5 Key Digital Transformation Success Factors

Digital transformation projects can be difficult to implement but a lot of the time, reasons for failure are written up to human inefficiency, and the longer an organisation has been structured in a certain way, the harder it can be to change.

So what are the key digital transformation success factors that can help prevent failure? Here are the top five.

  1. Building on Future Workforce Capabilities
  2. Employing the Correct Digitally-Aware Leaders
  3. Changing the Way Staff Think and Working Collaboratively
  4. Communicating Frequently via Digital and Non-Digital Methods 
  5. Upgrading Day-to-Day Tools


1. Building on Future Workforce Capabilities

Something that can ensure success is to provide an environment where employees can develop their talents and gain new ones. Digital transformation means a workforce needs to have or create digital capabilities - you can’t have one without the other.

As employees are trained up in new ways to digitally innovate, they act as ‘integrators’. Integrators are individuals who translate new digital models and processes into the existing architecture of the organisation. 

Think of a swimming teacher with a class of young students who, after being taught to swim, go on to teach their children. The principle is that, as we enable our workforce to grow skill-wise, growth is supported exponentially. Integrators are best-suited for connecting the traditional to the digital as well as convincing any naysayers of the transformation along the way. 

A lot of this depends on your recruitment process. By utilising innovative recruitment campaigns that don’t conform to traditional hiring processes, you’re more likely to attract those potentials who are specialised enough to ensure increased efficiency.

2. Employing the Correct Digitally-Aware Leaders

According to a 2016 survey conducted by Liferay, 31% of respondents working in the public sector believe organisational change to be one of their biggest challenges when it comes to digital transformation. It’s hard to break out of processes that have been in place for years and adopt a new, more agile way of thinking. 

That’s why it’s important to not only implement change across the board (from top-down to bottom-up) but to also ensure you have a strong team of leaders in place for success. A digital transformation framework is only as strong as the people that lead it. 

These leaders or managers should not only be tech savvy. They should also be united to the cause - the reason for adopting digital transformation. Without this universal commitment, your digital transformation could be left dead in the water.

Management-level roles need to act as integrators who can bridge any potential gaps between the old and the new. This top-down approach can help ensure your digital success going forward.

3. Changing the Way Staff Think and Working Collaboratively

The same survey by Liferay found the tallest hurdles for public sector workers involved in a digital transformation project were:

  • Organisational change - breaking away from the familiar, long-established ways of working.
  • Migrating data from existing systems to new and the integration - whether the legacy systems workers have been using for years will successfully integrate with the new systems.
  • Shortage of skills and capability - a mixture of inadequately trained staff and inability to recruit trained staff might prohibit a public sector body from truly embracing digital transformation.

To help ensure success, we need to establish new ways of working and thinking, through behavioural change and by changing formal mechanisms. These can be simple or complex, with examples including creating a format of continuous learning or by developing an open work environment.

These changes should also be transparent and democratic with employees able to have their say and generate their own ideas concerning the process. If employees can either own or play a major role in a transformation project, it’s more likely to survive as it holds people accountable and can act as an incentive.

Risk-taking and experimentation is another factor to consider. Imagine a system of rapid prototyping where employees and teams can test new functions to determine which is the most efficient. This is the type of thinking that can garner success.

When it comes to innovation, collaboration within your organisation and across departments is key for success - as demonstrated by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). In 2019, Simon McKinnon, Chief Digital and Information Officer (interim) spoke about the ongoing project and how it started with changing their internal culture at DWP Digital and working collaboratively across the rest of DWP.

These changes in the ways of thinking and working have been part of the reasons why DWP's digital transformation project has been so successful. 

4. Communicate Frequently via Digital and Non-Digital Methods

Digital transformation relies on a properly-communicated change narrative - a story that helps employees to understand why the transformation is taking place. 

This narrative needs to be rich, detailed and communicated in a way that incentivises and excites employees about the possibilities. It also needs to include clear targets and KPIs that employees can understand.

Similarly, remote and digital communications need to be used to convey both the vision and the technical side of things before and during implementation.

5. Upgrading Day-To-Day Tools

Another key success factor for digital transformation is the digitisation of tools and processes. Firstly, information needs to be more widely accessible. This means using a company-wide platform or utilising real-time data capture to ensure proper and accurate data analysis. 

Secondly, employees also stand to benefit from self-serve technologies. These will vary from organisation to organisation, but they’re technologies that allow individuals to produce services, reports or actions independent of the involvement of another. Not only do they speed up processes but they also allow for increased transparency and further skills development for end-users.

Finally, to bring about effective digital transformation, organisations need to modify their normal operations so they include new technologies. They should be screened for effectiveness, given a proper goal to work towards and explained to the relevant employees. These are the top success factors for digital transformation but there are obviously others. 

If you’d like to learn more about issues like t and the wider role of technology within the public sector then please do join us at the UK’s leading public sector tech event.

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Taking place on the 8th-9th May at the Excel in London DigiGov Expo will enable you to:

  • Meet and network with 2,400+ fellow public sector tech professionals across the two days.
  • Learn from 150+ exhibitors who are on the frontline of providing technological solutions to public sector challenges.
  • Hear from key figures including Sue Bateman – CDDO, Keith Dargie - Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, Lord Francis Maude, Daljit Rehal – HMRC and many others including representatives from the Alan Turing Institute, Cabinet Office Digital, the ICO, Innovate UK, the NAO and many more across 4 theatres.
  • Forecast future tech trends with a clear and progressive roadmap of what’s to come.

Download the Cultural Transformation Roadmap

There are many things you need to know about cultural transformation before it’s successfully rolled out to your organisation. The best practices, key information, benefits and importance - it’s all covered in our guide.

If you’d like to learn more about cultural transformation, how it relates to digital transformation and even gain insight from the experts, download the guide by clicking the link below.

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