Imagine if your doctor was not constantly updating their skills and providing the most up-to-date advice. I think we all expect that a doctor would do this by default so they can provide the very best of care.
Those in IT should be no different. Technology is constantly evolving, which is why digital transformations can often be complicated. What legacy items stay? Will the new and old work together? Or is there a whole new system that we need to introduce?
Just like the medical fraternity, where different doctors/hospitals have different skills, IT is the same. Some digital transformation companies are specialists in particular technologies. If you are buying, understand their expertise and whether it suits your requirements.
Like any other profession, IT professionals need to be well read and advised. They should seek data and information from multiple sources, take a look at upcoming technology, refer to annual reports that show what's trending and don't be afraid to fail.
Managers/owners should keep staff excited and push them to innovate.
One of the most common problems we see is that companies underestimate the time required to carry out a project, and many want to move on as quickly as possible (even before the job is completed!).
One of the biggest challenges when looking at fixing/updating an existing system is the lack of long-term planning and the reluctance to embrace iterative development.
Most organisations just want to get the transformation done and move on to the next project. But that short-sighted view is what gets many organisations into trouble.
They might want to grow or change their business processes, but their systems can't support it. So often, the change is not made, or the company ends up spending more on people to implement the changes.
Think long term. It can't be stressed enough.
Make sure you choose a technology that you are familiar with. Ensure that it can be updated. Ensure your staff are comfortable with the technology and that if they leave, those coming in will understand it and, more importantly, be able to update it.
If you decide to get a solution that is not off the shelf, you will need to ensure your workforce is able to maintain and evolve it. This should be your mindset at the start of any digital transformation. That's not to say that off-the-shelf solutions are always what they are advertised to be. In most cases, they rarely meet the exact needs of an organisation and have growth limitations of their own, but we'll leave that hot potato for another day.
Trusting a vendor partner is also critical, but many businesses are sceptical – they think you are offering them a solution only so the vendor can increase their profits (or because that is the only technology they completely understand).
Another issue we come across is that often the internal project team loses interest and wants to move on to the next project. The team must stay focused, and this means sticking to the task at hand.
Additionally, companies need to invest in a solution that has a long-term life span. Some companies can't afford full-time staff to look after their solution – that needs to be considered. And if you have internal staff, ensure that if someone leaves, others in the business have the knowledge.
Yes, think about the short-term goals of the project, but also understand what the long-term goal is. Keeping up to date with developments in technology is also important, but that needs to be tempered with not believing all the buzz that might be written about a new technology. Do your own investigating. Get more than one view.
Finally, when choosing a vendor, understand what their history is in delivery but also if they've been engaged after the initial delivery. Technology is like a child, and it continues to grow. You need to ensure you do too.