How to Save Time on Your Digital Transformation

Written By: Eric Kimberling
Date: October 16, 2021

With the rapid change happening within the business world, organizations are constantly on a quest to figure out how to speed up their digital transformations in order to respond to an unpredictable market. This blog will deliver some tips on how to accelerate the digital transformation process in your business.

We noticed an exponential acceleration since the pandemic started in 2020 because of the disruptions and economic changes in the world. Companies are searching for strategies to adapt through the use of technology as fast as possible.

However, speed often produces mistakes, overlooking possibilities, and options. Therefore, I will talk about ways to hasten a digital transformation while avoiding common pitfalls.

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Low Code Technology

During digital transformation, organizations are tempted by the concept of changing the source code and customized technology. The biggest obstacle to fast transformation is the concept of customizing software.

Once the technology changes in a way it was not meant to be built, it entails risk, additional cost, and expanded timelines. It would be great to change software without breaking it as many organizations do. The answer to that is the emerging concept of low code technology.

Low code is a way to maximize the flexibility of the technology, workflows, and user experience without actually changing the source code of the software. With low code, the technology would survive upgrades, cloud updates, and similar aspects. Low code assists in mitigating some of that risk that comes along with customized software, it is a powerful toolset to change the software to fit your future state business needs.

Yet, low code will not solve all of your problems. It may even create some additional problems in the process of solving some. It could offer powerful options to change the software without increasing your time and cost, unlike customization. However, it introduces other risks that force you to have a clearer definition of your future state requirements of the software in order to leverage these low code tools to speed up your transformation.

Aligned Strategy and Roadmap

Another big obstacle to the rapid deployment of technology is a lack of alignment between your strategy as an organization and the actual transformation itself. An example of misalignment is when your business strategy is to standardize business processes across the organization, but your digital transformation is focused on creating a certain amount of flexibility in carrying out the operation within the organization. Moreover, it will create several headwinds hindering the plan and budget implementation.

One of the most effective methodings in converting these bottlenecks that are slowing down your project is to dedicate time during your digital transformation. And ultimately prior to beginning of your digital transformation. Securing and communiting a clear alignment on what your strategy is, what you are trying to accomplish through the transformation, and subsequently, ensure that your overall transformation strategy is aligned with the plan.

Finally, it is important to note that strategy alignment is a continuous process that should continue through the entire transformation. As your organization undergoes changes by introducing new technologies, it can be very easy to get misaligned or go astray from the initial plan and proceed in different directions. It is important to dedicate a substantial amount of time on ensuring that you have that alignment throughout your transformation.

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Best of Breed and Agile

Another common strategy for accelerating digital transformation is to leverage best-of-breed solutions and agile deployment methods. Best of breed translates as finding distinctive technologies that support different parts of your business. Instead of employing one big ERP system that does everything. This can help speed the transformation process when you are not trying to align everything at once and focus on smaller parts.

Agile deployment methods can be another way to speed the transformation. Rather than one massive change at once, it is focused on making incremental improvements and slowly rolling out pieces of technologies.

The concept is related to best of breed, but not quite the same. The best option becomes to leverage best of breed and agile approaches in project management and software deployments to ensure a faster transformation than a traditional software development cycle would take.

Even though these two strategies sound auspicious methods to speed up the process of digital transformation, given the benefits and the advantages which I mentioned, still both solutions include a few downsides and risks. There is an entire dark side and drawback that need to be discussed when adopting either of these two methods. Hereinafter, I am going to talk more about the risks included.

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Crafting a Solid Roadmap

A solid plan covering tasks, responsibilities, milestones, and every aspect of the transformation is vital, but it has to be realistic. One of the biggest challenges you can create is to have an overly aggressive plan that seems realistic on paper, but in reality, it will take a lot longer. Therefore, you need to make sure that the plan is robust but manageable, and will ensure that you can implement and transform your business quickly.

We often recommend to our clients to define their technology roadmap and to take a time out before deploying the technology, and even hold off on buying any systems until the implementation planning process. You need to have a complete program plan that encompasses all the different components of digital transformation, including people, process, technology, and strategy.

One of the most important actions you can do in speeding up your project is to be slow and intentional in the beginning. This will certify that your plan is solid and can ultimately speed up later on. In other words, you need to invest time upfront to speed things up later on, in order to guarantee the net effect of the fast implementation instead of executing an unrealistic plan.

Project Execution

Once the plan is ready and the above aspects have been taken care of, the next step is to make sure the execution is done quickly. This involves very strong project management, and I am not talking about technology project managers provided by most software vendors that act as technical leads. You need a strong business and digital transformation project manager to manage the entire process. Many of our clients hire our team at Third Stage for effective project management and quality assurance.

Another dimension of speed implementation is to be quick in identifying risks before their occurrence. With the right project management experience, you have people that can anticipate risks and mitigate them before they become problems or start to delay your project. The risks can be related to change management resistance or technical issues, but the experience will allow you to realize that you might be creating risk or potentially punting a problem down the road later on.

Finally, you need to make sure your team and project stay aligned, and that the overall transformation stays aligned with your corporate strategy. When these start to get out of synchronization, it will eventually slow the entire transformation down. It’s more of art behind speeding up the entire digital transformation execution, not so much science as it might sound.

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The Dark Side of Speed

In project management, there is a concept called the “Project Management Triangle” that reflects on three dimensions, speed, cost, and quality. Unfortunately, you cannot have all three, but you need to pick two that are the most important to you. In other words, you cannot have a fast project execution, that is inexpensively, and of very high quality. That is one of the biggest problems that organizations face during their quest for speed.

In addition to this limitation, you need to make sure to watch out for those pitfalls of perceived silver bullets in speeding up your projects. It is important to dive in with eyes wide open while remaining realistic so that you avoid falling victim to myths, like buying the concept of pre-configured solutions or misplacing trust in blind believers.

Additional Resources

I hope this information has given you some guidance on how to speed up your project and how to assess some of the tradeoffs in speed vs. quality. I encourage you to download our 2021 Digital Transformation Report for additional implementation and software selection insights. Please also feel free to reach out to me directly, if you want an informal sounding board or brainstorm session regarding your project.

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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.

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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