Transformation can be challenging, but lasting change can work if you take the right approach.

The term ‘digital transformation’ is used so often it’s in danger of becoming meaningless. It’s assumed that everyone is on board with what transformation means and how to go about doing it.

Transformation has been described as trying to dismantle and put together an engine while making sure that the wheels keep turning. If you want to transform manual and disparate processes into something connected, you need to know where to start. You need to know where your existing processes lead and feed into the business.

Start with why

So make it meaningful. If a team knows why they are doing something and how the changes will affect them and the business, they are much more likely to be on board with it. Over 60% of transformation projects fail because the people involved don’t recognise the value in it enough to change in the way that the business wanted them to.

Collaborate – make sure relationships are a win/win

It’s best to realise that there are no short cuts. Just because you, as the leader of the project, want something to work, doesn’t mean others will automatically fall into step. The project leader needs to make sure that everyone understands the needs and aims of everyone else – including your suppliers. So, you need to collaborate. You have to realise that whether it’s inter-department, across the business or with external stakeholders, there must be a demonstrable win/win. All parties in the relationship need to see enough value in the partnership to want to maintain it.

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It’s all about your team

To deliver any project, you’ve got to have the right team on board. Think long and hard about the critical stakeholders you’ll need and the team you’ll need to deliver it. It’s often worth starting with that one person who seems most against it. If you can change that person’s mind, you may find that person becomes your best asset in driving change. At the same time, if it’s clear that some people are not the right fit, then you need to act decisively.

Make it realistic

There’s nothing that derails a project faster than setting unachievable goals. To be resilient in times of crisis, you need to make sure that you directly align those goals and your KPIs to the core business. Once you have identified the outcomes you need, make sure that you don’t get distracted or drift away from your targets.

Spend money on growth

As this year moves into the next, insight into your end-to-end process across the business is going to be critical to success. Without technology on your side, the right people at its heart and new, tightened processing, that’s going to be impossible to do.

According to Gartner, the CFOs who successfully weathered the storms of 2008 protected costs that drove new growth. Any digital transformation project should have development and innovation at its heart. If your team, solution provider, culture, processes and suppliers are aligned with that goal and are ambitious in driving it, it’s much more likely that you’ll be successful.

Time to transform again

Your long-term plan needs to stretch into the next two to three years. Such a distant view can feel overwhelming. It often helps to celebrate small incremental wins along the way, but digital transformation is a journey that never ends. Although the company has changed, it’s important to remember that you’ll never come across a stop sign. You’ll need to pull in at the petrol station from time to time, have a breather, and set off again.

Ellen Leith is editor of P2P Network, which reaches over 14,000 key decision makers in the finance, procurement, supply chain sectors across a variety of different industries.