Originally published by Information Management.

Digital transformation, or DX, is everywhere—from hospitality to retail to the enterprise. But because technology implementation moves quickly, it’s no secret that speed is the currency for companies undergoing digital transformation.

In actuality, moving business operations to more digital and user-savvy functionality is much easier said than done. So, without getting lost in the process, how exactly can companies execute this transformation swiftly and successfully?

Companies should consider the following best practices when looking to implement a successful and speedy organization-wide strategy:

team of engaged people working together

1. Engage people from the beginning

Digital transformation is about people, data and technology. The people factor, if overlooked, can be dooming for a DX strategy. Businesses need to excite and inform their employees about these objectives by including them from the start.

As a natural driver of cultural change, digital transformation stands to impact not only the way a business operates, but also the way the business thinks about operations. It requires a culture that is open to change and continuous improvement.

First and foremost, companies must work with employees to connect them with tools that foster productivity and a collaboration platform that enables efficient communications. This keeps projects on pace by enabling employees to leverage the power of their combined knowledge to increase productivity.

Another way to improve productivity is by automating processes where possible to relieve some of employees’ workloads. This will give them more bandwidth to spend time doing meaningful work, such as collaborating with colleagues and interfacing with customers.

Organizations enacting these kinds of changes will have higher chances of success if they make the effort to involve employees from the get-go and clearly communicate how the changes stand to improve day-to-day work.

team aligning on goals and objectives

2. Align on objectives and establish clear goals

This is a consideration not talked about in the industry nearly enough. It’s easy for this step to slip through the cracks, but it’s essential for teams to establish a baseline and determine what they’re hoping to accomplish with their DX initiatives.

Companies that have an agreed upon answer to the question, “what is the end goal?” will have a strong foundation for determining focused next steps. Identifying the end goal helps companies prioritize their projects and next steps, which subsequently informs the roadmap they will use to track their projects.

It is also helpful for keeping individual teams on track throughout their projects by serving as a reference point to remind them of what their project should ultimately achieve. Is it about customer success, or partner enablement? By doing this up-front, companies will have less internal friction, which in turn will give them room to act on multiple parallel initiatives within the program that all map back to the same goal.

Once an initiative is complete, this also provides a clear benchmark that will serve to prove whether the initiative was a success and help to identify any outstanding needs.

two men thinking about business first

3. Think business-first

CIOs and IT departments are best-equipped to lead technology transformation as a trusted arm of the business; however, it is extremely important for them to approach this with a business-first mindset.

Companies should create a balanced IT department that includes both technology experts and business-minded professionals. By combining business with IT, the team will have both the technical skills required for the project and the necessary business context to keep the team focused on the end-goal (i.e. customer needs and organizational goals). This enables more efficient processes, which is something we at Mitel discovered very early on when undergoing the beginning stages of our own digital transformation.

To combat this, we created the IT Business Technology group to combine the strengths of IT experts and business-minded professionals to move our digital transformation forward.

coworkers giving fist bump synchronizing their efforts

4. Synchronize efforts

With speed as the currency for a successful digital transformation, business leaders should expect to have many projects happening at once. They are tasked with managing multiple projects in parallel streams to further increase speed and ensure teams are staying on track to meet deadlines.

Understanding this is extremely important, particularly for global companies that need to be cautious not to discount added synchronization challenges that come with working across regions and addressing customer needs that vary accordingly.

At any organization, there are also bound to be times when projects compete for the same resources from both the IT and business sides. Additionally, teams need to work together to proactively address potential availability issues with key systems and platforms that need to be operational for the project’s go live date. This is a smart way to avoid issues both as multiple teams are completing projects and when they reach the Go Live date.

A big factor to success with synchronized efforts is enabling employees to work together throughout the process of managing multiple projects at one time (another reason communication and collaboration are crucial for success). It will be key for business leaders managing a number of DX projects to keep these factors in mind.

customer and partner working together on computer

5. Make it easy for customers and partners

With many DX initiatives – including ours at Mitel – the end goal is customer success. While a company’s product or solution is traditionally considered the most important factor in customer satisfaction, the customer’s experience reaching out to support during or after the purchasing process is just as important.

Companies need to ask themselves, “What kind of tools can we give our customers/partners to improve their experience doing business with our organization?” Whether it’s a customer or partner portal or an online store or ticketing system, companies need to assess whether they are effectively providing customers and partners with an efficient way of doing business with them. What is their experience on the platform? What kinds of automation tools would improve their experience?

Companies should provide customers and partners with an easy, automated way to interact with them if they want to buy a service or need support.
Organizations need to consider all of the above best practices for a successful, speedy digital transformation. As with any technology implementation, a full organization-wide DX effort requires that business leaders establish goals, give employees the tools they need, and always keep customers and partners top of mind.

Get started with digital transformation today. Download our complimentary Digital Transformation for Dummies book. >

Jamshid Rezaei

Chief Information Officer

Jamshid is responsible for driving Mitel’s information technology (IT) initiatives, as well as developing and executing Mitel’s own digital transformation efforts. A passionate driver of change and innovation, Jamshid has been at the forefront of digital technology implementation in business communications for nearly two decades. In 2017, Jamshid was named an IDG Computerworld Premier 100 Technology Leader, recognized for his exceptional leadership and innovative approach to business. In addition, Jamshid holds an Information Technology Diploma from CDI College of Business and Technology (Toronto, Canada) and is a member of the CIO Association of Canada.

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