Andy Farmer
By Andy Farmer on 27 Jun, 2022

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, digital transformation was on every organisation’s agenda. With many forced to self-serve and work remotely for long periods during the crisis – something that continues for many - some organisations quickly rose to the challenge and accelerated their digital programmes, realising that customer needs had changed.

The Covid-19 pandemic has proved the paramount importance of digital. Accelerating digital transformation should remain a top priority for all organisations.

But, with around 70% of digital transformation programmes failing, ensuring a successful outcome can be challenging at the best of times.

Common reasons for failure include not engaging and getting buy-in from the right stakeholders, not communicating with the board in a way that resonates with their organisational priorities, and not being able to demonstrate a solid business case that secures investment.

If you’re leading a transformation programme, you need to ensure it has the best chance of success. It’s your responsibility to be ahead of the curve and get your board on-board.

We recently spoke to members of the Financial Services Forum on how to achieve buy-in from C-levels for your digital programmes.


Here’s how we think you should do it.

1. Place a well-evidenced strategic BET

One of the misconceptions of a digital transformation programme is that it’s just a technology re-platforming exercise.

In such situations, investment in new systems is seen as a goal in itself – by reducing the inefficiencies of legacy technology and providing greater flexibility and enhanced future capability. However, major re-platform projects can be long and costly, with the benefits not always easily quantifiable. Added to which, unforeseen operational implications, and the need to re-think the legacy processes that accompany the systems being replaced are not always top of mind. There’s a tendency for stakeholders to focus on ‘best in class’ software investment with blue-chip providers to feel confident about their decision.

Whilst technology is important, it’s a tool that acts as the enabler of your transformation. It’s not the answer itself.

Ultimately, new technology should deliver long-term business advantage (as opposed to doing the same things better) and a step-change in how you engage with new and current audiences (both internal and internal).

When initiating a digital transformation programme, it’s crucial you have a clear vision for what your organisation wants to achieve, what success looks like, and what customer behaviours you need to change to get there.

A phased or incremental investment might be needed, based on your organisation’s current level of digital maturity, but it’s vital that your technology choices are based on meeting these goals.

At DCX, we use a methodology called BET (Business, Experience, and Technology) to help clients gain clarity around their digital transformation initiatives.

  • The business component examines whether the digital programme will be viable in terms of your organisation’s goals. Will it generate the desired return? Does it meet your business objectives?
  • The experience component asks whether the initiative is what your audience really wants and anticipates their needs and pain-points.
  • The technology component determines the feasibility of the initiative, asking whether it can be delivered effectively, for the right money, at the right time.

Through a combination of stakeholder interviews and first-party research, as well as market analysis and quantitative modelling that highlight opportunities that sit at the intersection of the three BET components, you can create a digital roadmap that both recognises operational realities and works for your business and your customers.

In your discussions with the board, it’s always valuable to compare your organisation to companies with similar business challenges both inside and outside your industry – but ones that have successfully invested in digital.

Benchmarking against only your direct competitors – and no-one outside your industry – can lead to enhancements that are driven by convention, rather than something that changes the rules of the game.

Using the BET methodology, you can craft a compelling picture of what works, and you can show your executives how digital can deliver competitive advantage.

2. Win hearts and minds

Having effective senior sponsorship is particularly important. You’re unlikely to get anywhere without it.

It can be daunting to think about how many different stakeholders you need to convince to get on-board with your digital transformation initiative. Partnering with a ’person on the inside’ – ideally a like-minded board member - can help to drive momentum, as well as help to broker difficult conversations.

And don’t forget the CFO. The Chief Financial Officer’s support is essential. And there is a clear path to earning it...

By providing well-evidenced ROI models that are based on sensible assumptions to quantify your business case, you can add rigour to the process and get board stakeholders such as the CFO on-board early. Getting them involved in the conversation from the start minimises the risk of difficult conversations later. They also become invested in the programme and are likely to suggest helpful enhancements to your plan.

But successfully delivering a clear, actionable digital transformation plan is about more than just a strong business case. There’s also an important human component.

Transformations affect many parts of a business and many people within it, not all of whom will have been part of the planning process, or even consulted about it. Lack of understanding about what the transformation is trying to achieve, and what their role is in it, is a very common reason for internal audiences disengaging and transformation initiatives failing as they roll out.

Internal stakeholder management from the get-go is essential. During the early planning stages, you need to identify core stakeholders across different disciplines, people who can co-create the vision but also help inspire and sell it into their teams.

As your programme develops, an internal stakeholder communications plan will help ensure that everyone in the organisation understands and supports the digital transformation effort. This will also provide confidence to the board that the entire organisation is behind the changes.

3. Speak the board’s language

Whilst the make-up of today’s board is changing rapidly, it’s still likely that most board executives in traditional market sectors did not reach that position by being digital experts. They may understand the fundamentals but not the detail and certainly not the acronyms.

Keeping your explanation simple, clear, and focused on the features and benefits of your recommendation is essential.

This, again, is where having a board sponsor in place is an advantage. Having created your ‘long hand’ roadmap, you can use the sponsor to help refine it down to the key messages and use them as a sounding board during dry runs. This will ensure you drive the important points home and you have the key board-centric questions covered.

So, where do you start?

A digital transformation programme all starts with setting a common vision across the business - one which everyone buys into.

To do this, it's important to go back to your organisation's goals, strategies, and brand proposition - and ensure these are the driving force for your change.

Then, talk to key influencers, subject matter experts, and business unit leaders from around your organisation to see what their current challenges and ambitions are, to see if they align with the goals of your digital transformation initiative. But don’t just take their word for it – go out and get independent views on the current state of your organisation through expert reviews of current systems and processes and use analytics to deep-dive into problematic user behaviours and pinch-points.

Creating a digital objectives framework is also a good starting point for discussion.

This is a ‘pitch on page’ that details a working mission statement, strategies, tactics, and success measures for the programme. It allows all stakeholders to easily see what the transformation is for, and it acts as a reference point from which to measure progress as your transformation unfolds.

At DCX, we use a series of steps to understand how your business works, and what needs to change to reach your digital transformation goals.

By understanding different department needs, current gaps, and how this all relates to your business vision, you can be more confident presenting a clear case to convince your board and get your hands on the investment you need.

Paragon-DCX_Digital-Transformation-Steps (1)

Get started with your digital transformation today!

Getting the board behind your digital transformation initiative can seem daunting. But with a versatile partner by your side that can tackle complex business and digital challenges, it should be easy.

We know a thing or two about bringing digital transformation programmes to life, with success.

Passionate about finding new, innovative solutions that address your challenges or pain-points, we provide optimal digital solutions that will support your technical and business needs, and deliver ground-breaking, leading-edge experiences for your customers.

To learn more about how we can help you secure complete board buy-in to a fresh digital approach that will deliver exceptional value, just get in touch.

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