To thrive, all companies must grow. Right now, a digital transformation roadmap is vital in doing so.
Businesses have always evolved to stay ahead of the competition. The current landscape is no different – it’s just adoption of new technology is the real crunch point right now.
That’s because the advancement we’ve seen in tech over the past few years, such as artificial intelligence and cloud solutions, far surpasses anything we’ve seen before.
Thanks to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, this adoption has been accelerated by around seven years, according to research by McKinsey.
This means your business can now:
- Collect more data and use it for super-accurate forecasting and strategic planning
- Take your customer experience to the next level with AI and AR solutions
- Attract worldwide talent via remote and hybrid working options
- Improve employee productivity by automating low-level administrative tasks
- Increase employee engagement and reduce turnover costs
Ultimately, this results in more revenue. Significantly more, if you do it right – so much so that it simply won’t be possible to compete without it. Salesforce founder and CEO Marc Benioff describes it as a “must-have”:
“Organizations and governments around the world have a digital transformation imperative like never before, and many of them are accelerating their plans for a digital-first work-from-anywhere environment.”
Like any sort of large-scale change, this digital transformation requires a considered, planned approach to implementation to succeed. That’s where a digital transformation roadmap is essential.
What is digital transformation?
‘Digital transformation' is simply an umbrella term for any initiative your organization takes to introduce new technology to improve business processes.
This doesn’t have to be anything particularly remarkable. Used an employee app to move essential files (order forms, manuals and the like) online? Congrats, you’ve been digitally transforming!
There are likely hundreds of actions you can take across your business that would fall under the umbrella term of ‘digital transformation’.
And, with 72% of companies looking to permanently allow some form of remote work, according to 2022 research by Buffer, it’s likely that you’re somewhere along this journey already.
Here are a few examples:
- Automating key business processes, such as leave approval and rota allocation
- Using e-signing for important business docs rather than paper-based processes
- Incorporating augmented reality solutions into your business, for example on an e-commerce app or in product design processes
- Using remote collaboration tools to encourage distributed teams to work together
A roadmap for digital transformation: what you should know
A digital transformation roadmap, in a nutshell, contains a plan for implementing your digital transformation and a series of steps towards doing so.
A digital transformation roadmap helps you define and categorize short and long-term goals. By breaking a vast and, let’s be honest, often intimidating process into manageable steps, it also increases your chances of success.
That’s really important – because due to poor management and lack of teamwork, up to 70% of digital transformation initiatives don’t meet their stated goals.
A roadmap is essential for:
- Defining the stages of your digital transformation and avoiding expensive scope creep
- Stating overall goals clearly, and identifying immediately achievable short-term tasks
- Making it clear where responsibility for different tasks lies
How do you build a digital transformation roadmap?
With so much resting on it, building your own digital transformation roadmap might seem like a struggle in itself!
That’s entirely natural. To help, we’ve got some pointers. In the next section, we’ll also offer up a digital transformation roadmap example so you know exactly what you should be aiming at.
Overall, your digital transformation roadmap should:
- Clearly state what you want to achieve
- Outline which basic actions will help you achieve this
- Divide these actions between different teams or departments
- Provide information on budget and how much you have to allocate to each step
The key question is: “how do we get here?”
Whilst every organization is unique and will work it out slightly differently, there are a few steps that will help out, no matter what your circumstances.
Planning your digital transformation out like this will also help reduce the chance of cost overruns. 28% of projects fail due to poor budgeting; these initial road mapping activities will reduce this risk by helping anticipate costs.
1. Identify your overall goals for digital transformation
‘Digital transformation’ shouldn’t be a goal in itself. Instead, think about what you want to achieve through digital transformation – do you want to offer a better customer experience, for example, or reduce costly errors in your manufacturing workflows?
1. Take stock of where you are right now
What causes holdups, setbacks and misunderstandings in your organization? Spend some time digging here, and don’t be afraid to ask your wider workforce what they think too – they’re on the frontline, after all!
2. Identify key improvement areas
Where could you fill shortfalls with digital technology? For example, you might notice that your HR team is too bogged down with admin to dedicate enough time to more valuable activities, such as solving workplace disputes or processing employee feedback.
A solution here would be to automate basic processes like expense and leave management so they can refocus their workload.
3. Secure funding and build a budget
Finding a senior management sponsor to back your project opens so many doors. Look for someone aligned with your goals who is prepared to fight your case for funding to the board.
Once you have that all-important cash backing, start to figure out where best to budget it.
4. Identify any cultural shifts you might need to foster
Generally, organizations are change-resistant.
Think about what you might need to do to get your wider workforce onboard and really help make a return on your investment.
If your workforce isn’t particularly tech-savvy, for example, would offering extra training help?
5. Create a roadmap with strategic priorities and timelines
Here’s where you bring it all together.
Bring your overall goals and smaller objectives into a digital transformation roadmap that charts key actions, metrics and milestones.
6. Assign deliverables to different departments
Make sure everyone knows what their responsibilities are, going forward.
Digital transformation roadmap template
Sometimes, it’s a little easier to visualize a large-scale roadmap with a couple of examples in front of you.
Use the infographics below for inspiration. There’s no budgetary info on there (different projects have vastly different budgets, so it would be of limited use), but it’s worth looking at different ways to conceptualize your roadmap.
A few final thoughts
Digital transformation is all-encompassing. If you want to thrive in the post-COVID economy, digital transformation will become essential for every corner of your business.
This is exactly why a digital transformation roadmap is necessary. Trying to implement something so massive without breaking things down into smaller chunks will only end in failure.
A step-by-step approach, a good amount of tenacity and patience as you progress towards your long-term goal is essential.
Keep your eyes on the prize, and reward your teams every time you hit a key milestone. You will get there!