People and processesChange ManagementBuilding your digital transformation dream team

Building your digital transformation dream team

Nick Pike, VP UK and Ireland for OutSystems, takes a look at the teams that need to be built in order for digital transformation to be as smooth and as effective as possible

Nick Pike, VP UK and Ireland for OutSystems, takes a look at the teams that need to be built in order for digital transformation to be as smooth and as effective as possible

There’s a sense in organisations today that digital change is now inevitable. By the end of 2019, spending on digital transformation will reach £1.2 trillion worldwide—up 42% from 2017, according to a report from IDC late last year.

But for many organisations, it is not just the usual challenges such as resistance to change and legacy models that make the digital transformation journey difficult. Securing investment is a major factor. Also, the fear that digital transformation will burn up time and money can prevent organisations from committing to the process. However, it doesn’t have to be a costly exercise: teams can be set up to accelerate digital transformation without making significant investments in resources by following five key steps.

 

Step 1: Assemble an adoption team

Digital transformation affects the whole organisation. It’s not just an ‘IT thing’. It changes how business gets done. Therefore, a force is needed to push change across your organisation. This is how an adoption team can help. To build one, you need to fill the following key roles:

  • Executive sponsor: Digital transformation requires support from the very top. An executive sponsor (or sponsors) who can articulate a compelling vision and find the necessary funding is essential.
  • Adoption champion: Every movie has a resilient hero full of enthusiasm. In a digital transformation initiative, the adoption champion is that hero, driving the programme and building consensus, while valiantly handling a few issues on the way.
  • Adoption expert: All teams and projects benefit from the guidance of someone who has been on the journey before and is full of valuable advice and direction. The adoption expert can help overcome any unwelcome surprises.

For these roles, you will need to look inside your organisation and work out who is most likely to take on the task. The one exception is the adoption expert, who is usually a consultant or representative from an outside company whose expertise is accelerating digital transformation.

 

Step 2: Build a core digital transformation development team

Big projects are best undertaken in small stages, and digital transformation is no different. Start small, usually with a simple application or piece of software. Your adoption team can help decide what to try. Now you can build a core development team.

Who should be on the core team?

Every organisation has its own unique structure; however, when it comes to delivering software, there are some common functions involved, and they can be broken down to form your core as follows:

  • Internal user: Make sure you build software or an app that the organisation wants by having at least one internal representative working with your core team, sharing process information, and even testing, if needed.
  • Product owner: Someone acting as a proxy between the development team and the organisation user helps keep the project on track.
  • Tech lead: Tech leads address architectural and operational tasks. They design app-level architecture, control code quality, and map technical features to overall requirements.
  • Developers: If your project doesn’t require a mobile app with a front-end to delight consumers, you can complete your first app with a few all-purpose developers. If you’re using a low-code platform, you won’t need more than three.

Where to find your core team and what to look for…

You may find people for this team inside your organisation, depending on your size and makeup. For the internal user, you need someone who truly understands the processes you are transforming and is comfortable with technical communication. The product owner should have project management and excellent communication skills.

For the tech lead, target professionals with more than two years of team leadership and customer-facing experience. Your developers should have more than three years of software development experience and be comfortable using .NET, Java, or JavaScript.

 

Step 3: Expand your core team

After you build your first successful app, you’ll quickly want to expand to bigger and more exciting projects with amazing user experiences. So, it’s time to increase the size of your team.

Who should be on the expanded team?

To ensure a user experience that is intuitive, comfortable, and brilliant, add these roles:

  • Key users: Mobile apps require a customer focus. Key users provide that perspective throughout the design and development process.
  • Tester: First impressions determine an app’s success. You need a dedicated and knowledgeable tester on your team for performance and cross-device testing.
  • Front-end developer: If you want to build an app that users will adopt, you’ll need a dedicated front-end developer who gets into the minds of users, cares about their experiences, and pays attention to every detail.
  • UX/UI designer: Understanding the customer journey and developing an optimised experience requires the specialised skills of a UX/UI designer.

Where to find your expanded team and what to look for…

Great key users are interested in making your app better by describing what they look for in a digital experience; they are willing to test things out. Testers need to be detail-oriented, sceptical, with at least three years of software QA, test planning, and test writing experience.

Look for a seasoned front-end and UI development professional with skills in HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and responsive web design who is well-versed in the technology and tools used for front-ends. Your UX/UI designer should have a UI and UX background.

By the way, to close the loop, you’ll need your customer service team fired up to deliver excellent service as part of the rollout of a new customer solution. Get ready to cheer; you’re on the fast path to success with an app that users can’t wait to try. But there’s no stopping now.

 

Step 4: Turn your team into a centre of excellence

Success leads to many more apps. This is a critical point in the digital transformation journey. Demand can quickly spiral out of control until you are right back where you have started: staring down an overworked IT team with a heavy backlog load and an adoption team that’s lost interest. So how do you combat this?

A centre of excellence provides just the right level of governance and control, so you can safely scale your digital transformation projects across multiple teams, all set up just like your first ones. More teams involved in digital transformation means it’s vital to make sure you have got best practices for architecture and UI/UX in place for everyone.

Who should be on your centre of excellence team?

You’ll also benefit from adding a couple more roles as you build out your Centre of Excellence:

  • Programme manager: Working closely with the internal team users, adoption team, and product owners, the programme manager leads in prioritising and sequencing new apps and features in your projects.
  • Architect: In a Centre of Excellence, the architect develops standards for architecture, communicates them to project teams, and makes sure they are used. This provides the consistency that prevents technical debt and keeps things humming along.

Where to find your centre of excellence team and what to look for…

Look for a programme manager who has experience running projects, along with technical depth and excellent communication skills. A continuous improvement mindset is critical.

To find your architect, target people who know your organisation and industry and have comprehensive experience with projects that combine hardware, software, application, customer service, and systems engineering. They should demonstrate knowledge of IT governance and operations and excellent interpersonal leadership skills. Don’t settle for anyone with less than exemplary communication skills.

With this leadership, you can set up multiple core and expanded teams whenever and wherever they’re needed. Your digital transformation projects can scale with sustainability.

 

Step 5: Get the Playbook

Despite how much easier digital transformation can be when you structure your teams and projects in the right way, it’s a lot of work. Fortunately, there’s a guide for that. The Digital Transformation Foundation Playbook is a super reference for anyone who is overwhelmed by massive backlogs, scarce resources, legacy systems, and uncertainty and needs to kick-start their digital journey.

Hopefully, the outlined steps will provide organisations with a great insight into making the digital transformation journey a success. As organisations continue to adopt a digital approach, these successes can spawn further successful projects. This in turn will help deliver a consistent and positive brand experience through your entire customer journey, as well as increase sales, retention and growth of customer base.

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