Tag Archives: Technology Planning

Digital Transformation

Digital Transformation:  Seek Company-Wide Commitment

Virtually all organizations are striving to be more digitally enabled. As with anything, a small minority are true leaders, some are pitiful laggards, and most are somewhere in the middle.

Digital TransformationThe digital leaders have woven digital elements into virtually every aspect of their organizations, not merely in their Web presence. Elements such as integrated call centers, connected sales reps, and seamless customer experiences are all indications of digital savviness.

If your firm is on the wrong end of the bell curve when it comes to digital integration, you are probably experiencing some form of “digital envy”.   While serious, this condition is treatable given a firm commitment to widespread change.  In short – you need a “digital transformation”.

Here are a few actions you can take to initiate a digital transformation at your firm:

  1. Point to the competition:  Do a competitive site analysis that shows your competition is beating you.
  2. Obtain customer feedback:  Nothing speaks louder to c-suite management than the views of top customers.  Some pointed comments from key customers can be very impactful.  This can be very powerful.
  3. Point out some glaring problems.  Should not be too hard to do.  If you are feeling bold, as some key executives if they are proud of various functions.  Don’t just point out the problems.  Have a solution in place.  (See #4)
  4. Create a high-level plan: Explain of how the digital-transformation could work including theoretical timelines, expenses, resource allocations, etc.
  5. Recruit some influential change agents:  These key individuals will help you “fight the fight”.  You can’t fly solo on this.  Think CMO, key sales team executives, CIO etc.  Feel free to share the customer feedback as you are recruiting support.

If you take these few steps (simple, not easy) you probably have a “ticket to admission” to have an initial conversation with executive management.  Don’t expect rapid success.  Change is hard, and requires that your key leadership get out of their comfort zone.  Your job is to raise their collective consciousness.  Be aware, they are likely to resist at first.  Remember – it is a digital transformation.  Not a digital “overnight makeover”.

Be patient and keep chipping away.  You will get there.

Digital Project Planning: Beware The “Magic Wand” Syndrome

The “Technology Challenged” Often Think The Technology Itself Can Make Up For Poor Project PlanningDigital Magic Wand - you still need proper project planning

There is a fairly prevalent situation that occurs in which technology savvy team members are asked to transform a half-baked idea/concept into some digital solution.  Unfortunately the non-technology folks are under the false impression that the technology itself (like a magic wand) will correct poor planning, faulty assumptions/bad logic etc.  This can cause strife and lead to friction among team members.

How do you combat this problem?   There are a few simple things you can do that help minimize (not prevent) this from occurring:

  • Require that a “project sponsor” be assigned to the business side of the project.

It is key that the project has one main sponsor who is the lead and has overall responsibility for project success.  If one is not evident, ask that one be appointed before moving forward.  The sponsor is vital because you will need a “go to” person for various circumstances and without one lead you are subjected to group decision-making which is ill-advised.

  • Start the project planning process with a “concepts discussion” meeting with project sponsor.

Prior to the formal requirements gathering, it is beneficial to get an “elevator pitch” from the sponsor that basically answers the question “what are we trying to do here?”. It is surprising how often the sponsor cannot clearly put into words the concepts of what they are looking to accomplish.  If the sponsor can’t do this – the project is doomed from the start.  Send them back to think it through and schedule another meeting when their thoughts have matured.

  • Ask the project sponsor many questions up front (in writing if possible).

This may sound quite obvious, but it is surprising how often this does not happen.  It is a crucial error to “get started” on a project without complete understanding of the requirements/framework.  Make sure the sponsor understands that pre-planning is necessary and the project will not start until sufficient background information is obtained.What you are seeking is a commitment on the part of the project sponsor to provide adequate background prior to starting the project.  Just like you wouldn’t ask a builder to start work on your dream house without plans – same applies here.

Here are a few starter questions:

Who is going to be using this digital tool?  How will they access/find it? What do you expect them to accomplish by using it?  (If dynamic, who is going to be responsible for maintaining the data that feeds it?

  • Don’t fall into the trap of estimating timelines too early.

Eager project sponsors will try to solicit a time commitment for the project, well before the requirements gathering is in full swing.  If asked for a completion date before the requirements are complete, there is a very simple answer to the inevitable question “When will it be done?” The proper response “I cannot tell you when until we know “what” it is and “how” we will build it.

While you cannot immunize your team from getting involved in misdirected projects, proper due-diligence on the font end can help minimize the number of times you have to re-group and restart the project.

Proper project planning prevents poor performance!