The advancement of the digital economy and its rapid growth in recent years has completely changed the way organizations do business. In this context, it is extremely important for business and industry leaders like you to understand what a digital transformation strategy is and how it can be implemented in an organization.
Digital transformation is the integration of technology in all areas of a company, changing the way in which the organization generates value for its clients and stakeholders. Digital transformation implies a change in the culture, mentality and way of working of managers, employees, and other collaborators. It leads to the development of a culture focused on innovation, which can also bring a competitive advantage for your company.
According to a Boston Consulting Group study, only 30% of companies that begin a digital transformation process successfully complete it. This is the case because digital transformation is an arduous process and requires the alignment of all areas of a company.
An example of digital transformation
Imagine a company like yours that sells products and provides services to its customers. This company works with two core areas in its business: the one in charge of marketing and selling the products; and the area dedicated to providing after-sales service to customers. Both areas have individual databases, independent sales, monitoring, control and measurement processes and procedures, which makes it difficult to provide comprehensive offers for clients.
Now let’s imagine that this company decides to get involved in a digital transformation process… Broadly speaking, we could think of a context where the top management of the company decides to digitize all operations in both areas: automate monitoring, incorporate a customer data management system, digitize contact with suppliers and the supply chain, among others. To consider this process a digital transformation, it would be necessary for the company to adopt a strategy to unify its offer, ensuring that these two areas manage to work together, optimizing work and mutual collaboration.
Why do you need a digital transformation strategy?
We could talk about several advantages of digitization and digital transformation. Most of the time, digital transformation responds to an organizational need to modernize, changing internal processes, restructuring the culture, and incorporating the necessary technologies to face the constant and changing demands of the market.
The key is that technology should not be a peripheral support in the organization, but that it should represent the heart of the business and support the operations and strategy of each and every one of the company’s areas.
We can understand then that successful digital transformation is a process that can take years, because it involves all parts of a company. But when this process is finally finished, it is capable of generating returns and creating capitalized value in results.
At Huenei we help one of our clients, ICBC, to form a support and maintenance team for the establishment and opening of bank branches. The process represented a digitization of processes and restructuring of the priorities of various areas. The results were very positive, reflected for example in an increase in customer satisfaction indicators.
Another success story related to digital transformation is the work we’ve done for YPF, which consisted in the development of a mobile application for employees, with the functionality of allowing them to request materials for oil wells. Its implementation required, in addition to the development itself, an alignment of different areas and teamwork towards the digitization of activities. The result was an improvement in the work of oil well operators.
Processes. The second key element of digital transformation is processes. These are the organizational dynamics that allow companies to communicate the technology used in different departments with people. In a digital transformation process, the end user must always be at the center of decisions.
Culture. If you want to change a company, you have to start with its culture. Organizational culture is understood as the set of values, customs and rules that determine the behavior of people within your organization. An adequate culture for digital transformation is one that allows the creation of an environment that stimulates constant innovation, communication between different areas and the use of technology to improve processes.
To achieve alignment with the digital transformation environment, companies need to start thinking more horizontally, move away from hierarchical or vertical dynamics, and focus on finding ways where the different teams of the company begin to share ideas, objectives, and work spaces. In this sense, the advent of organizations focused on learning, knowledge management and the importance of the intellectual capital of organizations is key. Communities of practice are workgroups focused on generating knowledge that can provide your organization with an ideal environment for digital transformation.
Successful digitally transformed companies
During our years of work, we have managed to implement the digital transformation in Huenei, and accompany many clients in their innovation and change processes. From these experiences, we have observed some characteristics that companies that manage to digitally transform share. We’d like to tell you what we believe the main characteristics of successfully digitally transformed companies are.
Ever wonder why projects fail? We already know the causes of failure but we continue to make the same mistakes… If you are passionate about transformation, technology, people and project management, this article is just for you. We are going to address the main considerations of lean project management so that you can start implementing it in your organization.
In a context of digital transformation where it is very difficult to separate processes from people and technology, the power of an organization lies in the ability of employees to reinvent themselves, both at the leadership and technical levels. Lean Project Management isn’t just a framework, but a management philosophy that allows you to see beyond the day-to-day, focusing on the business variables that matter most to project stakeholders.
Although it originated in manufacturing environments –in fact, the methodology was born in 1920 with the mass production of Henry Ford–, Lean can be useful in projects of any kind and is increasingly being implemented in technology companies.
First things first: What is a project?
The Project Management Institute tells us that a project is a temporary endeavor that is incurred to create a one-of-a-kind product or service. In other words, we can understand a project as an accumulation of operations specifically designed and combined to achieve a particular objective. For this, a pre-established scope and timing must be set, and human, material, financial and economic resources are used.
The project is one of a kind, it seeks a significant change that creates value and enhances differentiation, in addition to having a defined duration and a time limit. We should not confuse it with the daily operation of an organization. This latter one is repetitive; the same tasks are always developed to obtain a result, so the duration could be indefinite.
In order to correctly approach a project, it is essential to define the following aspects:
Let’s now talk about what’s important: What is Lean Project Management?
Lean, as a management philosophy, follows the objective of systematically eliminate everything that doesn’t add value to the organization, and therefore to its projects. The purpose is for organizations to be more agile and competitive by increasing their efficiency and reducing associated costs. It also focuses on achieving an effective satisfaction of market demands with low inventory levels.
As key learnings of Lean project management, the following stand out:
The customer defines the concept of “value” since the company focuses on satisfying their specific needs.
Tolerance to waste (of resources, financial, time, etc.) must be zero.
A Lean project is supported by the following stages:
Step 1. Planning. The purpose of this first stage is to confirm the general objectives and focus of the project. Key activities in this phase include:
Define the objectives and expected results, as well as the deliverables of each stage.
Identify delivery dates and deadlines.
Document and agree on the project plan, considering the available resources.
Map risks and specifically weight those of high impact, identifying mitigating measures.
A fundamental tool for the planning stage is Value Stream Maping. It is a graphic technique that let’s you visualize a whole process, allowing you to fully understand the work flow, both at the information and material levels. With this technique, the activities that do not add value to the process are identified in order to try to eliminate them.
Step 2: Organization. The objective of this phase is to know what processes must be implemented to comply with the project planning. Key activities in this phase include:
Identify workflows, considering key events and key interdependencies.
Organize available resources and assign responsibilities based on them.
Define quality management and control procedures to be applied in the execution stage.
Establish project monitoring mechanisms in line with the defined governance model.
The key tool for this stage is the Work Breakdown Structure. It is a deliverable-oriented grouping of project elements that organizes and defines the total scope of the initiative.
Step 3: Execution and Control. In this phase we focus on implementing the plan. We seek to monitor actual progress and compare it with the plan, correcting deviations when necessary. The key activities to highlight are:
Implement the approved and agreed plan.
Keep the team and stakeholders informed.
Correct deviations rapidly.
Monitor progress and manage costs, optimizing the budget.
At this stage, Cause-Effect Analysis (aka Ishikawa’s Fishbone) is very useful. This is a technique in which all possible reasons for a specific problem are brainstormed and structured according to a cause-and-effect graph, allowing the identification of potential improvement opportunities to optimize operations.
Fishbone Diagram Example by WallStreetMojo
Step 4: Closure and Retrospective. In this last stage, the performance obtained through the project management process is evaluated. This will make it possible to capitalize on lessons learned about the project and capture the knowledge, to take advantage of it in the future. It is an instance of reflection, learning and recording of the knowledge generated.
Now you know the different instances of the Lean Project Management methodology. At Huenei we structure our projects and work processes focusing on both agile and Lean methodologies. We invite you to review our Dedicated Teams, Staff Augmentation and Turnkey Projects services to learn more about our way of working.
It’s quite common for a company to offer products or solutions based on what managers believe customers need. From their personal experiences or from the subjective observation of the context, companies generate an idea of what they think the user will value. However, the reality is that, most of the time, a brand and its collaborators’ ideas are far away from what the user really needs.
For this reason, it is important to have information and insights, combined with user feedback, in order to generate an optimal solution without risking high costs and failure.
What is Design Thinking?
Design Thinking is a methodology of iteration, exploration, design and development. It is a process to generate ideas based on the understanding of the real needs of a user. It pursues the objective of thinking about the design of a solution following a detected need and counting on user feedback.
Last but not least, it is an iterative process. Although a series of stages are established, it is important to know that iteration means that one can go back and forth, skip stages, or perform them at the same time.
Let’s look at the stages of the Design Thinking process and analyze what each one represents. We will illustrate the process using the example of a UX/UI development project we carried out for YPF.
Step 1: Empathize to understand the user.
This stage focuses on getting to know the users for whom we are going to develop a solution. Understanding what their needs are, how they operate, how their context is composed and what they need.
For this we can observe and listen to the users through different consumer research techniques: in-depth interviews, focus groups, benchmarks, surveys, among others. In the case of the YPF project, the Huenei team had different instances of conversations with the areas of interest and future users of the software in order to fully understand their needs.
A very powerful and useful tool, which draws on the techniques mentioned above, is the empathy map. It is a canvas that allows us to land our findings and thus be able to know the user from four perspectives: understand what they say and what they do, know what they think and what they feel, understand what they hear, and identify what they see.
Illustration by Nielsen Norman Group
Step 2: Defining the problem
After the previous step, we have to start defining what the scope of our challenge is going to be; what we are going to work on. At this point we must define the problem and focus our objective. To define this goal, a key recommendation is to think about the following phrase:
How could we…?
All the information that we collect in the empathizing stage, which allowed us to truly get to know the user, will allow us to correctly define this question and thus develop our research problem. In our UX/UI development project for YPF, the company needed to provide its team with a solution to streamline tasks related to oil rig management.
Step 3: Ideate to generate concepts and synthesize to define courses of action.
Once we define the question we want to answer (also known as the challenge), the ideation stage arrives. It consists of being able to think as many ideas as possible to give a solution to that question. Quantity is more important than quality here. In this sense, work teams have a wide variety of ideation techniques, such as brainstorming, that allow thinking outside the box and arriving at disruptive ideas.
Then we will carry out a synthesis process, where the ideas are sifted through a process of convergence. For this, there are also techniques that teams use in order to select the ideas that are really appropriate from the perspective of the user (satisfaction of their need) and the business (viability of resources and financial outcomes).
As you can see, this stage is characterized by a great divergence (ideation) and convergence (synthesis) in terms of the process. In fact, the design thinking methodology in general is represented by a constant interaction between divergence and convergence.
Illustration by ICF International
Following the example of YPF, the Huenei team came up with a large number of ideas, which were subsequently able to converge based on the specific needs of the client: an application with high levels of usability, which could be integrated with the other management platforms of YPF.
Step 4: Prototype to show the user a possible solution.
Once we have defined some potential solutions, they shall be prototyped. Depending on the amount of ideas we had, we can prototype two, three, or four of them approximately. Prototypes are a powerful and essential tool in innovation because they allow us to turn ideas into something tangible at low cost. These prototypes allow us to implement the philosophy of agile methodologies: “test fast, at low cost, and iterate the solution quickly.”
Prototypes can be high fidelity but they can also be very simple concepts, such as storytelling, drawings, PowerPoint slides, among others. There are different types of prototypes and each team will define the optimal one based on the needs of the project and the resources available.
For YPF, we carried out an interactive prototype with the Just in Mind tool, which allowed us to validate the interaction and design of the user interface in the early stages.
Step 5: Test to get user feedback.
Once we’ve made the prototype, it’s time to evaluate it. This stage consists of letting a (generally small) sample of users interact with the prototype, in order to obtain feedback from them. When the prototype is considered as adequate to solve the challenge, it can advance the the development of the final product. But in cases where the prototype does not meet the user’s needs, you must go back to previous stages of the Design Thinking process to make adjustments.
Our solution for YPF consisted on the development of a mobile application that allowed the company to achieve an improvement in the employees’ performance.
Design thinking is a powerful methodology that can help your company to efficiently develop the right solution for your user. At Huenei we can help you get to your objectives through our developments based on agile methodologies.
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