NetworkWorld

The first step in a digital transformation strategy

By Shaun Neal

May 22, 2017

Virtually all digital transformation strategies focus on the network edge, as the goal is to enable agility and autonomy where technology and business meet. This edge is composed of internal and external users and their devices on the wireless network, as well as those who may interface over the Internet via VPN or even through mobile apps or websites that facilitate users. 

The focus on the edge has changed significantly as business explore customer and employee engagement, the Internet of Things, and the integration of layers of business intelligence and analytics over the top. Multidisciplinary teams are now needed to ensure there is alignment between the business and IT, and full participation is required to get the right requirements up front. 

Stakeholder selection

The importance of this with respect to a digital strategy cannot be overstated. Stakeholders from traditional silos that are close to the business must be engaged as part of the team despite a possible lack of technical knowledge. Include stakeholders who are customer-facing, as well as those who are focused on operations, because the group should be a representative subset of the company.

Typical groups with representation are IT, marketing, operations and facilities – while many of the others may be more vertical specific, such as patient experience, patient throughput, student success, players club, etc. Some organizations may face pushback in engaging certain silos of the business, as perhaps they don’t understand their input on technology. When that occurs, even after best efforts have been made, move forward and share the recap with the problematic silo. It is possible that this broader view may bridge the gap and entice them to engage. 

Set the stage and solicit input

The project champion should set the stage for the requirements-gathering process and educate the team at large about the goals of the project and organization and allow for feedback and input on the project. It is important to keep this phase positive and for it to generate additional ideas. This is the opportunity for business units to understand the value proposition of the proposed project and ensure its relevance to their area of focus. 

Project leads should listen and take extensive notes during these sessions, but they must also ensure the discussion stays on track. This is a chance for both sides to explore what the other is looking for and where there are opportunities to make a difference. It is on the project champions to make sure the stakeholder participation is valuable and to reassure stakeholders that while they may think they have little to no role in technology, their information is vital to project success. For project leads finding themselves having to drive the conversation, avoid yes or no lines of questioning and ask probative or more open-ended questions.

Establish success criteria

It is imperative the project have clear success criteria that are outcome based. In the digital economy, organizations aren’t simply implementing a solution, they are implementing a platform that enables the business to do more than it has been able to do before. The team must be able to quantify this increase in capability by defining measurable outcomes that will become the yardstick for determining project success. The project team should establish these criteria after gathering all the requirements to determine areas for quick wins and establish longer roadmap success goals if necessary.

Stakeholder recap

The project team should always provide a recap of the requirements gathered to the stakeholders to ensure the message was clearly understood, internalized and can be shared back without losing meaning. This is an opportunity for teams involved in a portion of the project to learn about what is important to other areas of the business. 

This recap should include the now-defined success criteria so that stakeholder teams can understand how their ideas are being put to use and can provide value to their area of expertise. Allow for some time for the business to react to this output because often, after stakeholders have had time to mull it over, they may have new ideas after they see it again, and they may want to adjust their message.

 

This article was written by Shaun Neal from NetworkWorld and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.