Change Management: 4 steps to digitalize activities and business processes

5 min

Companies go through periods of transition as they evolve. Each change, in fact, requires the performance of activities that are not productive themselves but are needed to initiate the transformation of processes. This is the start of a change management process requiring a correct strategy, a team that knows how to guide the departments, technologies, and procedures created to measure and monitor the results. Let’s take a look at the 4 steps needed to digitalize business activities and processes.

Digital Change: time to choose

Looking at a working reality and thinking it’s time to change is not an easy choice. However, the technological world is moving at an impressive speed, and organizations that stand still will lose valuable time that they are unlikely to recover.

The moment of choice is crucial because, on the one hand, the business owner will need to take time to reflect before embarking on a transformation process. On the other hand, they will have to consider that arriving first means having more time to plan the strategy well, deferring investments, and obtaining an ROI (Return on Investment) more quickly.

So, why wait? Some companies fear that they will lose market share while undertaking the necessary change management activities. The solution to this problem is to manage the stages of change properly. All parts must work perfectly, and the new must gradually integrate with the old to not lose the initial competitive advantage. A strategy that incorporates the various steps is the perfect map for not getting lost.

step change management

First Stage: strategy considerations

One thing must be clear from the outset: Change Management will involve the entire corporate body. In a journey towards transformation to digital, there will be no departments or processes that will maintain their initial footprint.

The CEO will need to take a holistic approach and assess, in the strategic phase, the impact of actions on people, processes, infrastructure, and workplaces. The result of that assessment will inform what the new direction, goals, and consequently the new vision might be.

This is where the time comes to put pen to paper on the strategy, outlining the value associated with the possible metrics and defining a roadmap that lists the points of the future vision. The more the roadmap is specified, the more it will be possible to have a clear vision of the time and resources needed to start the change.

Second Step: sharing the vision

As in any self-respecting voyage, the commander will need faithful companions who, first and foremost, share the vision and consequently are committed to achieving it by involving the entire crew. This is a moment of confrontation between the strategic roles of the organization.

In the take-charge phase, the roadmap will be shown to the operational managers. The managers of each department will assess how their department’s processes can be transformed concerning the shared vision. They will need to estimate the resources and technologies already acquired and those that will be needed to initiate change.

Crucial in this transition is the CEO’s ability to act on psychological as well as practical aspects. The communication of change must contain words that inspire, motivate and involve all employees. It is this new mindset that will drive the entire organization toward cultural as well as operational change.


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Third Phase: operational implementation

Strategy and initial project management are the pillars of the change that propagates through individual actions. In the operational phase of a digitalization path, technologies will be the absolute protagonists. A corporate digitalization process cannot ignore, for example, automation or, in some cases, the use of Artificial Intelligence.

Initially, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) will support all routine activities that do not require learning. On the other hand, Artificial Intelligence will be the next step that will allow software with automation to learn autonomously.

As previously mentioned, change management will involve everyone, and the motivational drive will not stop with area managers but will also reach junior resources. In addition, any choice or decision made during the process must be reasoned, as it will not be based on experience but on what we would like to achieve in the future.

Such radical changes require a long time for both the start-up phase and the collection of the first concrete results. The risk in these cases is that, over the months, you lose your initial drive and motivation and return to the old way of working. The company thus becomes a hybrid between what it was before and the result of a transformation that was interrupted too soon. According to the Boston Consulting Group, 50% of organizational change projects do not achieve their goals.

What can be done to prevent the digitalization journey from grinding to a halt? Small victories can be celebrated by setting short-term steps. Regardless of the financial return, achieving these micro-goals will serve to motivate the resources committed to the long marathon.

Step Four: measuring results

In a change as radical as enterprise digitalization, even results can’t be achieved in a short time. However, the important thing is to constantly monitor values indicative of the health of the process to understand if we are on the right track. This is the stage where you highlight the metrics that are useful for measuring performance.

In the case of business processes digitalization, we can monitor:

  • The increased performance of departments that have automated processes. In the case of a digitalized business process, you can monitor the improved performance of those departments that have automated processes. Typically, the percentage increase in this value increases significantly with automation.
  • The increase in the satisfaction of clients whose services have been changed. Reducing the delivery time of a product or project, for example, greatly increases Customer Satisfaction. This is achieved by adopting RPA software that greatly reduces the development time of a solution and often improves communication with customers through Chatbots.
  • Reducing errors due to change. During the training period, it will happen that resources make mistakes or platforms and software contain system bugs in their beta phase. Tracking this issue is used to understand when the process has passed the transformation phase and is effective and efficient in all respects.
  • Reducing the number of tasks performed by old methods. Resources in a company may be the strongest resistance to change. Getting people out of their comfort zone, out of their job that has been done a certain way for years, is not easy. Obviously, there will also be people for whom change is an incentive to improve, but in the first period, it will be necessary to monitor all responses. It will be necessary to assess how many actions will be carried out using the new methods and how many will deviate from them.

The journey to digitalizing an entire organization is long and complex. In addition to management, the approach and mindset of the resources that make up a company will have to change. To tackle it in the best possible way, it is necessary to share the vision with everyone and make it clear that they will be asked to create a more outstanding commitment in the first period and then feel lighter when the transition is complete. In fact, after digitalization, activities will be less stressful and more productive. The earlier you decide to go through this change, the greater the competitive advantage you will gain in the market.

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