single function you might need now or down the road. Because a system isn’t materially bound like a building, you can change a digital product at any time. Get to a solid launch point and then build from there.  This will also allow you to improve on previous iterations, ensuring that your system meets new needs as you grow, not just the needs defined when the project began.  

___________________________

Your company’s digital transformation can go wrong, which is why you need a partner that has been through it before. The CorrDyn team is here to help you get more value from your data and ensure the success of your enterprise software implementation. We help you make the right strategic technology decisions now so that you don’t have the regrets (and the re-work) later.