Digital transformation: 3 tips to minimize friction

Transformation of any type brings challenges. From ensuring alignment to documenting processes, this expert advice can help smooth the journey
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Even in 2022, digital transformation can be a daunting initiative. Whether your organization is transitioning from a comfortable legacy system or porting historical data and developing new processes, many barriers can challenge your digital transformation journey.

These barriers can slow or even stop innovation. While your organization attempts to implement and onboard new systems, your transformation roadmap and plans for innovation may take a back seat.

How to reduce friction during digital transformation

Read on for three tips to minimize friction and maintain innovation during a digital transformation.

1. Align the people

One of the biggest barriers to adopting a new solution is that not everyone is invested in its success. With digital transformation, it’s critical to ensure employees are aligned on the plan and the resulting changes before you implement new technology.

[ Also read Digital transformation: 4 key building blocks. ]

This could be as simple as discussing new ideas and plans with the leadership team, followed by an announcement to your entire organization that changes are coming.

A survey or forum that enables employees to voice their opinions and preferences can also help with long-term implementation, especially if the changes are ones they have advocated for. Taking a team-centered approach in which leaders seek and value perspectives throughout the organization supports a culture of willingness to try new processes and technologies.

2. Document the process

Document the transformation process from the beginning. This serves various purposes, including establishing guidelines and creating references to scale future solutions.

To get the most out of a new solution, document your guidelines for important processes you’ve found effective, like staff workflows or knowledge management. Establishing an accessible framework for these essential processes allows you to perform them efficiently and consistently during times of transition while also providing a shared basis to pivot from in times of crisis.

By documenting practices, leaders can spend less time explaining, troubleshooting, and training and focus on innovating and planning for the future.

Finally, by documenting instructions, processes, and reporting practices, leaders can spend less time explaining, troubleshooting, and training and focus on innovating and planning for the future.

3. Choose the right technology

As every IT team knows, there are countless vendors and providers out there for solving any and every technology challenge. When embarking on a digital transformation journey, decision-makers may feel overwhelmed while trying to decide what solution, or combination of solutions, is best for their organization. Decision-makers must be sure that their technology investment goes beyond just the latest trend; it must address the roots of their problems while minimizing the lift on users and IT staff.

Staying true to your business strategy and vision will help guide you. Ask strategic questions like “How will this differentiate us and get us further ahead of the competition?” Look for vendors with proven use cases of solving the issues you’re dealing with and notable, positive results from customers.

Digital transformation fails when organizations try to “boil the ocean” and accomplish all their goals at the same time. Instead, begin with specific and achievable first steps with results that have an immediate impact on stakeholders and make their jobs easier and more rewarding. In short, look for “painkillers” rather than “vitamins.”

It’s challenging but critical to maintain operations and innovation at any organization, even during a time of transformation. While any transformation can be rocky, making proper preparations around people, processes, and technology will smooth the transition and improve buy-in and scale across your organization.

[ New research from Harvard Business Review Analytic Services identifies four focus areas for CIOs as they seek more flexibility, resilience, and momentum for digital transformation. Download the report now. ]

Sanjeev Agrawal is the President and Chief Operating Officer at LeanTaaS, a leading healthcare predictive analytics company based in Silicon Valley. Sanjeev was Google’s first Head of Product Marketing.