Part 1 of this series discusses the first two scenarios that should set off alarm bells if you are trying to execute a digital transformation. In this part, I discuss the final three scenarios and what you can do to try to course correct to keep a digital transformation on track.
As you get deeper into your digital transformation progression, there should be internal milestones or points in the process where your team steps back to gauge progress and decide on any necessary course correction. If these milestones haven’t been identified, stop reading and go put some dates in the calendar. If they have been identified, you need to make sure you have a basis on which to determine progress. This is when the additional three things that can derail a digital transformation might be realized.
No Defined Metrics or KPIs
In Part 1 of this series, I talked about the importance of understanding whether any particular initiative within a digital strategy drives growth or cost savings. Once you have ensured that analysis and understanding exists, it’s important to decide what specifically will be measured and where that data will come from. This may be more difficult than it seems since it’s likely different stakeholders will have different ideas about what to measure, and it’s also likely the data that could help you measure sits in several disparate systems. So how do you start?
- A simple mapping exercise looking at the specific goal, the metrics that can give you progress against that goal (be judicious, select no more than three), where that data is stored, and the key performance indicators (KPIs) that will be used to summarize progress against a particular goal or topic. A very simple example is e-commerce conversion. Here’s what that mapping could look like:
Goal: Increase conversion by 5% (notice this isn’t just “increase conversion,” as that isn’t specific enough)
Input Metrics: Total traffic, sales, month over month
Authoritative Source: Google Analytics
KPI: Conversion %
Now think about how complex this could get if you wanted to look at total conversion across digital and physical channels, where you have additional data capture systems and other considerations to measure true conversion. A mapping exercise like this is valuable in getting alignment across groups and doubles as a data systems gap analysis when you discover you want to measure something that isn’t yet being captured.
- Don’t forget to include internal metrics as an input to the overall progress measurement. At a minimum, quarterly input from teams can give good context to an overall scorecard of digital transformation progress. This can be rooted in satisfaction surveys, 360 feedback, team attrition or retention; it’s almost impossible to deliver a superior customer experience if the teams developing them are unhappy.
No VOC Input
Working with clients in defining digital transformation strategies is typically focused in some part on providing a better customer experience, but it’s surprising how often voice of the customer (VOC) research or any kind of customer feedback is ignored in thinking about initiatives to support a transformation. In a previous post, I talked about the importance of talking to your customers when trying to decide what types of digital trends should be adopted in a strategy. If VOC isn’t an important piece of your transformation strategy, here’s how to rectify that fast:
- Field observation. In other words, go watch your customers interact with your brand. Digitally, physically, call center; anywhere that can help answer the questions “What do our customers struggle with?” and “How can we streamline or personalize or their experience?” Spending a few hours with a few of your customers can be eye-opening if it isn’t done regularly. I’ve seen takeaways from an activity like this turn a digital strategy on its head.
- Try a customer survey. Not sure where to start? A survey is a relatively cheap and easy way to start gathering directional feedback as a means to formulate the goals of a deeper study or field observation objective. In designing a survey, be sure to include a cross-section of your customer segments to avoid any kind of confirmation bias that may exist with your more loyal segments.
- Create a Customer Advisory Board (CAB). Depending on your particular market or business model, you may want to create a CAB to help you create a customer-centric transformation strategy. There is more investment required in the creation and curation of a CAB, but the payoff tends to be far more valuable. Keep in mind that the investment is coming from your customer attendees too and its important to approach this type of arrangement as a collaboration of ideas, not a focus group.
No Real Change Management Plans
Finally, digital transformation is inherently about change. Change is hard and people don’t like it. That’s probably why direct discussions about change management initiatives are often downplayed or categorized as ‘administrative’ when putting together a digital transformation strategy. The lack of focused change management activities is probably the #1 root cause of transformation failure, but that is very difficult to see when you’re in the middle of the work. If you aren’t seeing initiatives to address the management and rollout of the changes themselves think about adding the following workstreams:
- Training. At rollout and then again at regular increments. It’s a longer road to adoption and acceptance than most organizations realize and as people start using systems and processes they will have feedback; they will learn better ways of operating; they will come and go. Keep everyone motivated and moving forward with ongoing training and support across systems and processes. Do not relegate this to HR.
- Governance. It’s a heavy word, but you generally want to have a steering committee in place to formalize and rollout adjustments to the transformation. As I mentioned in Part 1 of this post, transformation is never ‘complete’ and even if an organization starts strong, how that transformation continues and evolves needs a separate plan to cover things like feedback cycles, process improvement, standard operating procedure adjustments, skill set and resource definition, etc.
- Company-wide motivation and communication. Transformations impact every corner of the business. It’s difficult enough to keep individual initiatives and teams on-track and even more difficult to make everyone feel they are all pulling in the same direction. A simple solution to this is a quarterly all-hands that provides transformation status updates, recognizes teams and individuals for wins, and acknowledges any learnings and course corrections. Let team members run the meeting themselves and allow for open and honest discussions. Also, it doesn’t hurt to invite outside speakers once in a while to let your group know other companies are working through transformations of their own. Inspiration and motivation comes in many forms.
At Perficient Digital, we work with clients everyday to help design and execute digital transformations. It’s not uncommon to see one or all of the issues I note above, but the good news is once the gaps are uncovered, they can be quickly remedied. Just don’t wait until the tail end of your transformation to try to close those gaps.