All small business owners understand that change is inevitable. After all, finding a horse carriage repair shop is now somewhat more difficult than it was just 100 years ago. But when change happens so quickly that the term “transformation” becomes more appropriate, it’s easy to start feeling anxious about it.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, many small businesses have realized that they’re either quickly outgrowing their current technology, or they’ve have outgrown it already. The solution is obvious, and it involves nothing less than the digital transformation of outdated, leftover systems and manual processes. But how can a small business with limited resources accomplish such a seemingly difficult objective? By creating a bullet-proof digital transformation strategy and using it as a roadmap to focus efforts, pace spending, and phase in the adoption of new technologies. That sounds like a lot when spelled out, but the right plan will help you stay on track while not overburdening your bank accounts or your staff.
What Is Digital Transformation?
The term digital transformation is commonly defined as the use of digital technologies to improve business processes, change organizational culture, and enhance the customer experience.
Digital transformation initiatives are characterized by their broad impact, affecting:
- People: who must acquire new skills and adjust their way of thinking to take advantage of the newly implemented technologies.
- Processes: which must be updated to automate previously manual processes.
- Equipment: that may have to be upgraded or replaced to support new software tools.
Because digital transformation journeys involve so much change, it’s best to approach them strategically and move forward one step at a time. For companies that move at a sustainable pace and protect their users’ experience, return on investment is actually seen quite quickly (and is exactly the reason that so many small businesses are currently embracing the change). These include increased efficiency, improved collaboration, better customer experience, enhanced data security, and reduced operational costs.
Anyone Can Create a Successful Digital Transformation Strategy
Creating a successful digital transformation strategy isn’t nearly as complicated as it may seem from a distance. In fact, you can create one in just five simple steps—even if you’re just a small business with a few employees.
Step #1: Clearly Identify Your Objectives
You will never be able to achieve your digital transformation objectives without first clearly identifying them. You can start by answering the following questions:
- Where are existing business processes breaking down and where can they be made more efficient?
- Which types of technologies that would make employees’ lives easier?
- Have our competitors outpaced us in any way and, if so, in which areas?
- Do our customers get to enjoy a modern customer experience?
- What are the biggest challenges that we face on a daily basis?
All organizations are different, so remember that your digital transformation objectives must reflect your unique needs, requirements, and priorities. Otherwise, they might not be worth pursuing at all.
Step #2: Assess Your Current Technology State
For many small businesses, this is usually the most confusing and difficult part of the journey. An organization that has already modernized and automated at least some of its processes will almost always find it much easier to further embrace digitalization than an organization that still relies mostly on manual processes.
When assessing the current technology state, it’s important to go beyond creating a simple inventory of software and hardware assents. The entire digital infrastructure should be analyzed to identify gaps that need to be filled and areas that could be made more efficient using modern IT solutions. All systems should be combed for possible break areas, bad integration points, and security risks.
Step #3: Pick the Right Technologies for You
Once you have a good understanding of where you want to go and know where you currently are, it’s time to pick the right technologies to get you from point A to point B. While this may sound like a relatively straightforward task, especially for someone who is tech-savvy, its importance can’t be stressed enough.
These days, there’s almost an overwhelming number of vendors, platforms, and IT solutions to choose from, and not all key differences between them may be immediately obvious. By making the wrong choice, you risk not having your needs met, spending more money than necessary, and getting stuck in a vendor lock-in situation. Getting stuck in the software revolving door is a reality for most small business who don’t have the time to devote to a real solution discovery and selection process. And that’s one of the most expensive (and dizzying) situations to find yourself stuck in.
Step #4: Put Together an Implementation Roadmap
Digital transformation requires a lot of change for your employees, your customers, and you culture, which is why it’s a good idea to execute it in phases. To put together a well-thought-out implementation roadmap, start by grouping individual transformation tasks into logical bundles.
Since some transformation tasks depend on others, your next step should be to transform the bundles of tasks into a roadmap consisting of multiple stages. Each stage can be a single column, and each row can be a single bundle of tasks. You can then simply follow the roadmap from left to right and top to bottom until you accomplish all of your digital transformation goals.
Step #5: Measure and Track the Impact of Implemented Changes
Digital transformation isn’t a one-and-done project. The pace of technological progress is too fast for organizations to implement a bunch of new technologies and call it a day. To start with, you need to measure and track the impact of implemented changes so that you can evaluate how effective they actually are and make necessary adjustments.
You also need to stay on top of the changing technology landscape (like evolving security threats, updates and patches to your new technology, and new features and functionality that your admin and users need to be trained on) so these new systems don’t suddenly become more burdensome then helpful. This alone can be a time-consuming endeavor, which is one of the biggest reasons that small businesses should consider traveling through their digital transformation journey with a trusted partner who can provide the power and security of a full-scale IT department for one predictable price.
Help Desk Cavalry is helping small businesses in Kitsap County implement full-scale digital transformation plans and automate time-consuming manual processes. And our goal is to make your journey as easy on your management and employees as technology allows. Contact us to learn more about what we can do for your organization.