Speakers: Sonia Cuff and Paul Woods
Now for something a little less technical, but equally as important.
The topic of this session interested me, not only because it was a bit more my speed, but also because it sounded like a situation most IT Professionals would have or will have experience with at one time or another.
This session was a great way to start the thought processes around what (in addition to delivering outstanding software) we need to do within digital transformation projects, to meet business success.
The meaning of success could be different depending on your involvement in a project. To the person holding the purse strings, success might mean the project coming in on or under budget. To a marketing person, success might mean a completed campaign with an increase in customers. However within software development and delivery, we need to start thinking about success as being measured by the user embracing the software and using it to simplify existing tasks.
A few of the familiar statements were mentioned as those that might come from a CEO at the end of a project:
‘Our people just weren’t comfortable with it’
‘When do you expect the whole organisation to be using this?’
‘It just didn’t fit in with how we work around here.’
I know I’ve certainly heard statements similar to this in the past, not just from a CEO, but from different stakeholders within a project.
These types of observations can begin to be overcome by focusing on the following:
Delivery of the project is measured in time and budget, but the business won’t measure the success of the project on these factors.
What we need to do is to think about; how do we change behaviours so people embrace the different style of work that a change in software will bring? How do we get customers to embrace our technology to meet the business success?
The Listicle (Hybrid of List and Article, like a Buzzfeed post, a phrase coined by the presenters):
There where quite a few excellent suggestions made for areas to focus on with all digital transformation projects. These were the ones that stuck with me:
Executive sponsorship – Make sure it is visible and active.
Any transformation needs to be lead. This might be via a formal arrangement – an actual executive sponsor who is responsible for the “Project Success”. In addition, there might be informal stakeholders on board who have a vested interest in the business results, that can be incredibly valuable in promoting success.
Digital Champions have the power to change the way people work. They have the power to make the change stick. These don’t always have to be the obvious people from an organisational structure, there might be people who are natural teachers, who will embrace the changes and encourage others to do so.
Consult with stakeholders
We shouldn’t underestimate the power of having conversations with all the people who will be affected by the change. It is important to believe that what your project is going to deliver is the same as what your stakeholders believe is going to be delivered.
Vision and Strategy
We should be able to paint a picture of what the future will look like, so the stakeholders can prepare themselves for the future, and understand where the incremental changes are heading.
The Business Model
Quite simply, if people understand the business model (how the organisation makes its money), they will have a better understanding of where transformation can help the business achieve its goals and objectives. Success criteria that can be aligned to the business model will help paint the picture.
Focus on behaviours, interactions, processes, not just the change in software.
Promote Success Stories
People are quite reluctant to promote their success stories, but strangely quite quick to talk about the challenges they have encountered. The business outcomes will be easier to sell with good news stories. Some great suggestions for sharing good news stories are user groups, mini internal trade shows, expos and newsletters.
Regular Feedback Loops
Regular feedback is important to customers so they know what is being delivered and when. It allows for feedback to be given and received all the way along the journey. One great point to remember is that feedback needs to be followed up with action.
Finally, the last point to make is that you have to Keep Going. Sometimes changes take multiple tries. Discussion, feedback, push through and keep going.