We recently published a digital transformation cheat sheet for boardrooms. In that article, we emphasised the importance of teams and organisational culture. But how do you go about building your digital transformation dream team? Read on to see why starting from the top is important – and why you need business and management expertise alongside top technical talent.
Start with leadership, and transformation champions
Digital transformation fundamentally changes how your organisation functions. It is not an “IT” upgrade – it is an organisational upgrade. You can’t achieve transformation success without deep involvement from leadership at the C-level, and the boardroom. And not just your CIO or CTO – every C-level function must be on board.
Transformation success is not just about execution – it is also about sponsorship. Success requires drive and determination which is why your leadership team needs a digital champion. This champion must be sourced from top management. Only senior leadership has the authority to drive programmes and to inspire confidence in the changes that digital transformation will bring.
Your C-level sponsor will also align the organisation in more practical ways. For example, making sure that the funding for the transformation is in place. Likewise, this senior team member can align the broader organisational strategy with the potential of digital transformation.
Place business experts and transformation management
Thought leadership and motivation sourced from the top is key, but digital transformation is also about practical aspects. That said, it is not just about technology factors – it is about process and organisational (or business) success.
This success depends on a deep understanding of your business and its operating environment. That’s why your team must include business experts – employees with key insight into the processes in your company. Business transformation team members can guide more technical staff to ensure that the implementation of digital transformation delivers business success.
Also consider placing a financial analyst as a key team member. Embarking on a technology transition will have fundamental implications for your company’s bottom line. Your team must keep close control over project costs, but on the flipside also realise the cost benefits of a transformation project.
A finance team member can deliver ongoing evidence to support the investment required by a transformation programme. After all, digital transformation is known to bring lower operational costs, while transformation can also drive higher revenue.
Your team also needs strong transformation management. Yes, a digital transformation champion will motivate your colleagues to support transformation – but change must be coordinated on the ground too. So, make sure to appoint a team member that can keep a close eye on the practical aspects of digital transformation.
Build your technical team
Digital transformation success lies in vision, the motivation to support change, and a business-centric approach to change management. It is also true that the devil is in the details. That’s why your digital transformation team must include technical team members who are at the top of their game.
In practice, your technical team may make up the bulk of the team members in terms of headcount. Every digital transformation programme will require a unique set of technical team members, depending on the industry in which you operate. However, some boxes you should tick include:
- Architecture lead. Complex projects require concerted efforts based on an architecture that makes conceptual sense across the organisation. It involves vision, planning, and standards. Your technical architecture lead will envision these concepts and specify a consistent technical plan that keeps your project on track.
- UX leads. Digital transformation will never succeed if the user experience (or UX) is poor – your colleagues will simply find ways to sidestep new technology, defaulting back to their old ways of doing their job. Whichever field of business you’re in, ensure that you have qualified UX experts to ensure usability and buy-in.
- Testers. Nothing will derail your digital transformation project as quickly as a catastrophic, embarrassing software bug. Software bugs are common and are often found too late. That’s why testing is a critical part of your digital team.
Again, depending on what field of business you operate in, your transformation project might require specific expertise – IoT engineers, front-end developers, enterprise architects. Don’t leave out any essential experts.
Other points to consider
The core of your transformation team will be technical staff but as we suggested, your team must have a business perspective – alongside strong leadership influence.
There is a risk that a digital transformation team will start off with high hopes and incredible fanfare from leadership – but that executive teams will eventually lose interest. Your team must be structured to keep leadership involved and engaged throughout the programme.
Finally, we think one of the best ways to do so is to design your team in a fashion that delivers quick wins – even if it comes at a slight cost to overall efficiency. Transformation is a marathon. Setting up visible, worthy and achievable milestones will keep the entire team, and indeed the programme engaged in the long run.