Successful Digital Transformation Requires Behavioral, Process, and Organization Change

Posted by on June 05, 2018


Silos serve an important function on a farm, but in business, silos create barriers in digital transformation.

Over the past 10 years or so, companies have spent a good deal of resources making technical improvements to different facets of their business, without considering the need for these functions to work together or scale in the future. Successful digital transformation relies on the integration of previously siloed systems and applications into a seamless network that functions as one and automates to save time and money.

Now many organizations are headed halfway down the path of digital transformation but are at a crossroads. To reap the full benefits of digital transformation, companies must stop and evaluate the siloed systems and the tools they’ve been using to understand dependencies and connections.

Help Employees Overcome the Fear of Automation

Although there has long been a drive towards automating processes and systems, some IT shops continue to rely on manual tasks. It’s what people who have worked in the industry for years understand and even prefer. The hesitation to automate is compounded by a mistrust of machines taking over quality control and other tasks previously done by humans and sometimes, by the fear of job loss at the (robot) hands of technology.

To combat this fear from a behavioral perspective, leaders need to create a culture where the commitment to continuous personal and professional development becomes the norm for all employees. As some tasks become automated and roles change, employees will become more likely to embrace the shift because they have the opportunity to learn new skills to adapt to a modern, expanding organization.

Process Makes Perfect

To prevent a technical break in the chain that could lead to unwanted outcomes, business and technical teams need to have clarity and agreement on what those processes are before transitioning to a machine option. For example, once an onboarding process for new employees is determined and agreed upon by all the department touchpoints such as IT (securing a computer and setting up email), HR (orientation and benefits), Finance (payment), etc., it’s easier to take a more unified approach to digitizing the work. Clear and well-designed workflows allow the effective execution of business processes that cross applications and datasets to approach digital transformation using a common architecture.

A "+" Not a "T"

Often in medium to large companies, employees don’t work together across levels for optimal productivity. Not only are different functions within in a company not communicating well, if at all, teams in the same business area sometimes aren’t either.

A well-orchestrated team should be integrated to the degree where the organizational structure looks more like a plus sign than a capital T. Executives should be attuned to employees’ roles and responsibilities and how they function together, not just as a team but based on the work they perform.

It’s important to understand how each person’s job impacts the rest of the group. Sometimes different people do the same work in parallel without speaking with each other, mostly because of lack of information and communication. Instead of making decisions based on solely on what we want to do at the team level, executives need to look more broadly.

Going All-In

The Wright brothers crashed quite a few planes before they had a successful flight. Leaders need to let go of one or two bad experiences to allow for innovation and growth.

And if they help employees thrive in their careers through training and development opportunities; create a culture of openness, unconstrained collaboration, and engagement; and develop unified, scalable, well-designed processes, then failure becomes much less likely.

Leaders can’t go in halfway on digital transformation—they need to jump in with both feet. For some companies, a good first step may be partnering with a service management company ─ like Cherwell ─ with a proven record of guiding companies from design through to successful digital transformation implementation.

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