While embarking on the path of a digital transformation is absolutely necessary – especially during the COVID-19 pandemic – there are a few common pitfalls that can await companies. Especially those that are planning to handle their large-scale projects on their own, without any outside expertise and support.
Studies show that a stupefying 70% of all digital transformations either fail or don’t manage to reach all of their intended goals!
10 biggest digital transformation mistakes
1. Doing too much, too fast and expecting unrealistic results
This is the simplest recipe for failure. Remember that even big changes begin with tiny steps, and you cannot do everything at once because you will either burn out or get lost.
Start with a limited MVP and share any positive results, even small ones, early on. This will serve as an incentive for stakeholders, management and your employees to keep on transforming, and also allow you to see whether your strategy is good enough or if it needs some adjustments.
2. Insufficient budgeting and planning
Some companies make huge plans and then jump straight into executing them – without any detailed budgeting or first checking to see whether their employees possess the necessary knowledge and skills. This is exactly how hidden costs begin to pile up, in the form of unexpected delays, additional required training, and new hires, etc.
Take your time during the preliminary planning, add buffers to your budget for each part of the project, and always take it one step at a time. Plus, make sure that you have what it takes within your organisation to reach your goals.
3. Having no clear roles, goals and expectations
Surprisingly, many organisations know what they want to do but, inevitably, the people who are directly involved will have a different understanding of why they are doing this. Plus, if no one is really clear about their role within the digital transformation process, they won’t be as engaged as they should be.
Clearly articulate your expectations, define the goals of the transformation, the reasons behind the process, and set KPIs. Remember that your objectives should be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound). Also, redefine the roles of your employees, so that they are clear on their position within the transformation process and feel a sense of responsibility for it.
4. Ignoring your employees and acquiring little to no commitment from top executives
The transformation process is often a reflection of the CEO’s own state of mind, and can occur without any prior discussions with other employees, without any brainstorming, any consideration of other perspectives, and without any training. As a result of this, employees are often not engaged, and even top management will lack commitment to the project. Not to mention, no one will begin to use the new technologies unless they know why the old system was replaced and how to use the new one.
Talk to your employees, from the C-level executives down to junior specialists. Get different perspectives and make adjustments to the transformation as necessary. Also, keep on explaining why it’s necessary to get rid of the legacy systems and make sure that they like and use the new ones.
5. Ignoring crucial data insights and skipping the preparation phase
Any project can be undermined by failing to make data-informed decisions and skipping a thorough preparation phase. It’s like going right into heavy lifting without warming-up. Injuries are almost inevitable.
Exploit, manage and analyse your data collection to take the appropriate measures. Don’t just rely on your intuition.
6. Forgetting to put users first and taking a myopic approach
The needs of your customers are constantly evolving, especially during the pandemic. Not monitoring those needs leads to creating products, systems and services that have no value for them or that only solve older problems.
Think big! Use data insights, find out what your customers really need, and try to identify some trends, in order to anticipate what your users may soon expect from you. Put your clients first, so that you can always be one step ahead of them, and never behind.
7. Treating the digital transformation like a one-time project
Many organisations consider the digital transformation to be an ordinary tech project and once they achieve their goals, they think they’re done. Well, actually – they’re not. Why? Because it’s really an endless journey of keeping up with technology.
The digital transformation is not a project that you can complete and then just forget about. Once you think about it this way, you’re doomed. Always aim to be innovative for your customers and your organisation itself.
8. Being mentally stuck in the past and holding onto legacy systems
It’s common to think that if something works just fine, it shouldn’t be changed. This is not necessarily true, because this is a good way to let your competitors outrun you, causing employee dissatisfaction and your customers to churn.
Don’t get attached to any particular piece of technology. Things change, and so should your company. Replace your legacy systems with modern ones (step by step, of course) or you can also consider system modernisation, if this is all you need. Don’t just keep building on top of old solutions without upgrading them first just because you’re emotionally connected to them, otherwise you will never be able to break free from the past and move on.
9. Underestimating culture change
A common mistake is when the digital transformation is introduced to the organisation with just a single decision from the executive board. It doesn’t work that way! People need to be trained and immersed in new technologies in order to start thinking differently. There’s no way you can force this.
Start the cultural revolution! Talk to your employees, explain things, and engage them in the processes in order to help shift their mindsets towards going digital and to start using the new tools naturally. The technology and the working culture should be perfectly in line with each other.
10. Hiring many vendors instead of one solid partner
While it may not be the best idea in the world to navigate the digital transformation alone, you also want to avoid hiring a bunch of different vendors to bridge any gaps in skills or infrastructure. This makes things way harder to manage and to remain consistent with your strategy, especially when you also have non transformation-related tasks to do.
Work with a solid tech partner that can help you with everything, from strategy down to implementation, so that you can focus on your ongoing processes to keep the wheels turning. This will also allow you to get valuable perspective from a third party – one that is always ready to test and try out even your wildest ideas.
If you find that you’ve fallen into one or a few of these traps – reach out to us, so we can begin the rescue mission, whether you’re just starting to plan your transformation or even if you’ve already begun.