Welcome back to the exciting conclusion of “6 Key Steps to Streamline Your Digital Transformation” – Part II. The objective of this 2-part series was to assist you and streamline your digital transformation (DT) effort with some best practice recommendations. The recommended steps are further detailed in the Eastan Digital Transformation Operating Model (EDTOM), a framework that seeks to improve the organization, management, and execution of digital transformation initiatives.
n Part 1, we discussed steps 1-3 as follows:
- Complete Introductions: In this step, we define who is completing the work. Our goal is not only to familiarize team members with each other but ultimately to build trust and goodwill within the team.
- Develop Your Team’s Operating Model: In this step, we define what we will complete.
- Define Your Work Plan: In this step, we plan how our work will be completed by establishing the sequencing.
In Part 2, we’ll close out our discussion, detailing steps 4-6.
Again, this is not a recipe, or a 1-size fits all model. So, please modify as you see fit. The key is to have a plan and be programmatic and pragmatic in its implementation and execution.
Ok, let’s jump back in.
Step 4: Get Organized
One of my first consulting project engagements involved the development of a knowledge repository for a telecommunication (phone) company. Wow, I’m really dating myself here. This was back in the days when everyone had a landline phone, and cell phones were relatively new. In fact, one of the other project teams was developing a strategy/program that would enable the phone company to assign a “permanent” phone number that, like your mobile phone number, could be used anywhere (i.e., in another state). Yes (as I sip my Ovaltine), there was a time when you received a new phone number when you moved beyond the limits of your area code.
Our consulting company had a program engagement with the client consisting of multiple concurrent projects. Each project produced a lot of content. And the content was not well organized and often resided on individual laptops/computers. So, you can imagine the panic that ensued when a document was needed, and the document owner was out of the office, or their laptop was stolen or damaged.
To address this concern, we kicked off a project to organize all the projects under the program umbrella. We developed a taxonomy to structure and organize the content (see Figure 1), employed a file server repository to manage and store the content, and developed a governance model to enforce its usage.
Figure 1: Project Taxonomy
It was not the most glamorous project, but it quickly became the program MVP. Project leads appreciated the fact that content could be easily stored and organized. And the client appreciated the ability to locate project-related items quickly. Project teams were 5-15% more productive, with efficiencies gained from their improved ability to locate/manage content.
In step 4 of the EDTOM, set up your knowledge repository for your project artifacts. Depending on your organization, I recommend that you initially establish a structure/taxonomy for your files. Determine who needs access. And then, upload your materials to a cloud-based repository (e.g., MS Teams, MS OneDrive). Look, you will produce a lot of project content, which will probably become overwhelming. So don’t get overwhelmed; get organized.
As you organize your files, file structure and taxonomy will be essential. Here is a proposed approach for your consideration (See Figure 2).
Figure 2: File Structure Example
I’ll admit this is not the most exciting step, but I STRONGLY recommend that you take the time and do it right. The effort will pay off and be extremely beneficial to your project’s organization and management.
Step 5: Measure… Detail Your Path to the Truth
You may recall in Part 1; I mentioned my engagement in re-engineering and developing digital solutions for a South American airline. One of the showcase items for the effort was our team’s scorecards. I required each team to develop and maintain a project scorecard measuring the team’s efforts employing Agile and the business impact of their efforts.
Developing dashboards entails a lot of details and steps, such as: infrastructure, data modeling, data visualization, governance, and distribution methods (here’s an article that provides comprehensive detail). And as each team was developing their dashboards, there was a lot of grumbling by team members because of the length of time involved.
Team members questioned the effort and overall purpose of putting together dashboards. The grumbling from the team came to a head when finally, one of my project managers came up to me, questioning, “Ron, the teams are not happy. Why do we (the teams) need to put together dashboards?” Without missing a beat, I calmly replied, “Why do your kids have report cards?!?” She immediately got it and went back and explained it to her teams. Her teams completed their dashboards, and we moved forward. Eventually, each team embraced their dashboard as a testament to their efforts and overall business impact.
As the adage goes, what gets measured, gets managed. And a dashboard serves as a convenient way where team members can capture to communicate what they’re being measured by and how they’re performing.
Step 6: Execute and Communicate Your Progress
Early in my career, I joined a startup pioneering supply chain visibility. And when you work at a startup, you will go above and beyond to meet your customer’s requirements. We worked A LOT.
We employed a use case, iterative approach to meet our customer requirements. This model worked well in our ability to capture customers dynamic (i.e., ever changing) requirements and priorities and quickly develop supporting solutions/functionality. As a result, we could develop and deliver customer concepts/solutions in weeks, not months/years, and solicit timely feedback.
In Step 6 of the EDTOM, execute the work plan developed in Step 3. When executing, be sure to focus and address1-2 priorities at a time for each iteration in your plan. As you progress, always be sure to:
- Draw a clear roadmap.
- Measure your performance. (See Step 5)
- Over-communicate on your efforts, progress, and issues.
- Seek feedback/input beyond the usual channels.
Then iterate and evolve your solution along the way (See Figure 3). While your early solution may not appear to be very glamorous initially, stay the course. The key is that you’re progressing by developing a functioning solution, incorporating use cases by priority for feedback and learning.
Figure 3: Iterate and Evolve Your Solution
Recommended Best Practices
As we wrap up, here are some additional suggested best practices.
1. Keep it Collaborative
For Step 2, be sure that you create your team’s operating model collaboratively with team members. This is especially important for establishing your team’s code and for deciding how decisions are made.
2. Start small and Iterate
People generally have difficulty with change, and an operating model includes much of it. So do not try to implement it all at once. Start small and grow. Focus on implementing the most important components (like your principles), then refine and build as you go. I recommend reading and referencing the Agile Manifesto.
3. Socialize It/Keep Everyone in the “Know”
Post your team’s operating model in a public space that can be easily accessed like a shared wiki/intranet site. Not only will this let your team know what to expect, but it will also be visible to other stakeholders who may find it valuable. While simple, these small steps are effective at building alignment around a shared objective.
And schedule reviews with your key stakeholders (including your customers). This will not only increase your credibility by demonstrating your progress but will serve as a terrific opportunity to socialize ideas and enlist feedback.
4. Be flexible and keep things high-level
No plan or model will cover every contingency. Your operating model is a guide, not a firm dictate on how things must be done. If part of your operating model is not working for you, do not force it. Revise it or throw it out.
Similarly, if your model is too detailed, it will slow you down. Strike a balance between providing enough information to guide your team without being directive.
5. Align with Company/Group Objectives
As you develop your strategy and plans, make sure to review your company/group’s strategic objectives and ensure that you align them directly with these objectives. This will further amplify your project efforts with your alignment to corporate objectives and should likely bolster your support from executive stakeholders.
6. Celebrate (Big and Small)
Bolster team morale and take time to recognize/celebrate great work. We’re all human and we all appreciate individual recognition for a job well done or effort made to improve a business process and/or solution. And something on the scale of a digital transformation is no exception.
After Dinner Mints
Lastly, this article would not be complete without a few after-dinner mints to complement your article consumption and further drive your thoughts and actions:
- The Hard Thing About Hard Things: A great read by Ben Horowitz, co-founder of Andreesen Horowitz. The Hard Thing is not for the fainthearted. It provides brutally honest and direct details on Ben’s experiences starting and running businesses. Its directness may not be for everyone, but it provides sound wisdom for individuals on how to manage their teams and business areas more efficiently.
- Start With Why: When I think about the various organizations, I’ve been associated with, whether it’s for work, volunteering, or past organizations, the typical reason these organizations underperform is due to their inability to explain why they exist. Organizations that can (Apple, Southwest, Walt Disney). As you will find in your project efforts, your success will come from your effectiveness in understanding and communicating why you are doing what you are doing.
Digital Transformation (DT) is an increasing imperative for businesses looking to employ digital solutions/technology to improve their businesses – increasing revenues, lowering costs, and improving customer engagement – and gaining a competitive advantage. Yet, a great deal of the success of DT efforts starts and ends with a company’s success in defining and aligning around a clear strategy with an executable plan and well stated goals and objectives.
Teams move at the speed of information, clarity, and trust. Defining roles, clarifying problems, and instilling trust increase your project’s chances of successfully reaching its state’s goals and objectives.
The Eastan Digital Transformation Operating Model (EDTOM) provides a 6-step framework to maximize your success in your digital transformation efforts and minimize your missteps. The objective of the Eastan Product Operating Model is to mobilize your teams quickly team maximizing their success and minimizing their missteps. The steps are as follows:
1. Introduce Yourself: Introduce yourself to your team, making them aware of who you are, your imperatives, your goals, and how to work with you successfully. (Who is completing the work?)
2. Develop Your Team’s Operating Model: Define your team’s operating model, including the problem(s) to be addressed; the goals and measure of success for your efforts; team principles; critical processes and high-level activities’ roles and responsibilities; and communication plan. (What work will be completed?)
3. Define Your Work Plan: Detail how your teams will complete their work - key processes/activities, workflow, decision-making, and timing. (When will you complete your work?)
4. Setup your Knowledge Repository: Organize your commonly referenced resources and content so that it can referenced and shared easily. (Where will we store our work artifacts/deliverables?)
5. Measure: Define and capture how to measure your team’s efforts with individual metrics/key performance indicators (Why is your work important. How will you measure your?)
6. Execute and Communicate Your Progress: Execute your work plan in sprints and iterate and evolve your solution along the way. (How are you progressing?)
Modify the steps in the EDTOM as appropriate. But the key is to have a plan and be pragmatic, programmatic, and consistent in its execution. The steps in the EDTOM will jump-start your efforts and maximize your success in your digital transformation efforts.