Digital Transformation Through Journey Management

Digital transformation is as much about organizational change as it is about technology. At its core, the purpose is to create a different experience.  This requires integration of three key dimensions: stakeholders to embrace change and contribute to it; work processes that must transition to fit new strategic goals; and implementing the right tools and technologies to enable new ways of working. Once your digital solution has been architected, the process of orchestrating and facilitating transformation of all the people, process, and technology elements of the organization from where they currently are to where they need to be, is called journey management.

A McKinsey survey of more than three thousand global executives found that only one in three  transformations succeeds. The likely culprit? Leaders placing too much emphasis on technology and not enough on the people and the processes needed to make the transformation successful.

The journey management process follows four steps, each essential to ensuring your digital transformation achieves your desired goals.

  1. Initiation. A short but important phase lasting a week or two that establishes the foundation for the transformation journey, which includes team building, tool and methodologies selection, and identifying the physical and virtual environments and platforms to manage the stages of transformation.
  2. Planning. The second phase can last from a few weeks to a few months and includes an assessment of people movements, work changes, and technology impacts for the proposed digital transformation, as well as creating launch plans for implementing the design decisions.
  3. Realization. This is the phase of the journey where the digital transformation goes from strategic idea to reality through the implementation of the transformation. While leaders and others heading up journey management set the tone, employees should also understand how important their roles are to the transformation’s success.  Although the assessment and planning stages are critically important for ensuring that your digital transformation remains aligned with your organization’s strategy and is set up for success, do not assume you’re home free when you reach the implementation stage. Your ability to manage the journey and maintain momentum over the long haul will be integral to your digital transformation’s success.
  4. Sustainment. Successful implementation of the digital transformation goals is not the end of the journey – this hard-earned process must be sustained.  Once the digital transformation has taken place, results and reviews will need to be monitored and analyzed to determine any adjustments that may be needed to ensure optimal productive changes in every process, employee, and business model.

Avoiding Digital Transformation Speed Bumps

The key to leading an ultimately successful journey management isn’t just implementing a transition plan, it’s also avoiding potential pitfalls that can hinder or even derail a transformation.  Leaders should anticipate the following pain points during their organization transformation:

Appropriate set-up and resourcing at every phase. Organizations sometimes rally around a particular phase of the journey, but they are unable to maintain the same level of focus, commitment, and resources across other phases. Without a sustained effort that gives equal energy and enthusiasm to all phases, the transformation can stall, putting the desired goals in jeopardy.

Management of handoffs between the phases or steps in the journey. Even when an organization is motivated and set up to move through the journey, it doesn’t always effectively address the transitions from one phase of work to another. Stakeholders need to do everything possible to facilitate times of transition during the transformation, especially when there is a changeover in personnel and team members.

Maintain a multi-dimensional focus. Sometimes during a digital transformation, it may be tempting to focus almost exclusively on one aspect. But all areas—project management, communications, change management, HR processes, systems implementation, organization design, and technology design, testing, and implementation—are equally important and need to be addressed concurrently throughout the transformation, even though it may feel a little like 3-D chess.

As with any major change endeavor, digital transformation must be orchestrated wisely to achieve optimal results. By following the suggested steps and strategies listed, you’ll be better able to manage the many moving parts of the journey management and improve the likelihood of achieving a successful transformation. 

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