Start your digital transformation.

How do you keep you and your digital plans relevant to your organisation? This was a question that came up recently in a digital transformation workshop and led me to do some thinking that I’d like to share with you.

It's easy for digital people to be pigeonholed as 'the web team' or the person who 'looks after social', and slipped into the back office. As digital plays such a crucial role in customer experiences these days, digital roles should be front and centre.

So how do you move digital from back to front office and take the rest of the organisation with you?

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Six ways to connect your digital approach with your organisation

1. Get intimate with your company strategy

To be relevant, you need to align your intent and programme of work to the strategic problems facing your organisation, and you can't do that without knowing your strategy. Most companies will have a good strategic document you can reference, but you may also need to supplement that with some conversations with senior management - even the CEO if they can be accessed.

What are the top three or five challenges facing the organisation? Once you know them, you can begin to understand how digital could play it part in helping solving these issues.

2. Match your approach to digital with your organisational culture

Identify successful projects (not necessarily digital) from your organisation and dissect them.

  • Why did they succeed?

  • What were the key factors?

Plan your digital approach to mirror these projects.

3. Agree a strong intent statement

Give yourself and your team permission to move forward by detailing and agreeing a strong intent statement with your boss and senior management. Your intent statement should detail why digital is relevant within the overall business context, how it will integrate with other parts of the organisation, focus your activity and be clear what the results will look like.

It's too easy to jump to solutions and not anchor your digital development with the context it needs.

4. Use clear language

Avoid digital jargon and three letter acronyms. Wherever possible use your organisation’s own language, and only introduce new terminology when there's no other option.

Sketching things out can also help simplify - remember a picture speaks a thousand words. Simple diagrams are a great way to illustrate integrated elements, dependencies and flow towards an end goal.

5. Engage your stakeholders

It’s hard to drive digital change without organisational change, so you're going to need to take the organisation along with you.

Expect issues to arise and remember problems can be a good thing. It’s when they don’t surface during the planning process that they can become a real problem.

First identify your stakeholders in the organisation, for example, senior managers, detractors (those you’ll need to keep close by talking and understanding their concerns), influencers, those likely to be affected by any changes, and also champions who you think will support your activities and help win others over.

Ahead of any stakeholder discussions or workshops, make sure you've done your homework in terms of situation analysis, organisational strategy, customer and user insights. Supporting data will be your friend through these conversations.

Workshops are a great way to expose ideas and needs, identify challenges and understand risks and opportunities. Structure your sessions to unlock that knowledge and go mad with the post it notes. Capture everything and then share it back to the wider group.

Have regular check-ins with your stakeholder groups, set a clear timeline and stick to it. Expect issues to arise and remember problems can be a good thing. It’s when they don’t surface during the planning process that they can become a real problem.

You'll need to build a buffer into your timeline to work through those issues – a specific presentation to stakeholders or a one-pager may be needed to address the problem and ensure everyone is clear why a decision is being made and what the solution will look like. If you ignore these issues they almost always come back to bite you at a later date.

6. Prove it by doing it

Legacy infrastructure can be a barrier for digital progress (far too often), but there's nearly always a way of doing a simple test. Google Adwords is a great testing ground, or you could try a website optimiser (we use Optimizely) to test different variants.

Benchmark performance to start with and then A/B test your theories - try multiple variants until you hit a winner. If you've proved it can work it's so much easier to get acceptance through the organisation - success is hard to argue against and before you know it you'll start small waves of change. 

Wrap up

Digital is now such an integral part of an organisation and its customer experiences - B2B or B2C. So even if your particular organisation hasn't fully taken that on board yet, it’s not too late to stage a digital transformation.

You owe it to yourself and your organisation to stay relevant and strategically connected. If you're not already ahead of the curve, work on these six focus areas and start the journey onwards and upwards.

Original blog post written for NZTE 2014 and updated


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