The statistics are staggering. Only 1 in 4 transformation projects are considered successful. While companies invest millions of dollars in modernizing their businesses to keep up with their competitors or stay ahead of the market, only 25% of these projects get the stamp of approval. In professional sports, a .250 winning percentage would get most coaches fired. Professional basketball players need to hit 85% of their free throws to be considered good shooters, and professional quarterbacks are expected to complete at least 50% of their passes. So then why are businesses accepting a 25% success rate on business transformation after spending millions of dollars? Shouldn’t expectations be higher? The answer is obviously yes so then what is driving the low success rate?

Equipping Organizations with the Right Business Transformation Tools

A couple of factors may be at the root of the low success rate.  First, as organizations prepare for transformation projects, the focus tends to zero in on selecting the right tools or technologies to improve. While choosing the right tools for your organization is essential, it is equally important to have the right playbook in place to properly deploy these tools.  Your organization needs to be quick to adopt so it can rapidly see success once these tools are deployed.  Without strong organizational buy-in, a transformation initiative will likely fail.

Secondly, organizations have a propensity to minimize costs, often cutting out vital steps in the transformation journey, including:

The decision to cut the soft skills poses a huge threat to the success of the transformation initiative as UX, OCM, and business readiness best prepare the organization to accept the transformational change.

Strategies for Digital Transformation Success

No matter how dynamic or robust, no tool in and of itself is going to solve the transformation puzzle for your organization. As a result, the organization must pair these new tools with the correct set of strategies to prepare for their transformation journey, such as:

  1. Preparing for pricing pushback
  2. Creating a strategic roadmap
  3. Taking a user-centric approach
  4. Enacting effective change management
  5. Preparing the business

Preparing for pricing pushback

Start with the understanding that transformation projects are expensive. Whatever you think the budget should be, double it. While it probably wouldn’t be double, having a large figure in your head avoids the sticker shock when purchasing and configuring the new tools. Additionally, the overestimation allows your team to include the proper professional services, which will enable your success.

Creating a strategic roadmap 

Transformation projects will not accomplish the intended goals without a clear map of how to get there. Your team should take the time to dig into each area of your business and document how your employees are using systems today. By identifying the existing pain points and soliciting your employees’ opinions and ideas, you can start determining which changes will improve their day-to-day.

You may think you need a new CRM or ERP, but you may only need to create better data integration amongst your systems. Why throw the baby out with the bathwater? The roadmap discovery process will get to the bottom of what’s what.

Taking a user-centric approach

Use your transformation project as an opportunity to make any adjustments to both internal and external experiences. Your “Users” include both the paying customers and the internal stakeholders (i.e., employees, contractors, partners), so it’s important to think of the user experience from different angles. Take the time to gather feedback from the paying customer, and then map out the various customer journeys, considering the following:

  • How do they engage with you?
  • What issues do they face when dealing with you?
  • What do they think about the value you provide them?
  • Are there other things they would like from you that you might be able to provide?

Additionally, don’t forget to engage your front-line workers, who have likely configured work-arounds to the system to suit their needs better. If the way the system was designed isn’t serving the front-line workers as it should, your transformation efforts should take this feedback as part of your future-state necessities.

Enacting effective change management

As you approach your transformation project, it’s important to remember the people who make up your organization. When introducing change, your people will have opinions, feelings, and pushback, making it essential to canvas the team and address what they feel before, during, and after the change occurs. If your organization doesn’t address employee sentiment and incorporate feedback, there will be a lack of buy-in, negatively impacting productivity. As a result, it’s important to bring your employees along for the ride and not simply send a series of emails explaining that change is on the horizon. To do this well, you must have a solid change management plan that includes:

  • Communicating early and often about the vision and reason for the change while also gauging organizational buy-in and identifying areas of resistance
  • Implementing interactive ways to learn and developing a solid training plan that considers how your employees like to learn and what is convenient for them, including features like in-app help
  • Building a team of evangelists in each of your departments by identifying your organization’s influencers, giving them the inside scoop, and empowering them to collect candid feedback on the sentiments, concerns, and joys from their team

Preparing the Business

There’s a natural balance between business and technology teams that transformation initiatives can put stress on. Your front-line workers and their managers possess critical knowledge that will be the key to your success. More than just providing the initial business requirements, the various stakeholders must be engaged throughout the development lifecycle and provide feedback along the way.  They can help determine if the screen layouts make sense, the tool is intuitive or clunky, and identifying features that aren’t working correctly.

During this feedback loop, avoid stressors by adopting Agile practices and educating your team on Agile frameworks. Additionally, select a group to observe the team cross-functionally to make sure the members are working together effectively. This group, also known as a business readiness team, will:

  • record build vs. leave-behind functionality
  • communicate functional differences between the old and new processes
  • work with cross-functional teams to develop any necessary mitigation plans
  • validate the necessary testing plans are put in place
  • run your war room once the time has come for your data conversion

Additionally, the business readiness team works with your business stakeholders to identify your current state KPIs and set the foundation for measuring those in your future mode of operation.

Looking Forward in the Future of Business Transformation

Each of these soft skills plays a significant role in business transformation success. Your business’s survival in this digital age will require the proper navigation through modern systems, applications, and business processes and relies on the desire to change and adapt to new ways of working. Yet, transforming your business won’t be easy and requires a big investment, which is complicated by the soft skills critical to transformation success. Have you cut too many of these soft skills from the scope of our Transformation program? To answer this question and dive deeper into business transformation success, download our latest eBook, the New Order of Business.

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