A SmartIT Blog Series: Business and Digital Transformation – A Staffing and Consulting Company’s Transformation Journey

June 20, 2017 Posted by Steve Farley

Part 2:  Planning the Trip

It is time for the next installment of SmartIT’s Business and Digital Transformation series.  In the last blog, Part I:  Preparing for the Transformation Journey, I introduced you to SmartIT’s current business and digital transformation initiative and my goals for writing this series. This chapter will attempt to guide you through the excitement of strategic planning, the apprehension of assessment, and the conviction of project planning.

Strategic Vision – Determine Your Destination

When you are planning a trip, you ask yourself questions about what you want to do, where the best location is to perform the activities you desire, when the best time of year is to visit those destinations, and a variety of other questions centered around the activities and destination you choose.

I associate this line of thinking to an overall strategic vision.  Vision defines the end state. What desired destination do you envision?  What products or services do you want to perform?  This drives the first step of business and digital transformation, assessments.

Assessments – What am I getting into by choosing this destination?

Why is assessing change throughout an organization important?  The assessment is framed around the idea of the destination. If you don’t understand what the end results should be, how will you know where to begin? Shortly after starting, I found that the early objectives of my role could not be completed satisfactorily due to challenges prevalent to the organization.  I asked my manager for approval to complete an assessment of the organization with the end goal of developing a transformation roadmap from the vision, or destination, that the organization had in mind.

Critical to any assessment is confidentiality.  TRUST is one of SmartIT’s values and is the cornerstone of gathering accurate information, empowering employees, and developing change champions.  Confidentiality is also a way to discover resistors and destructive heroes.  Just as you trust a travel agent to act in your best interest, leadership is trusted to solicit the appropriate amount of information to create a detailed itinerary for the transformation.

Once the assessment phase is completed, an itinerary, or project plan, can be created.  The itinerary provides details around transportation and activities as well as provides a framework for understanding the travel requirements including, entry requirements, vaccinations, climate, and cultural considerations just to name a few.  The next step in planning for a business transformation is the physical project plan. This provides the overall details about each phase, timeframes for completing activities, and a budget.

Project Planning – How do I get there?

The emotional high of getting senior leadership to agree to support a transformation project is immediately followed by the sudden realization that a promise of results has been made. To achieve results (One of SmartIT’s core values), it requires the thorough planning of the transformation project and this usually encompasses digital transformation planning as well.

Components of digital transformation Include, social, mobile, analytics and cloud, or SMAC.  SmartIT is building a cloud infrastructure, with an initial focus on analytics and mobile capabilities.  A social strategy is in the works and will be part of capability expansion and continuous improvement efforts.

Getting back on track, a disciplined approach to project planning is critical to creating a realistic schedule, resource plan and initial risk management plan.  Itineraries follow the same principles.  An itinerary outlines the travel schedule, methods of transportation and overall travel budget.  This leaves room for determining daily activities, places to eat and how best to spend time during the day.

SmartIT’s implementation of several systems required separate project plans.  The vendors assigned project managers that provided task level detail to SmartIT.  We augmented those project plans with internal tasks to support the technical implementation as well as organizational change management activities.

Organizational Change Management is a key component of the communication planning as well as a cornerstone of transformational success.  Many transformation projects also seek to change the organizational culture in some way.  Cultural change is arguably the hardest task and is an effort that continues long after the technical changes have been deployed.

There are benefits to project planning other than the obvious ones.  In addition to having a schedule, resource plan, risk management plan and budget, project planning also helps socialize the project with the project team, builds interest and support from the stakeholders and begins the process of socializing the changes among project team peers.  Likewise, once a travel destination is set, putting together an itinerary leads the traveler to better understand the culture and history of the destination.  Understanding the culture and history helps travelers prepare for local behaviors, eating habits, transportation challenges or efficiencies, and provides time to choose the activities that best meet the travel objectives.

When I prepare for a trip, I read about the history of the places I am going to visit, the type of food to be found in each locality, the best modes of transportation as well as local customs and courtesies.  I can prepare myself for how to behave, what I can expect to eat and to better understand and appreciate my surroundings.

As with a well-planned project plan, the executive sponsor, project manager and project team can better understand their expectations (local customs and courtesies), time commitments (transportation and activity time requirements), and project outcomes (travel objectives).

The organizational change management component of the project is appreciating the culture in which you have immersed yourself.  Just as a traveler changes their world view by traveling, even if a little, an employee that experiences business transformation slowly shifts their view of the organization.

In Part I I asked for participation from clients, employees, consultants, contractors and thought leaders.  We are not quite at the stage to solicit external input; however as future episodes of this blog are published I will explain how you can contribute to SmartIT’s transformation initiative.

Happy Travels

About the Author: 

Steve Farley is SmartIT’s Director of Service Delivery. He has over 10 years of experience in the healthcare and financial services industries. He focuses on the delivery framework as it relates to client engagement, specifically in the areas of business process management, project management, and continuous improvement. He has extensive experience delivering value to clients throughout the US and India.