4 Essential Steps to Take Before Starting Your Digital Transformation
August 25, 2021
At a glance
- The main takeaway: Before you invest in new technology for your restaurant, franchise or retail business, you need to take a step back and assess your current tech infrastructure.
- Action steps to take: You must identify gaps, develop tactical and big-picture strategies for accomplishing your goals, and gain buy-in to give your tech roadmap a solid foundation.
- Get professional expertise: Undergoing a digital transformation is no easy feat, but Aprio’s experts can provide the guidance and resources needed to ensure long-term success.
The full story:
In order to invest in the right tools and tech trends, businesses need to conduct some internal reflection and take important strategic steps. Here are a few action items to add to your punch list to assess your existing technology infrastructure, set the right goals and determine an appropriate plan for achieving them.
1. Take a “play-to-win” approach to strategic planning
It’s important to take stock of your current technology environment and complete exercises that allow you to determine strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and areas of improvement. This is also a good time to explore your long-term goals and vision for digital transformation and how technology will fuel your business going forward. What will technology help you achieve? Why?
Align your organization’s aspirational goals with the specifics of where you want to compete in the marketplace. Outline clearly how you envision winning in this space against your competitors. At Aprio, we call this the “play-to-win” approach. This is the process of defining the playing field on which your organization will compete, which encompasses geography, product segments, consumer segments, distribution channels and stages of production. The “win” piece outlines how you will succeed on the playing field you have chosen — in other words, what is your competitive advantage? What does it mean to win with your customers? How will you be a differentiator in the space?
When you take the play-to-win approach, you embrace the process by understanding that strategy is about making choices; it’s about increasing your odds of success and combines rigor with creativity to get where you need to go. By taking these steps first, you can confidently move on to the second step of your implementation.
2. Outline your capabilities
In order to reach your play-to-win strategic objectives, you need to define a specific set of capabilities your organization needs to deliver.
Identify the top capabilities that offer real competitive advantages in your marketplace. These capabilities should be vital to most of your business units and make a decisive difference in “winning” your segment of the market. It often helps to map out these capabilities visually to understand how they intertwine and determine roles and responsibilities across units.
In doing this, you also need to reinforce the shared capabilities that cut across various different facets of your business. This creates a multiplier effect of positive outcomes for your entire organization, and importantly, it helps increase buy-in and support of your technology initiatives.
3. Define your management systems
No technology implementation is successful without adoption and buy-in from your organization’s key stakeholders. Management systems can help bridge the gap.
Essentially, management systems are the processes, structures and rules that reinforce and measure your organization’s strategic choices. Create supporting systems and structures that cultivate your capabilities and develop metrics that tell you how well you’re delivering on your strategic choices. This exercise enables you to do a few different things:
- Create strategic dialogues: Gather your stakeholders and set aside dedicated time to review your strategies and identify areas for improvement. This also allows you to establish a forum for assertive inquiries from stakeholders and address their concerns.
- Promote measurement: As the saying goes, “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” Make sure to measure your specific, desired outcomes in various areas and record them for continuous improvement throughout the implementation process.
- Communicate openly: Make it a priority to communicate your strategy clearly by focusing on your core objectives and keeping your message clear and simple.
- Build capabilities: Invest in systems to support and strengthen your core capabilities and ultimately increase your chances of success.
When developing your management systems and creating the business case to justify technology investments, you need to thoroughly examine the risks and barriers involved. Do you risk losing market share or competitive footing if you do not make your technology investments? From an internal standpoint, what barriers to entry do you foresee when it comes to technology? How do you plan on addressing and breaking down those barriers? Map these out while developing your management systems to define the obstacles preventing success and then create a path to build executable strategies with necessary priorities.
4. Define and start implementing your technology roadmap
Once you have completed the steps above, it’s time to create the roadmap that puts your tech implementation into action. Your roadmap should include ultra-specific timelines to help unify the technology changes across your business and remove any obstacles that may prevent your success, as discussed above. The roadmap should also streamline automation to ensure all tech enhancements are implemented efficiently and introduce data monetization so you can continue to measure the financial and economic benefits of technology for reporting purposes.
Oftentimes, big-picture conversations about technology will give way to a laundry list of ideas — from tools to implement to trends to capitalize on. In creating your roadmap, you also need to sift through the sea of potential projects to isolate the ones that will advance your play-to-win strategy and drive value for your business.
At Aprio, our Digital Transformation Advisory team guides clients through this exact exercise, which we’ve illustrated in the visual graphic below:
Essentially, narrowing the scope allows you to laser-focus on the initiatives that will deliver measurable growth and exceptional digital experiences for your customers, employees, partners and third-party vendors. These will be the flagship initiatives that transform and level up your technology infrastructure.
The bottom line
Though the process of assessing and enhancing your tech infrastructure may seem complex, it is essential to your long-term success. Having the right context and implementation roadmap in place ensures cohesion and helps you overcome the “silo mentality” that so many businesses fall prey to on the road to digital transformation.
At Aprio, our Digital Transformation Advisory team routinely guides clients through the steps we outlined above and helps businesses of all sizes grow and thrive with the right technology.
Schedule a free consultation to find out how we can help your business as you embarak on your digital transformation journey.
About the Author
Jeff Kramer is Aprio's Executive Vice President of Digital Transformation Advisory and Cybersecurity | Specializing in providing managed IT solutions and advisory services to small, medium and large businesses in manufacturing, consumer products and insurance. In an evolving world, Jeff is there to provide ever-adapting solutions to meet any client needs.