Deploying a large-scale digital technology transformation project is a big undertaking for any organisation. It requires a significant investment not just in terms of budget, but also in terms of capacity from internal teams. So conducting rigorous planning and aligning stakeholder expectations from the outset is vital to its success.
My interactions with customers from different sectors in India have given me some insights into what goes into a successful digital technology deployment. Here are the collective best practices I’ve gleaned.
Start At The Top
One of the themes I see across industries is companies starting with a feature comparison of a digital technology solution. This approach is not ideal. Successful companies start by asking the “what” and the “why” before getting into the features. The first thing you should ask yourself is, “What business metrics do I want to grow exponentially in the next year and where can I implement technology to help do so? Is our current technology constraining us from achieving growth? If so, how will this investment help?”
Answering these questions will give your organisation a much clearer insight into what you want from the outset and will make it much easier to determine what you require, shortlist technology partners, and calculate ROI in subsequent stages.
After answering these questions, successful companies create a first-level relevant feature comparison across technology providers.
Choose An Internal Champion And Form A Core Team
Successful companies designate an internal champion–usually a midlevel manager–who is responsible for all the internal and external components of the project and who will own it from its inception to its completion.
It’s a good idea to form a cross-functional core team from within your organisation to evaluate prospective providers. This should include, for example, digital marketing, product, and technology teams. This helps avoid situations such as the marketing team wanting a solution that may not be feasible given your existing technology architecture.
The formulation of this team means implicit buy-ins from various stakeholders early in the process. It’s also important to involve your agencies from the start of the project if they are going to help to run and operate the technology solution.
Meet Multiple Technology Solution Providers
Take the time to meet many technology providers, who may be able to highlight certain aspects of the implementation that were not apparent during your initial fact-finding phase. This also gives internal teams an opportunity to deep-dive into features that are most relevant for specific use cases.
It may also be of benefit to ask technology providers for examples of projects that didn’t work to better understand what to watch out for. For example, a technology investment may not have paid off due to internal team capabilities, or rushing to do everything in the first six months, or a technology stack not being relevant for a specific use case.
Ask For A Customer Reference
No one can talk about the realities of a technology implementation like an existing customer of a technology provider. Beyond the formal customer reference call, it’s worth reaching out to other companies for feedback early in the process. Use these calls to discuss features that are critical for your business and things that you might have been uncertain about during your evaluation process. It is important to have a customer reference conversation during the evaluation phase and not when you have finalized a technology partner.
Define A Detailed Use Case
Good technology partners may have a large amount of industry expertise, but no one understands your business like you do. Before implementation, it is important to define how the technology will be used in detail to ensure that every aspect has been taken into account and the solution is as comprehensive as possible for your requirements. For example, if you’re implementing a marketing automation solution, the use case needs to include more detail than merely stating “implement drop-off campaigns.” It should instead be granular and include specifics such as the time elapsed for email to be triggered, the sequence that follows for each channel, the personalisation components needed, and the relevant data sources required.
It is important to choose key performance indicators so you have a baseline metric for all successful use cases. Ask yourself what KPIs the investment will affect and what this means for revenue and cost savings.
KPIs will also help you to calculate ROI and develop a standard metric for tracking the success of the investment throughout the technology implementation. Organisations that succeed with their technology investments do this well–KPIs remove ambiguity about the impact of an investment. You should also look at industry benchmarks for things such as cost and ROI so you have a better understanding of what a successful implementation looks like.
Finally, it’s a good idea to form a steering committee comprised of senior stakeholders from your organisation (including your internal champion) and that of your technology providers to ensure you are both equally invested in the project.
This provides a forum for tracking the status of the project’s implementation and resolving any difficulties that may arise.
The success of any digital technology investment depends on a number of factors, so it’s important to have all the elements of a successful build in place from the outset to derive maximum value from such an investment. It is important to have the broader ecosystem in place for a successful digital technology deployment.