You don’t light a match just to watch it burn. Sustaining a fire is as important as starting it — and digital transformation is no different. An effective digital transformation strategy will cover not only why the transformation is needed but also how you plan to manage it and ensure its success in the long term.

But before we can go ahead with the steps, let’s quickly define the term.

What is a Digital Transformation Strategy?

For your business, a digital transformation strategy is a plan of action that aims to create digitally run, sustainable operations to produce better business returns and add a competitive edge in the market. It’s in a way a roadmap to transform your traditional business into an upgraded technology and software-driven business.

The strategy impacts every department in your business and will surely change the way you work. In many cases, it will account for automating mundane and repetitive tasks.
Now that you might understand what a strategy aims to achieve, let’s dive into the most efficient and result-driving process.

6 steps to build your digital transformation strategy

Here are a few key steps that will help you build your next digital transformation strategy.

1. Do your research before you start

Digital transformation is a long process. Before you embark on this complex journey of executing your digital transformation roadmap, make sure you know what you hope to achieve and how you intend to achieve it.
When doing your homework, avoid doing a deep dive into your immediate competitors. Although it’s tempting to see what your competitors are up to, comparing your business to theirs can give you tunnel vision and cause you to try to replicate their success. Instead, start by narrowing in on what your business needs.

Before you build out your framework, determine the why, what, and how for your business:

  • Why do you need this transformation?
  • What do you need to transform successfully?
  • How can you make this transformation happen smoothly?

Let’s say you discover that the majority of your sales reps are using offline methods instead of CRM to book sales deals. Because CRM adoption rates are low, deals take too long to book. In this case, the “why” behind your digital transformation would be that you need to increase user adoption rates, and the “how” would be a detailed implementation plan.

Of course, this is a very high-level example. For any major modification to an organization, it’s important to set long-term and short-term goals. Establishing KPIs will allow you to accurately judge the effectiveness of your digital transformation strategy. For example, a KPI for success might be a 50-80% increase in CRM adoption rates over the next year.

2. Create a change management plan

Digital Transformation requires a lot of change, so it’s crucial to manage that transition effectively. Mapping out the far-reaching effects of a digital transformation helps you to anticipate needs and get ahead of potential issues.

Juggling multiple aspects of the transition at once is tricky, but change management plan templates can help you get an overview of the process. Templates help you justify the transformation, determine a change management model, design your change communication style, and more all in one document.
digital transformation strategy - change plan template
Our free downloadable templates will guide you through the next steps in establishing your digital transformation strategy.

3. Establish leadership buy-in for your digital transformation strategy

Without key leaders stoking the fire, the embers of your digital transformation strategy will quickly fizzle out. Unsurprisingly, 11 of McKinsey’s twenty-one keys to success [in digital transformation] directly related to senior management/leadership support.

Senior managers need to understand the why, what, and how of the transformation. When they are confident in the business strategy for transformation, they are better prepared to communicate with their team and support the process.

Because a digital transformation impacts multiple areas of your business, it’s important to gain support from a variety of managers, department heads, and supervisors. Employees want to receive guidance from change leaders they trust. Be sure every affected department has a leader driving the transformation projects.

Once you designate change leaders, be sure to clearly define their role in the digital transformation strategy. What tasks or trainings are they responsible for? Which team members will turn to them with questions related to the transition? Help your leaders plan ahead for potential obstacles and encourage them to manage the change creatively.

4. Address multiple aspects of the transformation at once

Enterprises that implement organization-wide transformation initiatives “typically outperform their single-function counterparts by between 30 and 40%.” Don’t get stuck in a methodical approach that addresses one area of your business at a time. Cross departments and dive into how the transformation will affect internal operations.

Take implementing Workday as your human capital management (HCM) software, for example. A methodical approach would start with altering HR processes, then moving on to work on how this will affect current employees, and then addressing the changes to the hiring process. As we said, this approach focuses on only changing one aspect at a time.
A transformative approach allows you to address every aspect simultaneously and facilitate communication and cooperation across the organization. This approach also encourages collaboration and speeds up the transition process.

5. Use tools to support the digital transformation strategy

While this may seem obvious, many companies focus too narrowly on the tools involved in the transformation itself. Leaning on additional digital resources allows you to provide support and information throughout the transition.
Consider leveraging a variety of tools as part of creating a digital transformation strategy:

  • Knowledge wikis provide information about the transformation process and timeline. They also proactively answer questions and maintain transparency.
  • Digital Adoption Platforms (DAPs) speed up user adoption of new software by providing contextual, on-demand guidance, so employees can learn new software in the flow of work.
  • Elearning tools allow you to create a variety of training materials that keep employees engaged and increase comprehension.

digital transformation strategy- whatfix features
In the case of Workday, the software itself is a digital tool, but you can support the transition with Whatfix in-app guidance, an internal wiki with instructional guides and tips, training videos, and more.

6. Maintain momentum

A roaring fire still needs to be regularly fed. You may have turned a spark of enthusiasm into a roaring flame, but walking away from your digital transformation too soon can extinguish the fire you worked so hard to build.

Throughout the process, continue to monitor goals and KPIs. Question every setback, so you can readjust your approach. Highlight wins and apply the knowledge you’ve gained to other aspects of your plan.

Never stop checking in with your change leaders. These are the people who are experiencing the transformation firsthand and know intimately how it affects their teams. Their feedback on the entire transformation and the management is invaluable. So, make sure to continuously ask for their inputs and thoughts. 

Another important step is having frequent checkpoints to stop and analyze the impact of the rollout and fill any gaps or identify what more needs to be done to ensure a successful transformation.

Until your transformation is ingrained into daily operations and company culture, you cannot let up. Keep fueling the fire and searching for new ways to push the transformation forward.

Make Whatfix, a Part of Your Digital Transformation Strategy

Our digital adoption platform is designed to help transitions run smoothly. With our interactive training and on-demand guidance, your team will have the support they need to transform the way they work.

Whatfix helps push digital transformation efforts forward by enabling employees to learn in the flow of work. Contact our transformation experts to set up a demo if you need consulting on ensuring a successful transformation.

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