There’s a sense in enterprises today that digital change is now inevitable. By the end of 2019, spending on digital transformation will reach £1.2 trillion worldwide-up 42 per cent from 2017, according to a report from IDC late last year. But for many enterprises, it is not just the usual challenges such as organisational resistance to change and legacy business models that make the digital transformation journey difficult.
Securing investment is a major factor. Also, the fear that digital transformation will burn up time and money can prevent businesses from committing to the process. However, it doesn’t have to be a costly exercise: organisations can set up teams to accelerate digital transformation without making significant investments in resources by following five key steps.
Step 1: Assemble an Adoption Team
Digital transformation affects a whole company. It’s not just an “IT thing.” It changes how business gets done. Therefore, a force is needed to push change across your organisation. This is how an adoption team can help. To build one, you need to fill the following key roles:
- Executive sponsor: Digital transformation requires support from the very top. An executive sponsor (or sponsors) who can articulate a compelling vision and find the necessary funding is essential.
- Adoption champion: Every movie has a resilient hero full of enthusiasm. In a digital transformation initiative, the adoption champion is that hero, driving the programme and building consensus, while valiantly handling a few issues on the way.
- Adoption expert: All teams and projects benefit from the guidance of someone who has been on the journey before and is full of valuable advice and direction. The adoption expert can help overcome any unwelcome surprises.
For these roles, you will need to look inside your organisation and work out who is most likely to take on the task. The one exception is the adoption expert, who is usually a consultant or representative from an outside company whose expertise is accelerating digital transformation.
Step 2: Build a Core Digital Transformation Development Team
Big projects are best undertaken in small stages, and digital transformation is no different. Start small, usually with a simple application or piece of software. Your adoption team can help decide what to try. Now you can build a core development team.
Every organisation has its own unique structure; however, when it comes to delivering software, there are some common functions involved, and they can be broken down to form your core as follows:
- Business user: Make sure you build software or an app that the business wants by having at least one representative from the business working with your core team, sharing process information, and even testing, if needed.
- Product owner: Someone acting as a proxy between the development team and the business user helps keep the project on track.
- Tech lead: Tech leads address architectural and operational tasks. They design app-level architecture, control code quality, and map technical features to business requirements.
- Developers: If your project doesn’t require a mobile app with a front-end to delight consumers, you can complete your first app with a few all-purpose developers. If you’re using a low-code platform, you won’t need more than three.
Where to Find Your Core Team and What to Look For
You may find people for this team inside your organisation, depending on your size and makeup. For the business user, you need someone who truly understands the business processes you are transforming and is comfortable with technical communication. The product owner should have project management and excellent communication skills.
Step 3: Expand Your Core Team
After you build your first successful app, you’ll quickly want to expand to bigger and more exciting projects with amazing user experiences. So, it’s time to increase the size of your team. To ensure a user experience that is intuitive, comfortable, and brilliant, add these roles:
- Key users: Mobile apps require a customer focus. Key users provide that perspective throughout the design and development process.
- Tester: First impressions determine an app’s success. You need a dedicated and knowledgeable tester on your team for performance and cross-device testing.
- Front-end developer: If you want to build an app that users will adopt, you’ll need a dedicated front-end developer who gets into the minds of users, cares about their experiences, and pays attention to every detail.
- UX/UI designer: Understanding the customer journey and developing an optimised experience requires the specialised skills of a UX/UI designer.
Where to Find Your Expanded Team and What to Look For
Great key users are interested in making your app better by describing what they look for in a digital experience; they are willing to test things out. Testers need to be detail-oriented, sceptical, with at least three years of software QA, test planning, and test writing experience.
Step 4: Turn Your Team into a Centre of Excellence
Success leads to many more apps. This is a critical point in the digital transformation journey. Demand can quickly spiral out of control until you are right back where you have started: staring down an overworked IT team with a heavy backlog load and an adoption team that’s lost interest. So how do you combat this?
A Centre of Excellence provides just the right level of governance and control, so you can safely scale your digital transformation projects across multiple teams, all set up just like your first ones. More teams involved in digital transformation means it’s vital to make sure you have got best practices for architecture and UI/UX in place for everyone. You’ll also benefit from adding a couple more roles as you build out your Centre of Excellence:
- Programme manager: Working closely with the business users, adoption team, and product owners, the programme manager leads in prioritising and sequencing new apps and features in your projects.
- Architect: In a Centre of Excellence, the architect develops standards for architecture, communicates them to project teams, and makes sure they are used. This provides the consistency that prevents technical debt and keeps things humming along.
Where to Find Your Centre of Excellence Team and What to Look For
Look for a programme manager who has experience running projects, along with technical depth and excellent communication skills. A continuous improvement mindset is critical.
To find your architect, target people who know your business and industry and have comprehensive experience with projects that combine hardware, software, application, customer service, and systems engineering. They should demonstrate knowledge of IT governance and operations and excellent interpersonal leadership skills. Don’t settle for anyone with less than exemplary communication skills.
With this leadership, you can set up multiple core and expanded teams whenever and wherever they’re needed. Your digital transformation projects can scale with sustainability.
Step 5: Get the Playbook
Despite how much easier digital transformation can be when you structure your teams and projects in the right way, it’s a lot of work. Fortunately, there’s a guide for that. The Digital Transformation Foundation Playbook is a super reference for anyone who is overwhelmed by massive backlogs, scarce resources, legacy systems, and uncertainty and needs to kick-start their digital journey.
Hopefully, the outlined steps will provide enterprises with a great insight into making the digital transformation journey a success. As businesses continue to adopt a digital approach, these successes can spawn further successful projects. This in turn will help deliver a consistent and positive brand experience through your entire customer journey, as well as increase sales, retention and growth of customer base.
Nick Pike is vice president for the UK and Ireland at OutSystems.
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