Is business transformation through technology still an effective change method?
Having worked for years conducting small, medium and large business and IT transformations (incl. continuous improvement initiatives), I have seen on many occasions that organisations still aim to drive performance, e.g. moving to "no-touch" business processes, better people performance, enhanced cultural and organisational models with focus on innovation and customer excellence, through implementing the next leading-edge, on-premise, cloud or ERP technology. As we live in a world where new technologies that solve business challenges are presented to us on a daily basis through the numerous technology news sites, you start to wonder if technology should really drive the business performance agenda in organisations?
I have seen, on many occasions, how technology has assisted in improving business performance. However, focussing on a technology project to solely delivering the required "transformational" change and increase business performance, has never actually worked. Nowadays, it has become more and more important that the technology partner's "views", innovation roadmap and culture, aligns with the organisational goals and people/performance culture to support the business transformation goals. How do we create this alignment?
It's becoming more crucial that before selecting "a technology", to first clearlydefine what the expected business output is of the required change. What do we aim to achieve with the "transformation", e.g. better profit margins? higher sales volume? more product of business innovations? better customer service? higher performance of our staff? reduce operational costs? meeting governance and risk targets? etc.
To ensure you understand if the "transformation" has an impact, it's imperative to define Key Performance Indicators (KPI's) to measure the current, the change and the "ultimate" state. Only by measuring and implementing periodic reporting, you're able to see if the initiative actually delivers the intended goals. There is no need to create 50+ KPI's. Select a approx 5 - 10 key KPI's that you're able to measure and report on, before, during and after the "transformation".
Create a clear roadmap with the following key stages; a) What report(s) do we need after the transformation (these should be linked to the KPI's). b) What processes and data should be available to complete these reports. c) What changes to the organisational model should be put in place with the right roles, behaviours, etc. Is important that the organisation model is able to support the new processes and reporting mechanisms. d) What technology is able to support a, b, c most effectively (preferably "out-of-the-box" with minimal configuration). e) Does the technology easily "integrate" with the existing application landscape and technology platform to reduce potential current and future technology clashes. f) Does the technology's partner company culture and innovation roadmap aligns with the organisational's culture and technology roadmap (to ensure continuous improvements).
I have seen that this approach has been very effective to ensure business expectations are "met". By seeing technology as a key enabler instead of a key driver in a "transformation", there is a more likely chance that improvements will be adopted across the full organisation, instead of only by the department that implanted the changes With the large number of different technologies, organisations have more and more choices to select the "right" technology to support the business transformation agenda and ultimately support the short-term and long-term organisational goals.
Although this all sounds very logical, it's surprising how many organisations are still pursuing solely the technology route to drive change and improved business performance...