As the pandemic has shown, businesses desperately need to modernize their processes and adopt digital tools to overcome today’s challenges and meet ever-changing demands. But when faced with that need, they can be quickly overwhelmed by the task ahead. How can they tackle a transformation so deep that encompasses so many projects? How can they start such a journey—and fast?
As you can imagine, that’s far from being easy. But it gets easier if you have an in-depth strategy for it. Planning the digital acceleration lays down the foundations for success and ensures that you adopt valuable solutions that boost your company.
There are many crucial aspects of this strategy, but today, I want to focus on the initial phase of the process, a part so essential that it can make or break the whole journey. That initial phase is all about choosing the right digital projects to work on.
The Difficulty in Choosing the Right Projects
Choosing digital projects to develop in your company might not seem like the hardest thing to do at first glance. How could it be? If your business is lagging behind digitally, then there’s plenty of roads you can take. If you’re already on the path of digital transformation, then you already have a direction to walk to. But that’s precisely the thing—how can you be sure that the projects you end up tackling are precisely what you need right now?
If you still have plenty of work to do, then you might be under the impression that all projects are winners, as any digital project that brings new tech into your company is better than no tech at all. If you’re already digitally transforming, then you may think that there are logical steps to the process that will reveal themselves as you move forward.
Both of those aren’t true.
On one hand, there are digital projects that won’t be winners for you. They might be too complicated to integrate, too costly to develop, too slow to deliver ROI, or, simply, too wrong for your more urgent needs. On the other hand, a digital transformation process doesn’t have a recipe for success. You might develop and integrate certain digital solutions up to a point where you see that the roadmap you’ve planned needs adjustments regarding the next steps to take.
That’s why at BairesDev, we have adopted the more appropriate term of “digital acceleration” to talk about digital adoption in today’s landscape. Digital acceleration is more than just an accelerated digital transformation—it’s a flexible approach to workflow digitization that focuses on quick wins while working steadily toward a deeper transformation.
That’s possible because digital acceleration implies 2 different but simultaneous processes. On one hand, there’s a quick transformation of business operations to meet new demands as soon as possible. On the other hand, there’s the traditional digital transformation of the core infrastructure that has a slower pace. The first is possible by implementing readily available solutions (especially cloud-based), while the second is about developing your own digital tools to boost your infrastructure.
Thus, digital acceleration covers the entire spectrum of needs (both the urgent and the long-term ones) your business may have. And it does that by providing the needed agility to quickly go from one project to another, all carefully selected to provide the most immediate results. Naturally, the “secret” of that selection lies in the underlying approach, which follows a 4-step process to define which is the best digital project to tackle next.
Let’s see that process in detail.
The 4 Steps Toward Digital Acceleration Success
While a digital acceleration process always starts with a clear roadmap in mind, it’s flexible enough to accommodate new needs and take new paths as the process progresses. Both the initial roadmap and the shifts that might come after are all defined using the following 4 steps, which allow you to better identify the digital projects that make the most sense for your business at any given moment.
Those steps include:
1. Deep assessment of available opportunities. The first thing you should do is make a list of all the digital projects you can tackle. Initially, you just need to write them down, but then you’ll need to organize them in order of potential ROI or value. After that, you need to add new factors into the mix, including the required resources (equipment, talent, money, time).
2. Analyze your firepower. The initial assessment will surely be incomplete, as the priorities you set there will be missing a critical component: your ability to tackle each and every one of those projects. That’s why you have to take a look inside your company to check whether you have the know-how, the tools, the data, and the talent available to work on those projects. Knowing that will help you identify which projects you could work on with what you have and which will require more investments in terms of resources.
3. Reprioritize according to relevancy. The analysis above might give you a list of doable and valuable projects, but that doesn’t mean you should go work on them right away. Before doing that, you’ll have to think if the projects at the top of that list make sense in terms of relevance.
For instance, you might find out that integrating automated customer support solutions comes in second after adopting a CRM in terms of ROI. If you have the resources, you might be tempted to go with the CRM first, but maybe your clients are complaining about your customer service right now, which means it’s more relevant to work on the automated solutions first.
Basically, this step is all about pinpointing the solutions that are more relevant to your most pressing pain points.
4. Develop, measure, and start again. Now that you have conducted data-driven analysis for all the projects you could tackle, it’s time to develop those that you can work on and complete the fastest and that will provide a substantial ROI.
After developing and integrating them, the work won’t be over. You’ll need to measure if the assumptions you made to pick those projects were right. Did you complete the development on schedule? Did the solution provide the expected results? Were there unforeseen challenges throughout the development? Measuring all those will allow you to adjust the development process and better identify the next projects you should tackle.
As you can see, identifying the right projects for your company implies a data-driven approach that prioritizes your improvement opportunities based on relevant criteria for your current situation. Naturally, this is easier said than done. It’s likely that you’ll have to make difficult choices when prioritizing projects, even with the data in your hands. While there’s no surefire way to help you when you reach that point, you should always trust your instinct—without neglecting the feedback from stakeholders and staff.
One more thing: You might think that lacking specific resources to work on a specific project is potent evidence that you should lower it on your priority list. But that really depends. For instance, you might be lacking in-house talent to work on a CRM implementation—perhaps CRM engineers or QA testing professionals. You could see this as a major obstacle, but the solution might be easier than you think (in this case, you could hire a QA testing services company to help you fill in the talent gaps).
There are plenty of factors that go into making a decision about the digital projects you should work on. Don’t rush your digital acceleration out of panic or fear. It’s better to get this right and take confident steps moving forward than move quickly only to develop digital failures.