Successful Digital Transformation Takes Planning, Training and Transparency

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Aug 14, 2019

We come across the topic of digital transformation or digitalization in countless conferences and professional articles. Hopefully, no one needs an explanation nowadays about the importance of this subject. Gartner’s 2018 Digital Dexterity at Work survey revealed that 90% of corporate leaders’ top priorities can only be achieved with the help of technology.

Many believe that by simply hiring younger employees (Gen Y & Z) who are digital natives, organization’s can achieve their technology goals. However, the Gartner survey showed that’s not necessarily so; fewer than 1 in 10 employees possess the level of digital know-how necessary to substantially help companies achieve their goal of transforming into a fully (or nearly so) digital organization.

Still, it’s essential that organizations digitize. And human resources, one of the most paperwork and compliance driven functions, should be in the forefront. If you are planning a digital transformation project, there are several steps to follow and challenges to meet.

Prepare the basics

Digital transformation is not a project you will come up with on Monday and launch on Wednesday. It requires a lot of prep work in order to be effective and successful, No need to be intimidated because of the technology; at the end of the day, it is just another project.

Assign a project manager. Map the actual situation in the organization. Involve the leaders of affected areas and those who might be affected. Take the time to discuss the project with all stakeholders and consult with other departments and units that have gone through the process. Learn from their mistakes and apply their successful solutions. Involve the C-suite and be sure you have buy in from the CEO

Deal with your data

Frequently discussed, but at least as often ignored or not well executed, the nature and quality of your data can turn even a simple digitalization project into a nightmare. What is the data that’s to be part of your project? How clean is it? Answering that last question will involve your IT group or vendor.

If your transformation project is to be done in steps as most are, then review all the data you eventually intend to include. You also need to decide what you’ll collect and measure going forward. Make it your first step to defining well ahead what you wish, what you want and what data you expect to collect and use in the future.

Many skip this phase and remember late that, oops, this should have been done. Don’t make this mistake.

Communicate and then communicate some more

“Digital transformation? Does that have something to do with robots? Will artificial intelligence replace me in my job?” They may not express it that way, but you can be sure job security is a concern.

In too many cases, digital transformation projects fail due to the opposition of employees.

Some employee may resist learning new techniques or they may be uncomfortable with smart technology. Most of them will wonder if digitalization will mean the loss of their job. Therefore, communicating with them early and regularly is of paramount importance. You’ll need to reassure them, explaining the program so they understand what this is all about and what you hope to achieve. Don’t let them keep guessing about it on their own. Be clear and transparent.

Begin training early

The contents of the training and how it is conducted is crucial. There really is no such thing as an “average” employee, so take into account that not everyone is starting on the same level.

The digital natives won’t need to start in the same place as your less technologically sophisticated workers. Differentiate among these groups based on their level of skill and familiarity or some other relevant criterion in order to provide as much of a customized training solution as possible.

How you train is also important. Gamification has proven to be a useful training tool and likely to be embraced by your millennials and Gen Y employees. Others may need a combination of step-by-step instruction and mentoring or occasional coaching.

In some situations the path of least resistance may be to insist on flexible alternatives from your vendor. If some of your employees are more comfortable with a desktop app, have the vendor provide one, rather than insisting everyone use a mobile app.

Pace the training

One important reason to start training early is that you can pace it. Splitting that 250-page manual into small bites makes training manageable, improves comprehension and is much less intimidating. By breaking your training into sections and topics and allowing workers to master each before they move on, gives them a sense of accomplishment. Recognizing them encourages them to keep at it. Make the entire process and your expectations clear and transparent. This will boost internal motivation in your learners.

Work with the right partners

There is no universal solution for digital transformation. There are similar cases, recurring needs and similar solutions, however, digital transformation, as a whole project, will be a unique and crucial stage in the life of every company. Look for providers in the market who have experience and won’t use your organization for experiments. Vet them carefully and completing, then work with them honestly and transparently.