How to Define the Best Digital Strategy

Written By: Eric Kimberling
Date: August 14, 2018

On any given week, I interact and consult with at least a dozen different current and potential clients. I come to different conclusions and recommendations for each based on who they are and what they are trying to accomplish. An effective digital strategy is one that is tailored for and aligned with an organization’s specific needs.

I cringe every time I hear a software vendor talk about “best practices” or suggest that their solution is a silver bullet to solve the world’s problems. The reality is that every organization has different needs. This is one of my biggest lessons from over 1,000 ERP implementations.

Here are five steps to enable you to define your digital strategy:

1. Define who you are and where you’re going with your digital strategy

Alignment with corporate strategy and culture is probably the most important aspect of an effective digital strategy. This is even more important than the actual decisions themselves. If your digital strategy is aligned with your corporate strategy and with how you execute the transformation, then you have a high chance of success.

With this in mind, it is important to first define your core competencies and strategy for the future. What is it you are trying to accomplish as an organization? What is your vision for how your operations will look in the future. The answers to these and other questions will set you on the path toward the best digital strategy.

2. Establish clear metrics for your digital transformation

Once you understand where you are and where you’re going as an organization, it is important to define what success means to you. This entails defining your key operational metrics, which should tie to planned business process improvements.

These metrics should also feed into your business case and benefits realization plan. They are also helpful in ensuring project governance and risk mitigation strategies. They will help you justify and optimize the benefits for your potential digital strategies.

3. Objectively assess the pros and cons of your potential digital strategies

Your organization has a number of potential strategic alternatives – all with distinct pros, cons, and tradeoffs. No one alternative will be perfect, so it is important to objectively evaluate each of them. The metrics and business case you’ve defined will help you to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each option.

For example, your organization may be considering SAP S/4HANA vs. Oracle Cloud ERP vs. Microsoft Dynamics 365 as potential solutions. Each will have different implementation costs, impacts to your organization, and tradeoffs. It is important to objectively evaluate these very different strategic paths. This is an area that Third Stage Consulting can help.

4. Build an organizational change management strategy to support your digital strategy

Your digital strategy won’t mean much without an effective organizational change management strategy to support it. Defining this important human component of your transformation is one of the most important inputs and determinants of success.

I have written other blogs about how to define your organizational change plan. To summarize, your organizational change plan should address organizational readiness, change impact, organizational design, and other critical activities that most project teams and system integrators don’t think about.

5. Define a transformation plan that is aligned with your digital strategy

Now that you have defined your potential options, it is important to define how exactly those strategies might unfold. In other words, you need to define your implementation plans for each. This will help you define the overall strategy and costs of each potential option.

This should also entail defining project governance and measures of success. These should remain aligned with your overall corporate and digital strategy as defined so far.


The best digital strategy for your organization probably looks unlike the best ones for most other companies. There are no generic answers, so it is important to objectively define what works best for you. This is an area that Third Stage Consulting can help.

Eric Kimberling
Eric is known globally as a thought leader in the ERP consulting space. He has helped hundreds of high-profile enterprises worldwide with their technology initiatives, including Nucor Steel, Fisher and Paykel Healthcare, Kodak, Coors, Boeing, and Duke Energy. He has helped manage ERP implementations and reengineer global supply chains across the world.
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