Managing Expectations Should Be Part Of Your Digital Strategy

Digital Transformation Success Depends on the Team Supporting It

Having the right team and skill set is more important than the technology when it comes to digital strategy and transformation. Experienced project managers and leaders will set and manage expectations, plan for the unknowns, and help your company adopt new solutions to remain competitive.

The potential benefits of digital transformation are hard to ignore in an ever-increasing and complex landscape. The last year has resulted in firms trying to figure out how to stay competitive in a world dominated by an increase in the use of mobile and app-driven customer experiences, remote work, contactless transactions, and an even faster shift from brick and mortar to eCommerce. Before 2020, many firms probably considered themselves to be leaders in digital strategy and technology struggled to keep up and adapt. Many realized their expectations of a digital transformation were vastly different from reality.

Adopting new technology, processes, and digital solutions is a complex process that requires buy-in not only from those at the top but from all levels in an organization. Even the largest of firms with endless resources can spend years adopting and adapting to new solutions when you consider the amount of planning, road mapping, implementing, strategizing, and training required for execution.

With that said, it is imperative for those leading digital transformation or managing a digital strategy to set proper expectations for everyone involved. Understand that there will be unknowns and unforeseeable outcomes that will have to be addressed. Many times we see firms put these projects in the hands of people who are great delegators but lack actual project management skills. This requires more than someone good at sending emails and following up. Managing these long-term projects is a daunting task. Having experienced project managers who are accustomed to working with diverse groups of business units to keep everyone on task is often overlooked.

Firms with strong project management do a great job managing the expectations and conflicts between different business units. This starts with executives and leadership getting input from a wide range of people in the organization, including those who will be responsible for the actual execution and dirty work required to implement and execute. The first step is to make sure you are setting the right expectations, and are not falling for and regurgitating a sales pitch from whoever is marketing and selling a potential solution. Before you go to your chief officers to promote a new fancy tool or software, it is imperative to have your team do a deep dive and evaluation.

There have been times in my career where I have witnessed an executive make a decision without involving the guys who do the work, and it turns out to be a disaster because of his or her limited knowledge around how things work and what level of effort is required to implement.

For example, leadership may be aware that email suppression is happening, but they have no idea of the 2 dozen steps needed to extract data from their CRM with an API, merge it with transactional data, build the suppression logic, gather necessary digital assets, and loading data into an email client, then the following QA and testing processes to ensure the consumers are receiving the proper content.

If a firm is considering an upgrade or change to any of those pieces of the process, having a clear understanding of the dependencies to keep day-to-day operations running is key to overall success. No one wants to have to deal with downtime due to incompatibility issues that could have been solved if someone on the team had the ability to investigate it beforehand.

Digital transformation is a continuous and ongoing process of management, planning, strategizing, implementing, and optimization. While technology is an important part of the process, there is much more to it than selecting and configuring a new tool. Leadership, critical thinkers, and problem-solvers are vastly more important than the tools themselves. A simple paintbrush in the hands of a skilled artist will result in a better outcome than the most expensive tools given to an amateur.