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Six key questions to ask yourself before committing to a digital transformation

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Digital transformation, the adoption of technology to move business processes and operations towards digitalisation, has changed considerably in recent years and is still constantly evolving as ERP software upgrades and adapts. An off-the-shelf, generic product isn’t always the best solution today, given the bespoke nature of most ERP platforms, but finding the right product to suit a business’ needs is challenging. Without a clear strategy from the outset, a CIO can very easily make the wrong decision regarding digital transformation, so it’s worth spending time, often taking on board some expert advice, to answer half a dozen key questions, before any commitments are made:

How do you want the new ERP implementation to transform your business?

It’s all very well knowing that “ERP” is the way forward, or the names of the major providers in the space; but having outdated tech or keeping up with competitors isn’t a good enough reason for implementing the first product that seems to suit. There needs to be an end goal to be able to choose the right software, whether that is revenue growth, operational efficiencies or something more specific.

What is the business case for this transformation?

Linked to the above, the business case is a crucial element of a successful transformation. It’s not enough to want to see improvements, there has to be a goal ROI, to both manage internal expectations and work towards, as well as targets in place for each function the ERP software will help transform. Spelling out the potential business benefits in relation to the costs are the metrics that senior management will want to know and ultimately measure the project against.

What organisational change and associated risk will be involved?

ERP implementation will often go hand in hand with strategic internal changes for a business, from streamlining processes and roles to potentially reorganising an entire business function. The greater degree of this change, the higher risk there is involved, which needs assessing and mitigating in advance.

What change management initiatives will you need in place?

The change brought about by digital transformation doesn’t have to be as extreme or visible as the restructuring of an entire function, but it is still likely to impact on everyone in an organisation, through the adoption of new technology and processes. Change needs to be managed effectively, with training programmes and communication to get company-wide buy-in and ultimate transformation success.

Do you know which tech is the right tech?

Find the software and tech that suits your business goals. While most ERP software is customisable, choosing the platform first, or being sold on being able to manually code or customise something through add-ons is a negative approach. The right software decision will align with your objectives and be more cost effective in the long term. Don’t forget it’s not just about your existing or legacy tech – consider the third parties’ tech that you may need to integrate with too.

Do you have a strategy in place to reach your goal?

It is vital to start out with a plan of implementation that is aligned with your business objectives; companies with solid strategies and plans in place are much more likely to succeed. Digital transformation won’t be held up by the technology, but by a poorly designed strategy of adoption, so it’s important to have the right project team in place who are all moving in the same direction.