From reduced costs to improved customer experience to better sales conversions and use of team resources, the benefits of streamlined digital systems are obvious to most - so why is it so often overlooked?
This week, GO! invited five experts in digital transformation to share what they’ve learned about getting enterprise-level digital transformation projects right the first time, the common pitfalls, and the key to success.
This article is comprised of key learnings from our virtual workshop for marketing, sales and business team leads with larger digital requirements, ‘Upgrading your Digital Systems - Finding the Right Strategy for you.’ Join an upcoming session here.
There are many reasons businesses feel like they need to upgrade their digital systems.
From outdated tech, new legislation, or a culture of doing things ‘the traditional way,’ a lot of businesses are some way off reaching optimum digitization to bring their processes up to par.
As with any transformation effort, the project needs to start with an understanding of your business needs.
It might sound obvious, but Nadine Clarke, Product Experience Partner at Tangent advises that the first step for upgrading your digital systems is to ‘identify which systems are working for you, and the ones that you are not getting full value for.’
Nadine goes on to say that you need to know what you want to achieve as a business. ‘Gather the requirements from people who the project is going to effect, whether it’s HR or Sales. What do they need?’
At the heart of a digital transformation project is the desire to ‘do things easier.’ By identifying your current pain points, you’ll be able to focus your project.
Andy Nicol, Head of Digital Strategy at Sputnik gave an example of where one client’s pain point was needing to double their workforce. ‘We’re going, why don’t you just optimise? You can use digital systems to do things more efficiently. You can do a lot of things that mean you won’t need to hire hundreds of new salespeople.’
When upgrading your digital systems, one of the main reasons a project is likely to fail is not the system itself, or the budget – it’s the people delivering the project. Having buy-in across the full business is key for success, but it doesn’t happen overnight.
‘Don’t alienate people. Make in-house teams feel like they are part of the project.
Some people don’t find change exciting, do you need to keep everyone engaged?’
As Nadine points out, people can very often associate digital transformation projects as very costly.
‘It’s like a house renovation. You start pulling things off and then realise there’s something else you want to fix.’
So how do you keep everything under control, and stop costs from spiralling? Her advice – ‘Align your objectives around what you want to achieve.’
Like most projects, it’s easier to keep it all under control if you prioritise what is most important to you.
‘Most companies prioritise wanting to save money, so the “nice to haves” come later in the day.’
The importance of prioritisation is emphasised by Nadine. ‘You will want to grow and scale the project, but the more you add, the more time it will take and added costs will come with that.
Think about what will have the biggest impact from the lowest effort and build it up from there. You can also choose to have a phased approach, i.e., you don’t have to implement everything at once.’
Like any change management initiative, people run into common challenges when upgrading their digital systems. For example, one mistake to avoid is choosing the technology first.
Bigger clients will do this as its own product. Once you’ve got a requirement document and list, you can then start to mark things off against it, such as technology.’
The importance of discovery is emphasised by Brant. ‘You need to have a clear definition of what you want to achieve. The discovery phase is important for the brand, for the engineering and for the look and feel.
Lots of agencies charge for this discovery phase. Software engineering can be a drain on resources because projects can easily overrun, and things happen that can’t be predicted. If you get the discovery piece done initially, you then have the option to shop around for a better price.”
Many companies will already have digital systems in place, ones that have been with the business from the very beginning. In this instance, we wanted to know if there was a balance between updating your current systems or starting entirely from scratch.
Andy explains that ‘most people have legacy systems. The modern approach is to be lightweight and interconnected. Generally speaking, there is always a way with legacy systems. You can do it bit by bit.’
As you begin to upgrade or develop new digital systems, it’s important to be able to put a measure on whether it’s working. Here are three pieces advice our panel have for doing this:
Due to the nature of the tasks, most businesses will not have a department focussed wholly on your digital systems. These systems are usually managed across several teams, with use throughout the entire business.
So, when it comes to upgrading these systems, what is the balance between external verses internal support?
‘It needs to be project managed from both sides,’ says Ben. ‘An internal team doesn’t need the technical knowhow, as long as the system is getting them where they need to be.
We have worked with clients who have created in-house engineering teams to oversee the project, but they don’t tend to have enough work to keep them going.
Agencies do this sort of work, day-in, day-out across multiple projects. We’ve seen all the challenges and roadblocks, and we know how to solve them. What you might see as a major headache can be a quick win to us.'
For Nadine, it’s all about being able to work with someone you trust and ‘will challenge your thinking, who won’t always tell you what you want to hear. Agencies can be your guide and make the decisions that you might not want to take.’
‘Forget the software. Choose a partnership that you will get on with and trust rather than one who will just build you a site,’ says Ben.
Before finalising your project with a board or set of stakeholders, make sure you know the answers to each of the below:
If you're looking for external support on a Digital Transformation project or need independent advice on where to start, GO!'s cost-free agency recommendation, qualification and appointment can connect you with the right people.
Get in touch here for an initial conversation.