In today’s landscape, it’s clear that leveraging digital technology is key to generating revenue growth, ensuring regulatory compliance, meeting environmental targets, satisfying investors, and bringing organizations into the future. That’s why so many businesses are taking this important step, if they haven’t already.
Unfortunately, many of the businesses that attempt to digitally transform their operations will fail.
In fact, BCG estimates that 70 percent of digital implementations are, to some degree, a failure, and Consortium for Information and Software Quality reports that the costs of these unsuccessful development projects are high. In 2020, failed software implementations cost businesses $260 billion in just the United States alone.
This astounding rate of failure (and the steep price tag associated with it) can make the thought of implementing a digital strategy incredibly intimidating. No one wants to waste their time and money and wind up with nothing to show for it.
The good news? You can avoid such a fate and start realizing the benefits of digital technology right out of the gate, as long as you approach your digital transformation the right way. As you consider implementing a software project or platform, there are four things you can do to avoid unforeseen costs.
1. Ensure Projects are Thoroughly Scoped
“Scope creep” refers to the continuous uncontrolled growth of a project that has ventured far from the original project guidelines and costs provided. Ensuring the project is well defined is a crucial step for leaders who are on the cusp of purchasing software or greenlighting a new custom project.
Before a project begins, you should fully understand what you’re hoping to accomplish from it. What are your long-term goals? What kind of ROI can you reasonably expect? With those questions answered, you should start to understand how your budget can be best utilized and when it is (or isn’t) okay to exceed it.
Costs can be measured in many ways, however, and budgetary concerns are not the only aspect of scope creep to be careful of. You can also risk squandering your most important resources—your employees— by piling more and more work on their plates as a project grows increasingly out of control. That costs money, too.
One way to avoid this scenario is to rely on out-of-the-box solutions from third parties that have been doing implementations long enough to know what scope creep pitfalls to avoid—and that have the strong expertise and support you need to free your employees get back to doing what they do best.
2. Limit the Need for Your Experts’ Time
Software should ease the burden on IT and functional teams, not the other way around. Expecting IT experts to meet 8 hours a week over a several-month-long implementation is not only costly, but also unrealistic.
Look for turnkey enterprise solutions that can be implemented in under three months and easily adopted by users. Because they are less disruptive to your operations, these solutions afford the critical advantage of reducing the time your IT experts must spend on project implementation.
3. Build a “Digital Forward” Culture
People can be resistant to change. We like our routines, and it’s always easier and more comfortable for us to just continue with what we’ve been doing. The numbers bear this out: according to McKinsey & Company, the reason that 70% of digital implementations fail is poor internal adoption. The very people who rely on these solutions day to day are often left out of implementation.
For organizations that have been doing things a certain way for a long time, there can often be inertia to overcome and a lack of buy-in (or at minimum, a lack of urgency) when it comes to disrupting the status quo by implementing a digital-first strategy.
Indeed, one of the biggest barriers to a successful implementation is not engaging all levels of the business. Business leaders must be transparent—particularly with those on the front line—on the benefits of digital transformation to the company, its customers, and end users.
Growing pains are inevitable, but they can be minimized (see #2 above)—and they are nothing compared to the pains of a failed implementation and your business needing to start all over again. Your digital transformation partner should be engaged throughout the deployment to help you navigate this crucial change and minimize any sources of friction for your teams.
4. Build the Right Solution
Technology alone won’t power your digital transformation. You need the right talent as well. Implementing a digital strategy will bring its share of technical challenges, so it’s critical that you have the right people on board—people who truly understand your business and can build you what you need. Regardless of the size and skill of your IT team, it pays to look outside and find the right business partners that can help you along this digital journey.
So, what kind of partner do you need to build the right solution the first time?
It’s important to look for a software development partner that places business needs and customer success at the forefront when scoping projects. In addition to meeting the original objectives, the solution should scale with your evolving requirements. Platforms imperative to business processes related to environmental health and safety (EHS), or environmental, social, and governance (ESG) more broadly, should scale and be adaptive to ever-changing market and regulatory demands as well as technological advancements.
If you have a digital partner currently, ask yourself these questions:
• How quickly does your software provider respond to unforeseen business requirements and regulatory changes?
• Are they capable of seamlessly integrating Artificial Intelligence (AI), Beacons, Sensors, and other advanced technologies into your current solution?
• Is your current solution continuously enhanced at no cost to you?
If you couldn’t answer “yes” to all three questions, you might want to reexamine your provider relationship or explore other options so you can avoid common implementation headaches in the future.
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