Written by Global Kinetic on April 22, 2020

Digital transformation : Pillars and Pitfalls

Author: Loren Rose, Global Kinetic COO

With the current global situation, now more than ever, companies are needing to digitally transform their businesses in order to survive and remain competitive against a changing and unpredictable landscape. With additional lockdowns looming around the globe, and the resultant fundamental shift in customer behaviour going forward, companies will need to become increasingly adaptable at increasing their digital offerings, as well as their speed to market, in order to secure business continuity.

Now is the time for rapid and large-scale digital transformation.

What is digital transformation?

Digital transformation is the journey a company takes to establish a digital competency and presence in order to be more effective and remain competitive. At its core, it is a fundamental redesign of how a company engages people, processes, and technology, to deliver value to their customers.

Why embark on digital transformation?

  • To become more efficient,
  •  To deliver value to customers more often,
  • To become adaptable to fast changing environment and shifting customer expectations,
  • To counter disruption from new entrants into the market,
  • To stay relevant.

What are the pillars and pitfalls?

People

Having people with the right skills, the appropriate mindset, and level of seniority and maturity is critically important for the success of a digital transformation.

Your team needs to be made up of people that are skilled in agile delivery and thinking. If these people do not exist within your current pool of talent, you will need to either recruit or embark on a retraining strategy. Retraining strategies are most effective when paired with the right mindset(culture), quick-learning problem-solvers that can embrace the change and uncertainty of new processes and technology. Even then, they will only succeed when your team is paired with seniors with the appropriate skills and experience that can mentor them and carry the responsibility of delivery in the short term.

In addition to your delivery team, the success of your digital transformation will strongly hinge on buy-in from people across your organisation, particularly your leadership team and HR.

Pitfalls

  •  Existing teams are resistant and/or unwilling to change, and seldom challenge old ways of thinking.
  •  Lack of skills and a resistance to bring in new, experienced talent.
  •  Mixed and/or conflicting messages from superiors
    • This becomes difficult for the team to understand their priorities and directives.
  •  People that are partially allocated to the transformation
    • More conflicting priorities as a result of split focus.
  •  Conflicting KPIs for teams i.e. success measured on old ways of thinking.
  •  Leadership not aligned, or not brought into the process early enough.

Process

A successful Agile software delivery process is born out of a solid understanding of Agile development frameworks and practices, how to apply them, and how to continuously improve and adapt that process to a specific environment. While the Agile methodology promotes incremental change, you cannot incrementally transition from waterfall to Agile.

To succeed, you need to fully embrace the Agile process from day one, and not just the parts you like, or that check the boxes that make your stakeholders happy.

Pitfalls

  • Using a hybrid model and only adopting bits and pieces of the various Agile methodologies.
  •  Enforcing the same governance on the team that slowed them down in the first place.
  •  Giving the team a hard deadline for delivery while also trying to focus on the transformation.
    • Putting a team under stress will likely cause them to take short cuts or revert to old understood patterns of behaviour.
  • Selecting the wrong project on which to trial the transformations.
    • should select small ring-fenced, non-critical-path MVP without multiple external dependencies on waterfall teams.
  • Old decision-making structures kept in place.

Technology

Technology serves as the catalyst for, the output of, and the tool used to deliver digital transformation. In order to take advantage of technological advancements the appropriate infrastructure and DevOps tools need to be put in place.

Pitfalls

  • Not investing in Automation activities or project infrastructure, i.e. not giving the team the tools they need to succeed.
  •  Adopting a technology because it is trendy rather than because it adds strategic value.

Culture

Digital transformation is at its essence a cultural change. If the appropriate culture is not instilled or accepted in the team, alongside an effective change management process, the digital transformation has a reduced chance of success. You will need to start by transforming your culture into one that embraces change and innovation. A strong, transformative culture, where teams are not afraid to fail, as they are able to easily and quickly respond and course-correct.

Culture is unique to each company, and even to each team. It is not something that can be lifted and shifted from another successful organisation, but rather it is best to first focus on instilling the correct behaviours within your teams, and allowing the culture to radiate out from there.

Pitfalls

  • Lack of buy-in from leadership as culture needs to align with the company vision and core values
  • Attempting to shoehorn another successful popular culture into your own organisation, rather than let it develop naturally with the correct behaviours.

Conclusion

Digital transformation is a challenging endeavour, which is why Global Kinetic is perfectly positioned to guide you through it using our proven digital transformation engagement model.

People :

  • Global Kinetic already have the right mix of people and experience as agile software delivery is our core business.
  • We have built a strong understanding on how to recruit the appropriate people for Agile software delivery and have a mature talent-screening process for potential candidates.
  • We use TeamFirst to constantly track team coherence and provide insights as to the effectiveness of our teams.

Process :

  • Global Kinetic has a proven digital delivery track record due to the maturation of our Agile development method which we constantly look to improve and refine.
  • Software Delivery is what we do on a daily basis, and have over 15 years’ experience providing high-quality, on-time solutions for our clients.

Technology :

  • Global Kinetic has always been focused on continuously improving the set of practices and tools that automate our software delivery processes. This enables us to build, test, and release software faster and more reliably.
  • We stay on top of technological trends and are able to advise our customers as to how they too can leverage off these advancements to deliver more value to their own customers.

Culture :

  • Having a well-established, high performance culture of our own, we will work alongside your team to instil the correct behaviours to serve as a foundation to developing your own unique high-performance culture.

Contact us at hello@globalkinetic.com  to start your digital transformation journey with us.

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