A look at Precursive’s path to digital transformation — and a few key lessons we learned along the way
Many of us will have been involved in some form of large scale change in our current or previous company. The goal can start as something inspirational (achievable even) but then end in disaster; a car crash of tattered dreams and ‘transformation remorse’ with lots of people standing around thinking ‘we’re back where we started’ — or worse, ‘we’ve gone backwards.’
Some look at the plethora of stuff written on ‘Digital Transformation’ with a healthy dose of skepticism. There may be a consulting firm or technology vendor in your offices as we speak, pitching this dream and you are already thinking that things could go up in smoke. You are not alone, far from it — we’ve felt that way and so have our customers who are own their own form of digital journey.
At Precursive, we’re looking for ways to support and further enable the future growth of our business. We always try to centre our business around the mantra ‘build to scale.’ To achieve this, we found that we needed to change our ways of working to create more scalability and repeatability for both the people and the company. Technology would play a critical role in helping us achieve this, and whilst we didn’t label the change as ‘Digital Transformation,’ that’s exactly what it became.
So, what did we learn from our experience?
Lesson 1: Get meaningful consensus
In any relatively complex project, you can expect to have more than three and up to 30 people involved with different views and personalities. Avoid gathering consensus from people by asking ‘what does this need to achieve for you?’ After the fifth person, you’ll have a requirements list as long as your arm. Rather, you should try to centre the discussion around something that you can all agree on and support. Here’s an example of how you can map this out.
Lesson 2: Use Clear, Concise Communications
Badly worded, poorly thought out and easily forgotten communication is very often where these initiatives fall down. What’s the key to good communications? Preparation. Before you even start the email, conversation, or presentation on the topic of your transformation, you need to prepare how you will structure your message to gain support from your team.
We have found that using a short survey to gather peoples’ opinions in advance and letting their thoughts/words/ideas frame the discussion can create more ‘pull through’ rather than ‘push’. By seeking their opinion, you show that they matter — and then you need to demonstrate that you have listened. Use this insight or data from your survey to frame WHY you are going down this path and HOW you will ensure that this will be successful.
Lesson 3: Choreograph the Change
Think of the work like a great meal. There’s a starter that is tasty and easy to digest, a main course which is an experience and memorable, and a dessert that is definitely a nice to have and a bit of an indulgence. However, you wouldn’t ask for the waiter to bring all your food at the same time. As you go on this journey, you want to break it up into manageable stages.
The first step should be to take down something that is of high value to the business but can be addressed in a short period of time, ideally less than three months. When you think about that value, ensure that you review things that are good for your business but also for your customers. Make sure you get through this first phase and celebrate the success — share feedback from customers with your team about what you have achieved!
Now you have built credibility and confidence to embark on the larger more complex change aka the main course! If you don’t want this second part to fail, you need to have the right amount of resources to deliver and put your best people on it to ensure that you execute well. Your best people — this is really really important. You never hire an external vendor and say to them when you sign the contract, “Please put the most average people you have on this”.
Finally (and ONLY if you haven’t expended too much energy/money/time on the first two courses!), you can afford to be a bit indulgent and look to address something that’s a nice-to-have, but could also create some significant long-term value.
Going back to our mealy metaphor, you wouldn’t go out to dinner again after you just finished a three-course meal, would you? Allow you, your team, and your business the time to generate returns from your investment. Having the right coaching, on-going communications, and methods to measure success is as important as the transformation itself.
In our own transformation, we wanted to have the minimum amount of integrated applications to support our business processes. Why is this so important? Real-time data puts information in the hands of our team that improves their decision-making at speed. This creates scale and ensures conversations with customers are based on “we know” not “we think.”
Salesforce provides a unique platform to help achieve this scale. We are able to track opportunities, forecasts, and activities through Salesforce CRM. We run resource planning and track project margins through Precursive, our project managers use Taskfeed, support is managed through Zendesk, developers live in Jira, and finance gets everyone paid and cash in the door through Xero. ALL of the data from these applications lives in Salesforce so that our customer success and leadership teams can see meaningful data on us and our customers at anytime. A single source of the truth.
You can’t challenge your own thinking about how to grow your business if you can’t speak truthfully about what’s actually going on.
Precursive helps technology and professional services companies to grow. Learn more about really simple resource management in Salesforce here.
A Pragmatic Guide to Digital Transformation was originally published in Inside the Salesforce Ecosystem on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.