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From strategic decision to digital implementation: 5 key steps towards success

Authors: Philip Van Puyvelde & Marnik Willems

Starting a large transformation within your organisation is never easy. They are often the result of a strategic decision and touch upon business-critical processes or operations. While the goal or desired end-result might be clear from the outset, the road towards it is most probably not that clear because of the level of complexity. Our experience in leading digital transformations learned that five key steps are often overlooked but enlighten the road towards a successful implementation. Curious to find out what they are?

1. Map the ideal processes

Everything starts by mapping the ideal process with the end users or the product owners. Although the importance of process maps has already been proven by the wide adoption of the method, they are often merely used as documentation. Process maps, however, are the starting point of many valuable discussions on technical functionalities, change management, roles and responsibilities. Process maps do not need to be overly complex. Anyone should be able to quickly grasp it to engage in a discussion with a common point of departure.

Every transformation should be considered as an opportunity and the same goes for a digital implementation. Sticking to mapping the as-is processes is not enough. Processes should always be mapped and designed with the end user in mind. It might not be possible to implement every process step, interface, or business rule but you will have a clear picture of what is desired from a user perspective. Pick your battles from there. A balancing act between business value and technical complexity can lead to valuable discussions and pragmatic solutions.

2. Validate processes

Your process map will allow you to do a feasibility test with all the involved people, departments, and business units. Everyone will have input to share from their personal point of view. For obvious reasons, this can make the process a lot more complex. However, these open discussions can lead to improvements and pragmatic solutions you would otherwise not have thought about. Eventually you will need to validate the process, so why not engaging with all parties and stakeholders from the start?

A digital transformation can bring a lot more value if the business processes are looked at from start to finish and cross-departmental. The limits of the scope of the project, your mandate or buy-in from all stakeholders might not always allow you to do so. In this case, focus on validating the interactions. Is it possible to change the way the information flows? How can the way of working be improved and carried by the – newly defined – process?

3. Translate into clear requirements

After validation, the process needs to be translated into requirements. This does not mean the process map will never change again: unexpected, new information and events are a part of every project. Be open to iterations and communicate clearly: what has changed, what is the impact and, most importantly, why is the change needed?