13 September 2022

How to effectively manage a digital transformation project

We spoke to Matt Such, Vice President of Operational Excellence at coaching business MDA Leadership, to find out more about the role of digital transformation projects and how to effectively manage them.
11 min read
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Amy Gallagher
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As the business world continues to adopt new innovative ways of working, digital transformation is becoming an increasingly important part of business management. Companies are using technology to stay competitive and maximize efficiency, especially in saturated industries. We spoke to Matt Such, Vice President of Operational Excellence at coaching business MDA Leadership, to find out more about the role of digital transformation projects and how to effectively manage them. He joined the company to pinpoint the main areas that the business needed to digitize, with scheduling being his first port of call.


What is digital transformation?


Digital transformation is a broad term. It's all about improving existing business processes with the help of technology, literally transforming the way a process has been done, often changing it from manual to digital. This is done to improve factors like accuracy, accountability, and precision in order to boost the efficiency and agility of an organization.

It’s becoming more important to digitize processes in order to stay competitive, regardless of the industry you’re in. Business leaders are recognizing the value in digital transformation and prioritizing it in their business future plans; research from Statista states that global investment in digital transformation is expected to almost double between the years 2022, from $1.8 trillion and 2025 to $2.8 trillion.

With all of this work to digitize, it’s crucial to have effective management of digital transformation projects to ensure they’re a success. However managing these projects is complex and time-consuming. Planning is key, so before a business embarks on any digital transformation they need to have an expert project manager to take the helm.


Why is digital transformation so important?


In the modern age, everything is turning digital.

The simple truth is that companies that create and implement a digital transformation plan see higher revenues, increased performance, and better customer retention. Accenture’s Technology Vision 2021 report found that the top ten percent of companies leading tech innovation achieve two to three times the revenue growth compared with their competitors.

Digitizing isn’t just about staying competitive, it’s about improving your employees’ day-to-day lives and subsequently morale within the team. They can be more efficient and do the higher-value tasks that benefit the business instead of wasting too much time on admin. This is the reasoning behind why Matt chose to implement Cronofy’s scheduling platform to replace the existing manual scheduling process.

“We have 50 staff working for our organization, and a big chunk of that number, around 20%, is dedicated solely to scheduling meetings. Whether this be interviews, coaching sessions, feedback sessions, business simulations, the coaching industry is based upon scheduling meetings between consultants and clients. That was hundreds of hours of effort a month.”

With business and demand for their services growing quickly, it was hard for the staff to keep up and easily find people’s availability. Scheduling became a pain point. Digital transformation often comes about due to a stressful, inefficient process and business growth, becoming unsustainable as the business scales.


Digital transformation challenges


With any business change there will be challenges along the way – transforming embedded business processes can naturally prove tricky to navigate.

People being resistant to change

Going digital can be daunting for a lot of teams. In MDA Leadership’s case, a lot of the employees had worked there for many years and were used to a certain way of working. Because of this, it was crucial for Matt to address and dispel any anxieties before fully implementing the new scheduling processes.

“We have many staff members that have been here for long periods of time – sometimes it’s the only place they’ve ever worked,” Matt explained. “Naturally they met the new scheduling process with some trepidation. Moving away from the way things have been done for the last 40 years and installing technology on top of that is a lot to take in. For me, it was all about getting people comfortable with the technology. We did a pilot test with a select few employees and presented the results back to the whole team, so they could see exactly how it would benefit them.”

Getting the board bought in

The people in your business with the buying power also have to buy into the digital transformation process and support the work and changes that need to be made. These changes may at first have an impact on productivity due to time spent training and generally changing from one system to another, but once fully implemented will greatly improve team efficiency. This needs to be consistently communicated to the board and backed up with concrete figures to ensure confidence in your decisions.

System migration

It can prove to be a logistical nightmare changing over from a deeply ingrained process and getting a new one set up for the company. There needs to be careful planning and strategy before any implementation takes place to avoid any risk of a meltdown. Business productivity needs to continue even in these times of upheaval, so any way of making the implementation as quick and painless as possible is beneficial. Having a step-by-step roll-out planned


How to be an effective manager during a digital transformation


Identify business needs

Any digital leader who doesn't talk and listen to the people within the business to identify key requirements first is setting themselves up for digital transformation failure. Matt prioritized scheduling due to talking extensively with team members and identifying what they needed to make their days more productive.

“I chose scheduling as the first major project for two main reasons. Firstly, it will reduce the burden on that dedicated group to schedule all of these meetings and give them some space to be able to do the other things that the firm needs them to do.

“It’s also about giving a better experience to our clients. MDA is pretty white glove and we prioritize the customer experience, so a back and forth several times just to get one meeting scheduled didn’t match that approach.”

Open communication

The shift to digital can be jarring, especially to those who are so used to a certain way of working. Communication is key in digital transformation. Presentations, regular meetings, emails and one-to-one sessions can all help keep your team in the know and help them feel at ease with the change. Hone in on their existing pain points and explain how the new process will solve these problems.

“The consultants were worried that clients would have too much power over their calendars if we implemented automated scheduling,” Matt said. “ This anxiety is why it was so important for us to communicate and explain to everyone how the new processes would work so they would actually use the new technology.”

Train everyone

Staff don’t just need to know the why but the how when changing a process. If a new technology is implemented and people are expected to use it without adequate training, this could lead to all kinds of problems from team morale to business efficiency. Dedicate the time to train all members of the team in how to use the new systems and ensure they feel comfortable using it. Although this impacts productivity in the short-term, it safeguards the effectiveness of your digital transformation in the long-term.

Keep customer experience in mind

Technology is just the starting point of digital transformation. It’s all about finding ways to use systems and services to meet new customer demands. This was the case for MDA Leadership, as smooth and easy scheduling for clients, on their terms, made them feel their time was respected and they didn’t have to put effort into back-and-forth emailing. This was especially crucial considering MDA Leadership deals mostly with C-Suite and Executive-level business leaders who are generally strapped for time.

“The inevitability of working with executives a lot is that they need to reschedule. And when that happens, that process starts all over again. So it was a high level of effort just to get that piece of the business done, not just for the consultant but for the client. Automated scheduling was an obvious solution to improve their experience from the start of working with us.”

Conclusion


Naturally as digital innovation continues to be created, businesses will continue to change and adapt. It’s becoming an unavoidable part of business management – to stay competitive, digital transformation needs to be embraced. It’s important to manage this change in a way that will benefit your customers, business, and people the most. Although a daunting undertaking, having the right plans in place and a dedicated digital transformation leader will help make the shift as smooth as possible.