Practical guide to executing a digital transformation plan on a SME

Practical guide to executing a digital transformation plan on a SME

Digital Transformation has become a top priority in the current business landscape due to the rapid pace of profound changes such as increased process automation, customer interaction through digital channels, and the competitive edge that using AI provides over rivals. However, while many companies are fully aware of these challenges, taking the first steps on this journey can be overwhelming.

In this brief article, we aim to provide a practical guide with key points and steps to help you start your journey towards digital transformation with full guarantees of success.

1. Evaluate Your Current Situation

Firstly, before embarking on the project, it is vital to know the current situation of the company. Only then can we identify areas for improvement, current obstacles in digital advancement, and most importantly, determine what 'digital' will mean for your company. Depending on your company's situation: sector, maturity level, value chain, growth expectations, etc., the most suitable digital solutions for thriving in the new digital economy will be determined.

The analysis should, of course, be 360º: –involving all key areas of the company: finance, operations, sales, marketing, etc.–, analyzing their current processes and how the application of new technologies and processes can add value. A series of audits will be necessary for this.

To assist you in analyzing your company's current Digital Transformation situation and understanding your current level, we have developed a free diagnostic tool. Access here.

2. Define the Objectives You Want to Achieve

Once we have identified our current situation and the challenges we face, the next step will be to set clear and realistic objectives we intend to achieve with our Digital Transformation project. Some examples (although they vary greatly depending on the sector and the company) might include:

  • Developing a digital culture within the company: training employees to understand and get value from digital tools, as well as to foster a culture based on meritocracy and innovation.
  • Redesigning customer service to make it a digital experience: for example, launching an app for customers to place online orders with a higher degree of personalization, while gathering new data to offer them better future experiences.
  • Transforming production processes using emerging technologies: the industry is undergoing a complete transformation, thanks to technologies like machine learning, IoT, and 3D printing, turning companies that cannot adapt into obsolete ones in a short time.
  • Building a digital infrastructure: most SMEs have systems working in silos (isolated units); if we can interconnect all systems, we can analyze all the operational processes of the company and measure indicators like customer satisfaction and productivity.
3. Develop a Detailed Work Plan

The digital transformation process cannot be an immediate implementation project. Although we might be excited to see how a particular technology can change our company, it is critical to do it gradually and in stages; we can start in areas where the benefit is more tangible and direct and gain momentum to undertake other larger projects, always taking into account the risk points that will be key to tackling the transformation: such as training, education, and redesigning new organizational processes.

4. Find Partners to Help You on Your Journey

You will find multiple benefits in having external consultants to carry out your digital transformation plan: the experience and specialized knowledge that external consultants bring will provide new capabilities in how to innovate through technology, as well as help analyze its potential impact, mitigating risks, and avoiding known industry errors, in short, there will be a long-term fruitful transfer of knowledge. They can also offer you an independent and objective view: as external collaborators to the company, consultants can offer you a new independent and alternative vision to that within the company, which is crucial to driving change. We need to look at our company with new eyes.

5. Determine Who Will Lead the Different Initiatives

It is essential to have a responsible person to lead, coordinate, and supervise each of the different initiatives within the project; in some cases, it may be the same person or different depending on the specific characteristics of the company. And most importantly: these people must always be internal staff of the company.

Although, as we mentioned in the previous point, the role of partners is fundamental, as specialized knowledge in digital transformation is necessary, the leaders must always be internal personnel to exercise effective leadership: creating synergies with employees, avoiding friction, and possible rejection of the changes to be made. Employees must understand why these changes are being made and how they will benefit. You must involve and prepare your entire organization for the big change.

6. Finally, Don't Hesitate and Start as Soon as Possible

Many organizations postpone starting a project like this because they think they are not in a favorable situation to address it at this moment. They think that later, there will be a better time to do it. In the end, it all comes down to a matter of priorities, but seeing the increasing acceleration in social, productive, and economic changes, we believe that the best time to start changing both in life and business is to do it as soon as possible.

Don't delay any longer in developing your Digital Transformation plan; your company must adapt and even anticipate the changes that will occur in the future, its survival and success in the new economic environment depend on it.

If you want to receive the best advice with independent consulting work being your reference partner in your digital transformation project, do not hesitate to contact us.