Digital transformation: 4 strategies to set the right goals

Have you set the right goals for your digital transformation? These strategies will help you identify the best benchmarks and act on them
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Digital transformation initiatives should be comprehensive and defined by a vision that leads organizations toward more efficient, data-driven, and goal-oriented performance. Digital transformation requires a clear end goal as well as detailed benchmarks to help lead teams in the right direction. The more specific and considered the goals and benchmarks, the more likely the organization is to see progress and ultimate success.

As your organization establishes its digital transformation vision, the most important question may be whether it is goal-oriented or outcome-oriented. While a goal-based perspective considers the big picture and long-term priorities, focusing on outcomes will prioritize steady progress and finding opportunities for incremental improvement on existing processes. The outcomes of that progress – cost savings or reduced workload, for example – help to build buy-in and momentum for the broader transformation.

Regardless of your overall approach, it’s important to use frequent, consistent measurements to ensure that work is moving forward. Regular measurement helps you identify your most successful efforts, which you can then replicate in other areas of the business. It’s also essential to not only review your goals regularly but also refine them. Benchmarks that made sense in January may no longer be ambitious enough after review in July.

[ Where is your team's digital transformation work stalling? Get the eBook: What's slowing down your Digital Transformation? 8 questions to ask. ]

How can you ensure that you’ve set the right goals for your digital transformation? Here are four strategies that will help you to identify the best benchmarks and act against them consistently.

1. Don't assume blanket goals will work

Digital transformation is not a one-size-fits-all initiative: Each enterprise should tailor its goals to specific company needs as well as to different challenges faced by individual teams.

Conduct audits internally to determine what targeted goals and benchmarks will deliver the fastest returns and use that momentum to build towards larger successes. Above all, prioritize customer-focused change – improving the customer experience is the most efficient way to drive value for your company.

2. Prioritize and track employee satisfaction

One of the most common pitfalls of digital transformation is focusing on changes to the company as a whole without considering those who will be responsible for implementing the changes. Including employee satisfaction as a key metric will help ensure that you’re not losing touch with those who will be responsible for the transformation’s success. This metric can even help to inform further changes, with employee feedback and satisfaction helping to identify the most effective new initiatives.

3. Measure your skills gap and work to narrow it

Digital transformation is not just a matter of making your machines and processes more efficient; those same principles can also be applied to your people. Forward-thinking enterprises can evaluate and benchmark the skills of their employees, using educational platforms and other tools to help them overcome any gaps in their skillsets. Reskilling is an asset to digital transformation as it empowers employees to derive more value from new systems and technologies.

4. Use the three cardinal metrics

While every organization’s goals should be adjusted to fit their specific situation, three overarching metrics will always help to paint the picture of progress and success:

Market responsiveness: Have your enterprise’s upgraded systems enabled it to move with more agility when reacting to new trends and shifts in the market?

Overall speed: This will help to define the extent to which your transformation is working. This should be the easiest goal to measure: Are teams achieving their goals more quickly than a year ago?

Quality: While a qualitative measurement may be the most complicated to pin down, any number of metrics can be used to help quantify an overall assessment of quality – from customer satisfaction to Net Promoter Score to lifetime value.

The most important factors for setting goals and benchmarking digital transformation are reflection and adaptability. Just as an initiative without goals will likely fail, setting a goal without tracking progress will lead to stilted or sluggish results. The goals you set on day one may not prove to be the right goals in the long term; however, adapting those goals over time will ensure that you end up achieving your vision.

[ Get answers to key digital transformation questions and lessons from top CIOs: Download our digital transformation cheat sheet. ]

Vikas is part of the executive leadership team at Persistent reporting to the CEO. He has partnered with CXOs across the globe to deliver several transformational programs leveraging data, analytics, and digital technologies. At Persistent, his role is to bring digital capabilities together to the benefit of our clients.

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