Top things to consider before going through a digital transformation

17 June 2019 by Lauren Smith

So, your organisation is ready for a digital transformation? Perhaps you’ve worked out that your current CRM is no longer catering to your ever-changing needs as an organisation and you need an open, widely supported platform that is flexible and can grow and adapt as you do, such as a CRM Membership system like Microsoft Dynamics 365.

Maybe you’ve decided as an organisation that you need a full digital transformation which includes a new website and a member portal, fully integrated with your CRM Membership system (and Microsoft Dynamics is perfect for this), but where do you start?

Here are our top tips to consider before going through a digital transformation – one of the biggest and most impactful journeys you may ever embark on.

Your vision

Having a vision is crucial. Be clear on what you want to achieve from your digital transformation. How does it fit in with your overarching business strategy? What will success look like for you? Be clear on this and sit down with all your stakeholders to decide on KPIs and dates that you will check progress on. If you start a project but don’t know what you are looking to achieve by having clear quantifiable metrics in writing, then how will you know if your investment is paying off or not? It sounds blindingly obvious, but you would be surprised at how many organisations do not have this ready to go before going into the market to find a digital transformation partner.

Finally, don’t assume your staff know what you are thinking in terms of your vision because you mentioned it a couple of times in a meeting. Be clear on your vision and communicate it to all staff. Ideally, your employees should be able to articulate where you see yourself as an organisation in three to five years’ time and how you plan to get there. Bring your staff on this journey with you because if they don’t know where you are planning to get to, don’t expect them to be fully on board and motivated to do everything you'll need them to do to get you there.

An internal audit

Before going out into the market to find a partner to meet all your digital transformation needs, carry out an internal audit of your existing technology and staff’s skill set. What have you already got in terms of existing technology? What processes or tasks does it allow your staff to carry out? Do you have any software that is linked or relies on existing embedded technology to allow it to work? And if so, how will any integrations or shifts to automation affect it? It may also be worth speaking with similar organisations to see what system integrations are working for them however a reputable partner will already have this information available to support your research and considerations at this stage.

Document the specific skill set of your staff and who is likely to be an advocate of the project as well as those you feel may struggle with the change. User adoption is usually the trickiest part of undertaking a digital transformation, so anything you identify as a potential blocker to making your project journey as smooth as possible should be flagged upfront and you should put a plan in place to mitigate any problems you can foresee. Likewise, anyone you identify as a potential advocate should be noted – you could bring them in as a lead trainer depending on the size of your departments and position it as a learning opportunity to them.

Consider ways to improve your digital culture

Think forward. Create a digital culture that allows for out-of-the-box thinking among your employees – failing fast, thinking big and imagining forward. A successful digital culture will reward not just success, but creative failure.

If your employees have the freedom to innovate, to be creative, to fail and most importantly, learn from their failures, you'll see more growth—for your employees and your organisation.

Be open to change. We often think that adopting new technology means we’re changing our organisation. But technology itself can’t replace leadership and values—and those are the ultimate drivers of digital culture and change. So, before you even adopt new technology within your company, ask yourself this: are you really open to changing your digital culture? Or are you hoping to stick to “business as usual”—except, maybe a bit faster, more efficient, with more automated features? If the latter, we would recommend skipping the technology altogether.

There are too many organisations doing culture better and stronger. In today’s digital marketplace, a half-baked digital culture just won’t cut it.

Robust research for a potential partner

Once you are clear on your vision and have carried out an internal audit, you should be ready to find a partner.

It’s important to bear in mind that this isn’t a one-off transaction – you can’t buy the license, install the software and hope your staff will work it out without any support. Your chosen partner will be able to guide you on how you should govern the project internally from start to finish. You will need a partner to be with you on this journey for around three to five years.

At this stage, it’s wise to create a document with a scoring system based on your needs. Invite potential partners to come and visit you and understand your vision before they give you a demo and score them accordingly. Once your partner understands your requirements – they will be in the best position to guide you and help you understand how they would steer the project to meet your goals and objectives. Listen to your partner – they are the experts and have seen and done this kind of work countless times. They are there to give you advice and mitigate any problems throughout your digital transformation project as much as possible.

A few months ago we published questions you should ask potential partners at this stage – read part one and part two, which will also help you procure a good Membership CRM and CMS system.

Finally, be clear on your budget and be ready to communicate it when asked. If you aren’t ready to disclose this information to your potential partner, then you could potentially be wasting everyone’s time including your own.

Want to hear more about these themes live at an event?

chase live, the number 1 leadership conference for the non-profit sector, being held on 4th July 2019, will deliver a jam-packed programme based around the four cornerstones of any NFP organisation’s strategy – Digital, Leadership, Culture and Innovation.

Delve into the topic of culture further with us live in person

Join our CEO and founder, Ahmed Eltohamy and Alex Xavier from the Institute of Fundraising discuss whether culture is a pillar or barrier in digital transformation.

Free for leaders and managers of non-profit organisations

Find out more about our session and register your interest to attend.