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Digital Transformation: People and Teams

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Dom graham

Published on 21st August 20193 min read

When we think about digital transformation, it’s easy to focus on technology. After all, it’s advances in technology that are driving the need for change. We have all sorts of new tools at our fingertips, creating new opportunities and new revenue streams. However, technology is based around human interactions; it aims to improve the way we work and to create a better experience for both our customers and our employees. To make this possible, it is vital for digital transformation to have buy-in from the entire organisation. 

Digital transformation will not work with technology alone; it needs people to drive the change. This starts with building a winning digital transformation team who can inspire the rest of the business to adapt to new ways of working, accept new processes and, ultimately, to transform.  

Building a Project Team

As with building any good team, getting the right mix of people involved is fundamental. Each role within a digital transformation team should complement the others. While organisations need digital talent, the key is also including people from each area of the business. Wherever an organisation is on their digital transformation journey, they should only trust internal people to represent the best needs of their business. After all, digital transformation is business transformation at its core.  

To start building a digital transformation team, the brightest and best people from each area of the business need to be identified. More often than not, these are the people who are extremely busy and heavily engaged in their existing roles and responsibilities. They need to be people that are natural leaders, people who can inspire others, people who have authority to make decisions and, of course, people who have a vested interest in the success of digital transformation. 

The core digital transformation project team should be made up of both business and technology members. The team needs to be cross-discipline; it is no good if IT leads change and doesn’t interact with the business. It is the bond between IT, the business and the project team that will help propel the project through difficult moments. Everyone on the team will need to be committed to attend project status meetings and give input during review cycles. 

Core Team Roles and Responsibilities

The number of people on a core digital transformation team will vary according to the size of the business, the scope of the project and the availability of resources. However, generally, a core team will be somewhere in the region of six to 10 people. 

The core roles on a digital transformation team will vary but need a blend of creativity, strategy and customer support. A core digital transformation team will likely include some or all of the following: 

  • Digital Business Vision Owner – defining the principal business measures and objectives for digital. 
  • Product Manager – ensuring the digital value proposition is realised and maintaining the product roadmap to align with the business vision
  • User Experience Manager – developing and maintaining user experience standards and defining the look and feel of digital products.
  • Content Development Manager – ensuring content is easy to understand and consistent with the tone of voice of the business.
  • Development Lead – selecting frameworks and defining coding standards for any technologies that will be used. Managing enterprise systems and developing standards to protect their integrity.
  • Data Specialist – developing digital specific data models, managing data and monitoring the health of databases. 
  • Infrastructure – maintaining the physical hardware used for applications and data and managing security of the infrastructure environment. 
  • Quality Assurance Manager – creating QA standards for new code, developing test scripts and executing integrations. 
  • Marketing Manager – managing many key digital operations and developing offers and campaigns to drive traffic
  • Business Development Manager – creating new partnerships and finding new revenue streams
  • Customer Support Manager – maintaining knowledge of digital platforms and policies and assisting customers with problems. 

By ensuring core roles cover the digital business team, the technology team and the extended business team, businesses can ensure they have the range of competencies they need to drive their digital transformation journey forward. 

How to Involve People Outside of the Core Project Team

A digital transformation team will not have the weight it needs if it doesn’t have support from the rest of the business. It is vital to involve people from outside of the core project team if they are expected to feel invested in the success of the project. 

A key way to involve people is to create digital transformation champions. These are executive-level employees with a close relationship with customers. Champions can help lead digital transformation efforts by ensuring projects are focused on making an impact in the market. Most importantly, however, is the ability for champions to inspire buy-in from the whole company. Ideally, each department will have a digital transformation leader who can help the executive champion distil messages to all levels of the organization.

How to Engage with Employees

For digital transformation to be a success, the full participation of the whole organisation is needed. This includes everyone from the boardroom to the frontline. Transformation is unlikely to fail due to a lack of technology, but it is much more likely to fail if the people who are serving customers aren’t engaged in the process. To ensure that employees are engaged it’s vital to:

  • Communicate – ensuring progress is communicated early, often and, if possible, creatively. Creating a dialogue around progress further increases its chance of success.
  • Listen – communication isn’t only one way. Making it easy for employees to share ideas and opinions is key to increasing engagement. 
  • Train – educating employees about digital transformation and upskilling them to be able to use digital tools to facilitate their ways of working is crucial. 
  • Empower –letting employees know how their involvement can impact on success. 
  • Rethink – it’s not only technology that will change, the roles and responsibilities of frontline staff will too. 
  • Learn – using data from frontline staff interactions gives an incredible opportunity for innovation and growth. 

Leading Successful Digital Transformation

Digital transformation starts with leadership. If the whole organization is to be involved and inspired, this should come from the very top. While many think that it is the CIO or CDO who should lead, they need to be supported and led by the CEO and the rest of the executive team. 

Having the right people in place can make the difference between success and failure of digital transformation. Digital transformation should be a top-to-bottom process. The business needs to be reconsidered, creating the right culture, processes and technology to meet customer needs. Having the right team in place, with the right mixture of skills is the best starting place. From there, building a culture of learning and development will help not only drive digital maturity but will demonstrate the investment in the future of all who work there.