Digital transformation, or DX, may still carry the same meaning as it did 20 years ago, but its execution has changed dramatically. This is primarily because most—if not all—businesses have undergone digital transformation in some capacity. In 2018, for example, a reported 96% of organizations had initiated cloud adoptions, proving that the business landscape as a whole recognizes the value that comes from implementing faster, smarter technology.
This makes current conversations around digital transformation much more nuanced—the question is no longer if you should convert your business to digital solutions, but instead how and with what tools. Project management teams, in particular, are tasked with the important mission of developing the best plan of action to ensure that digital migrations run smoothly and deliver value long into the future.
From a competitive landscape perspective, DX project management is essential to avoiding “Digital Darwinism,” the death of brands that are not able to adapt to digital project management as quickly as others in their industry. However, digital transformation in 2020 also provides a number of benefits beyond survival, such as developing more data-driven insights, connecting disparate members of your team, and allowing technology to alleviate a great deal of your workloads. Follow these steps to implement your digital transformation project journey.
Step 1: Audit Your Current Workflows
The path to better digital integrations begins with an assessment of the tools, technology, and workflows currently at your project’s disposal. This process is called workflow auditing, and it’s a good practice to perform when your current workflows are no longer yielding their anticipated results. A successful workflow audit will help you pinpoint your core inefficiencies, which will become the key areas to focus on digitally transforming.
Workflow auditing requires you to consider your projects from every perspective in order to find the places where digital transformation will produce the greatest impact. If you’re not sure where to begin, you can start by asking some of the following questions:
- How simple or complex is this workflow?
- Are there certain tasks that delay on-time delivery?
- How much does this project rely on human labor to operate?
- Does this workflow regularly experience inconsistencies?
- Is this workflow effective in delivering completed projects to customers by their deadline?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you can uncover which part of your project plan is in the direst need of a digital transformation. As opposed to tackling all of your projects at once, concentrating your resources on a single project makes for a more feasible tech migration—not to mention, it requires significantly less of an upfront cost and buy-in from your executive leadership.
Step 2: Replace with Digital Alternatives
In today’s fast-paced, technology-driven work environment, outdated technology can be as harmful to productivity as no technology at all. Whether you’ve neglected to update computer software for the past few years or are still attached to your fax machine, faulty technology more often than not contributes to employee frustrations, stalls your project deliveries, and jeopardizes your online security. In fact, recent research reveals that more than half of employees at organizations with outdated business tools feel less productive and more inclined to quit. This is compared to a meager 6% of employees at tech-savvy companies who expressed these same frustrations.
This means that great DX requires not only the best tools available today, but also the appropriate infrastructure to switch out your technology stack as future solutions present themselves. Here are a few services you can review that have been known to aid in project management DX:
- Designed to help businesses retain their employee base, technologies under the term employee engagement software are tools that help you measure the performances and happiness of your workforce. For project teams specifically, migrating to digital employee engagement can enable new motivation strategies, such as gamifying your current workloads with score boards, puzzles and bonus incentives for great work.
- Capable of transmitting voice information over broadband or Wi-Fi, the set of technologies known as VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, has helped businesses migrate their handheld office phones to digital alternatives. By routing phone calls through the internet, VoIP lets project teams access their business phones and voicemails through their company laptops.
- With the ability to track the patterns in your project’s workflows and replicate them, artificial intelligence technology like BPA, or Business Process Automation, enables digital transformation by removing the need for manual entering and processing information. This helps businesses accelerate the speed and precision of the projects they are able to deliver.
- Created to help teams monitor their current projects at a digital level, applications such as project management software supply project leaders with all the tools they need to convert their project plans into a digital solution. While a great project management tool is a great first step toward total digital integrations, reporting and analytics features give you the insights you need to continue evolving your virtual strategies.
Step 3: Operationalize, Observe, and Optimize
Remember: researching and implementing emerging technology is only half of the digital transformation battle. Without a way to measure the success of your DX plan and adjust accordingly, you’ll find yourself in the same situation that made adapting to digital necessary in the first place. At a time where 70% of digital transformation efforts fail, real-time analytics and metric-driven insights are your most valuable tool for keeping your projects on the path to success.
Tracking the success of your project planning well beyond the new tech launch also highlights the type of philosophy you need to have in order for digital upgrades—in any capacity—to work. Digital transformation is not a single action or a solitary bullet on your company’s timeline. It instead must be seen as a continuous practice, a dynamic strategy that corrects itself and adapts with your business. If you take ownership of digitally transforming your projects, therefore, you are responsible for measuring key performance indicators before, during, and after operationalizing this technology. Digital transformations that do not yield their desired results may require further optimization to avoid long-term failure.
Step 4: Brace with Change Management
The final step of digital transformation has nothing to do with your new technology but instead its relationship with every person who touches your project. As with any change to your work methodology, successful digital transformation means nothing if your employees aren’t able to adapt to your new strategies for completing projects.
One of the most immediate challenges that businesses face after implementing new technology is called the “Valley of Despair,” or a period of time where the change you initiated actually results in a dramatic plummet to productivity. A great change management plan helps you narrow or eliminate this window to help your team get back to being productive more quickly.
So much of great change management is great project communication—at all points of your digital transformation journey. From the moment you decide which project plan requires a digital redesign, you should notify every person who owns a part of that process. When necessary, hosting training sessions on these new technologies and polling whether these changes have improved the speed or quality at which your projects get delivered. By anticipating how these changes will affect your workforce in advance and proactively working through these challenges, you can ensure that your digital transformation will become effective more quickly today, as well as in the future.