With digital transformation being a strikingly popular topic in recent years, is it simply a tech industry “hype” or an absolute must-have across all industries? And if you were to partner up with a digital consultancy to support you in achieving your goals, what are the key rules for a successful digital partnership?
In 2023, no industry is immune to going digital
Let’s take a look at agriculture. Although it’s a traditionally ‘offline’ industry, farmers and agronomists rely on information to make better decisions, from crop rotations to animal feed and fertilizers. An agriculture data organisation that works with MMT on their digital transformation, uses satellite data processed in the Cloud to better inform farmers and agronomists. This improved access to information allows them to get better yields with less input, well-timed response, and reduced costs.
Another example from the MMT client portfolio is a pharmaceutical enterprise that now generates a significantly larger portion of its revenue through their web and app stores, compared to traditional brick-and-mortar sales. "Black Friday” is one of its busiest online times of the year where software development and engineering teams are monitoring and troubleshooting sales volumes due to peak sales.
No business is immune from having to “go digital” – yet what does it actually look like? And if you decide to partner up with a digital consultancy to accelerate your digital strategy and digital product delivery, how do you make the most of this partnership and achieve your goals at speed and with an optimal return of investment?
Why some digital transformations fail
MMT’s tens of thousands of hours of digital consulting experience across a huge range of industries informs us of what works, and what doesn't. Whether your organisation is just starting its transformation, or it’s already on its digital journey, progress blockers and productivity slowdowns exist in every enterprise. Moreover, they universally accumulate over time. Just like technical debts build up in software code without careful attention, so do business processes.
This is especially visible in companies that have operated for decades without significant restructuring. In scenarios of rapid growth, headcount has been added at rapid pace without careful consideration to organisational structure, value streams, and the operating model. This is further exacerbated by the ease of outsourcing – where suddenly Business Analysists from a third-party supplier can outnumber your internal stakeholders. Before long, it can seem nearly impossible to take a concept from incubation to product to revenue.
This endemic situation becomes even more inflamed as product streams diversify and technology proliferates throughout the value model of even the most traditional businesses, further obfuscating the path to lean execution. As inefficiencies accumulate, they ultimately slow the delivery to market of products and services. This can create devastating negative feedback loops where a lack of quick delivery is seen as “normal” and even “thoughtful prudence”.
The good news is - it doesn’t have to be this way.
What it truly means to 'transform' a business
We have learned that digital can enable every part of every organisation from finance to marketing. That said, companies often consider IT and software developments as specific enablers that often end up disjointed from the rest of the business.
Today, these silos no longer work as technology becomes central to any business, and, subsequently, business transformation. In other words, IT and software development are directly connected to the outcomes that a business needs to generate revenue. For example, a continuous development cadence that is not project-based allows for far smoother allocation of funds from Finance, rather than issuing regular starts and stops through distinct Projects. It’s the mindset as well as a business process that must change in order to transform your enterprise and remain competitive in the digital-first world.
But what does it truly mean to “transform” your business and its operating model? Once an enterprise begins investment to reduce its structural and procedural debt, the entire organisation must appreciate the relevance and the urgency. Simply investing in consultancy time is not enough to make lasting change. Your transformation journey is more than a fixed project and a fixed timeframe – it’s a journey of continuous improvement that helps you accomplish great things, across all value streams, consistently, and with long-lasing results.
Strategic Consulting is an investment in the health of your organisation and a cure for avoiding ubiquitous pitfalls of business transformation. At MMT, through decades of experience, our teams have encountered dozens of execution failures across a wide range of industries, from healthcare to energy to agriculture. We’ve used this vast experience to develop our unique consulting frameworks like North Star, Compass and Engine to reinvigorate digitally led business transformations for our clients. You can read about them in more detail here.
How to reap the full benefits of a digital partnership
At the start of a digital transformation project, a consultancy like MMT will usually conduct a discovery phase to understand how you communicate across teams and value streams, how you manage backlogs and plan releases, and how your digital organisation is structured.
However, there are some valuable pre-engagement preparations you can put in place to ensure a rapid start and a productive engagement with your digital partner:
Focus on outcomes and know which aspects of your value chain a part of this transformation. We’ll work with you to refine and understand where your enterprise realises its value, but bringing your view to the table at the onset helps us to get a jump start.
Arrange for our staff to have access to your primary tools and systems, e.g. to JIRA or Azure DevOps, so that we may analyse how you implement your software and plan improvements. Physical access to your premises may also need to be arranged in advance before we begin, e.g. background checks for sensitive facilities and industries.
Ensure that you are communicating internally about what is the role of the digital consultancy within your team and the wider business. Facilitate introductions early on.
Hold off on any sweeping initiatives, restructuring, or large-scale hiring before we understand the status quo and can advise where you may be lacking specific competencies or headcount. For example, your digital transformation may need more Product Owners and Scrum Masters, rather than Business Analysts (yes, they are different skillsets). We may also advise where local vs. offshoring may be more effective to achieve desired outcomes.
It’s also critical to maintain momentum by keeping the focus through communities of practice, and potentially long-term engagements with your digital consultancy.
Finally, it’s imperative to understand that a culture shift is a highly likely outcome in most digital transformations. There are multiple initiatives that are necessary to keep on the right path, and include:
Continuous improvement: adopt a culture of regular feedback and retrospective to examine how you could do better next time. For example, was a lack of test automation a hinderance? Was sprint planning accurate? Was finance approval a barrier to rapid releases?
Regular course corrections: don’t delay acting on the learnings from a feedback session after each release iteration. Your organisation must be ready and committed to make changes when problems are identified.
Upskilling: make sure the right people are in the right roles. For example, when hiring, what positions make the most sense for any given project? Are existing staff familiar with new ways of working? There are many training courses and opportunities available.
Workflow analysis: take time to understand where your organisation generates its value. Organising development around value streams will accelerate your ability to take an idea from conception to product rapidly.
By addressing these fundamentals, you will achieve quicker ROI on your Strategic Consulting investment, translating to a high-quality outcome.
Whether augmenting your teams to bring out their potential or having our digital transformation specialists change how you deliver value to your customers, we’re there to support your digital growth and execution well into the future.
If you’d like to discuss how our Strategic Consultancy services can help your business, get in touch on email@example.com. About the author:
Jeff Mallchok is a Product Lead at MMT, having consulted independently for fifteen years for organisations with markets in the USA, Europe, and the Middle East. His experience is focused on lean transformations, product alignment across large enterprises, technical specification strategies, and implementation of agile workflows. Jeff has also previously helped to deploy to new markets for existing enterprises in Singapore, Australia and the USA. He also managed teams in various roles in the IT and Healthcare industries. Jeff is passionate about finding new and more efficient ways of working and cutting through red tape to get effective solutions deployed.