Guest blog by Wattle, who are an independent creative software company that partners strategically with organisations to enable successful digital transformation by leveraging website CMS, CRM and bespoke technologies. Thank-you to Wattle for your Platinum Sponsorship of this year’s memcom conference, where over 50 high-profile speakers and the most cutting-edge suppliers of the moment, will be sharing their insight and expertise.
Technology and change go hand and hand in modern-day membership organisations. Digital transformation remains a major priority, with members increasingly demanding greater digitalisation, with calls for personalisation, automation and real-time access to information. This process is forcing organisations to change their business models and adapt to a new market reality fast.
For the 40% of organisations who still haven’t initiated any scalable transformation initiatives, time is of the essence. A recent Forbes report highlighted that 55% of businesses believe they have less than a year before they start to suffer financially and lose market share, as a result of failing to respond.
So how do you not only deliver the change, but deliver the right change, at speed?
1. Develop a company-wide business case for change.
Building a business case for digital transformation requires adaptation and buy-in at every level of the organisation. Where the primary aim may be to highlight financial and operational impacts of digital transformation, the development of a business case will also provide a framework that can be shared across the organisation.
Key considerations for delivering a business case
- Set clear measurable goals with expected ROI.
- Consider strengths and weaknesses of current solutions.
- Identify threats and opportunities in the broader market environment.
- Create an internal resource plan, making sure you have adequate resource allocated to each project phase.
- Develop a detailed project road map.
- Explore technical approaches.
- Set timescales and budgets.
- Ensure core staff have the time / capacity to work on a project.
2. Defining project scope
Knowing the scope of your project and the parameters required for go live are vital to delivering change at speed. Where the idea of launching a system that includes every desired feature from day one may be an aspiration, in reality, the higher development costs and longer timelines will be prohibitive.
Defining project scope is not about knowing every intricate detail of your system, the technology and how it needs to work, but knowing which problems you need to solve, the likely business impact and the priority of features within your organisation.
Key considerations for project scoping
- What are the features essential for operation?
- Who will manage your project internally?
- What current systems are in use and can they be consolidated?
- Where can you automate key business processes?
- Are there recurring issues with inaccurate data and data silos?
- Is there inaccurate or inconsistent data?
- What are the most important user journeys?
- What is the project budget?
- What are the project timelines?
Building flexibility and contingency into a project scope will be essential considering the rate of technical change. There is no technical approach that 100% mitigates risks, therefore understanding that budgets and timescales may evolve is essential both in developing your business case and defining your project scope.
3. Learn from the past
In haste to deliver change more quickly, organisations often make the mistake of neglecting the people that matter most; their members. No matter how ineffective your legacy systems have become, there will still be a host of data hugely valuable for future development, packed with behavioural insight.
Invest time in developing a deep understanding of users, their emotions and needs, then use this to develop an actionable problem statement.
How should you use data?
- Use Google Analytics data to identify web trends and most popular content.
- Look for trends in legacy CRM and systems.
- Identify data gaps/missing data that would enhance future solutions.
- Conduct stakeholder workshops to build on your findings.
Data within your legacy systems will give you a real insight into your customers experiences, whilst also helping you to understand pain points.
4. Focus on the Future
Perhaps the greatest industry misconception is that digital transformation refers to a single project or solution. Instead it refers to a mindset for continuous technical change, and ability to react to the fast-changing environment with latest technical innovations.
Key to developing a solution that can take your organisation far into the future are:
1.Choosing the right development partner
With a requirement for continuous transformation and a mindset for long-term development, selecting the right development partner really is essential for future success. In the membership sector alone, there are more than 45 suppliers, offering everything from out of the box (SAAS), through to fully bespoke proprietary systems and everything in between, so making the right choice is often a challenge.
Where it is easy to get caught up on costs, timelines or even visual elements presented in a pitch. The choice of suppliers invited to tender should be based on the best alignment to organisational strategy.
Things to consider:
- What is the organisations technology focus? – Does this match your favoured technology?
- Is the solution scalable? – What happens after the first phase of development is complete? Can the solution be developed in the future?
- Team and process – Is there a cultural fit? Do the team follow strategies that match the agenda of internal teams?
- In house skills vs outsourced – Does the team have all the skills required in house or will the achievement of project objectives require outsourcing or partner organisations?
- Support and feature enhancement – Is there consideration for the future and how your solution will evolve?
For true consolidation, there are significant efficiency benefits associated with working with one organisation who can offer a truly consolidated end to end solution, from one internal team.
2. Selecting the right technology and approach
When it comes to building sophisticated technical solutions in a short time frame, fully bespoke is rarely an option due to time and cost restraints. Instead, a more feasible option is a blend of bespoke and off-the-shelf solution, offering capabilities for customisation and configuration to fit your organisational needs.
3. Lean digital and Iterative development
Perhaps the most important change in mindset will come from the need to shift thinking to a more iterative agile approach. Instead of considering every desirable feature, significant time savings will be made by focusing on launching a minimum viable product (MVP) with a plan for continuous evolution. Where a pure agile approach may not be something your organisation is ready for, preparing for a more iterative project with multiple phases will help you to achieve your objectives more quickly.
Big Bang Vs MVP (Scribd 2020)
Delivering large scale business change should never be focused on one project or a refined timeline, but instead focused on continuous advancement or evolution. Behaviour will continue to advance rapidly, and your systems will need to respond accordingly.
Perhaps the biggest consideration is that, where delivering change at speed is vital, continuing to change at speed and acknowledging that your project will never end is perhaps even more important.