It is a competitive market out there and to stay ahead of the game, many companies need to radically change the way they work and make better use of technology. Digital transformation may seem like a huge undertaking but it doesn’t have to be. Nor does it have to require a huge financial investment. What it does take, is a bit of homework before you even start.
When you take the decision to disrupt your business in this way, it doesn’t necessarily mean ditching all of your existing tech and systems – it’s really about how you can get more out of what you already have. One of the things you may look to do is outsource any software development involved and the developer you select will be able to provide you with invaluable guidance on leveraging your existing technology. But that is only part of the overall project and in order to be successful, there are a few other things that need to be considered.
The first is your employees’ reaction to change. If you can exploit the positive and manage the negative reactions you may experience when you first suggest a change in the way employees work, you will be half way to a successful implementation. The key is to engage your employees from the outset. You may have your own ideas but, you know what? Your employees may have some pretty amazing ideas too. After all, they are at the coalface, working with your technology and processes day in, day out. Listen to them. For smaller companies it is easy to sit down with all the staff, gather ideas and gage responses. For bigger companies, selecting a representative working group (remembering to include the “difficult, opposed to change” employee too) might be the best way forward. Make these initial meetings fun and open – no idea is too way out and people should feel free to express those ideas. I always remember sitting in a “blue sky thinking” session. Of course, all the creative sales guys had gone blank and then our P.A. piped up “What about giving away a naked fireman calendar with every purchase?”. I cannot tell you how inappropriate that suggestion was considering what we were selling – but I can tell you how appropriate that comment was for that moment in time. The ice was broken, wacky ideas flowed which in turn prompted more realistic ideas and a plan evolved.
Formulate a Plan
And that plan is your next step. At this stage, it is probably more a wish list of outcomes – what you would like to achieve rather than how you are going to achieve it. Peter Drucker famously said “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it” so keep that in mind as you formulate your plan. What does success look like for you? And what does success look like for your employees and customers? The answers might be different and if you can achieve both, you’re on a winner! When you are looking at what you want to change, however radical, ask yourself what you will gain or improve by making that change. Try working backwards. What do you want to gain or improve, what can you change to achieve it?
Select a Software Developer
Whoever you select as your software developer, see them as a partner. Invite them to a working group meeting (maybe even before you have made your final provider selection) as their input may be invaluable in drafting your final spec. Be open to any suggestions they may make and take seriously any challenges they highlight. Exploit the wealth of experience the best software developers have.
Consider the Delivery Impact
So now you know what you want to achieve and you have selected your software developer – what next? You have already engaged with your employees and management are on board. Make sure you have given due consideration to the impact on company stakeholders involved in the delivery of the project. How will it affect their existing workloads? Employees will quickly disengage if they feel all that is in it for them is a mountain of extra work and their day to day tasks are falling behind. What else will being part of the group mean? Do you have field-based staff who will be pulled in to the office more often, perhaps? Have targets and objectives been altered accordingly?
You, your software developers and your working group should all be clear on which features of the proposed software are most valuable to the end user. What are your priorities? It is also important to agree timelines, key milestones, contacts and contact methods. Delivery of the project is a two-way process and it is important that you are responsive to your software developers’ requests for data and information. Many software development companies take an Agile approach to software – releasing early and then continuing the development until the desired end point is reached. This has many advantages as long as you have both been clear on what the minimum viable product is. Software developed in stages can help resistant employees to adapt as they don’t have to cope with too many changes at once. Bugs are spotted and fixed early (it is almost impossible to replicate every scenario for a piece of software in a test environment – users will always do the one thing you don’t expect them to!).
Extending the scope?
Don’t be surprised if new and different opportunities begin to open up as the software is implemented. Talk to your software developer about how these can be incorporated but be aware of going beyond the scope of the work originally quoted for. Go back a couple of steps and ask yourself what benefit the new opportunity will provide and is it worth extending the scope of the project or making it part of a completely new project.
The whole process will prove exciting, challenging and rewarding and if you want to stay ahead of the competition, disrupting your business is the way forward.
Roar offer a free Systems Survey and the resulting report forms an excellent basis for those early working group meetings. Phone Judy on 07472 972439 to book yours now and find out how else we can support you to achieve your own digital transformation.