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What are the First steps to Digital Transformation?

Chances are you’ve heard the term “digital transformation” thrown around quite a bit lately. It’s been the topic of articles, podcasts, and is the cornerstone which some consulting organizations are built upon. But what does it really mean, and how is it an important concept for the growth of your business?

The largest issue with understanding digital transformation is that it can be used to describe so many different types of initiatives and projects. It can encompass everything from making slight modifications to a specific process and introducing some automation steps, to totally replacing your business systems and completely changing how everyone in your organization works.

Let’s not jump into the deep end just yet. Before leaping off the digital transformation ledge, you must first evaluate a few things about your business and your state of readiness:

  1. Are my employees ready to change how they work on a day to day basis? It’s easy to just say that current processes are inefficient and of course everyone wants to do things faster and easier. But take a step back and really evaluate if your people are ready and willing to change things. Change can be hard. And chances are that you have some people that like working with stacks of paper, folders and filing cabinets. Digital transformation is more about people and process than it is any specific technology. Take the time to really understand the people part of it.

  • Is my business ready for the change from a technology and data standpoint? So often the technology part is glossed over. Or more specifically, the work that needs to go into the technology part. Just take a small example of automation like automatically emailing out invoices. On the surface that sounds super simple and is a great candidate for transformation. Let’s take a manual process and let the business system do it for us. In this example does your current system have the tools to automate the invoices?

  • If not, what new system needs put in place?

  • Do you have the means to run that system?

  • How does this change the current process?

  • Can the current invoice form be utilized or does a special one need made?

  • Is the data in our system good, or will we have invoices sending out to obsolete email addresses?

You can see how it’s easy to quickly get in the weeds on even a simple initiative. Take a step back, map out what needs to happen and put a plan together, even for the seemingly simple things

Finally, are YOU ready from a leadership position to transform your business?

That might sound like a silly question, but before you jump in with both feet it’s important to reflect and make certain that you are prepared to see processes that you probably helped to build get torn apart and replaced. And when things get tough and your people get frustrated, you are going to have to be the voice that continues to promote the light at the end of the tunnel. It can sometimes be a tough road to true change, and you will have to guide everyone down that path.

The key to transforming how your business operates is to start with something small and apply the above to that project. Then, when you are successful on a small scale, you can continue to grow your initiatives and apply the same concepts to broader and even more impactful digital transformation projects.

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