Digital maturity isn't a nice to have, it's a necessity. 

But if you're like most organizations, you're probably trying to figure out how to move forward. 

We've already covered the four stages of digital maturity: reaction, strategy, synthesis, and optimization. You have to move through each one in a natural progression.

But just because you have to go through four stages, doesn't mean you have to move forward slowly. 

Here are five ways to accelerate your digital maturity roadmap: 

1. Align with a Partner 

Some organizations can do it alone, but most need support. 

Closely aligning with a partner or digital vendor can speed your way forward. 

A design agency will help you understand the requirements for a website rebranding or redesign. If you have an internal design team, look for a partner or software provider that can work with you to clarify your vision and map it to a strategy and implementation plan. 

Don't forget about your team during this stage. Invest in training them in the technologies and strategies you plan to implement to move forward — and make sure any partner you work with is committed to helping your internal team grow. 

2. Get Executive Buy-in Early On 

This point cannot be emphasized enough — it's critical to ensure you move forward quickly. 

Start the dialog early with management. Be sure they understand what you are trying to achieve and why it's important to the business.  

Define a vision for the digital program, and develop a mid-range roadmap that clearly lays out the steps needed. Secure a C-Suite sponsor who will promote the vision and help ensure everyone follows the roadmap.  

3. Build a Foundation for Future Goals, Not Present Reality

In your quest for digital maturity, you will need to evaluate your existing toolset, and you'll likely find out you need new tools. Vet your tools based on where you want to go, not where you are today.  

In some cases, you'll need to buy technology to support your vision right away. In other cases, the technology's roadmap will align with your roadmap, so you'll know you are buying a technology that will grow with you. The key is to make sure your platforms can support the long range vision. 

A note of caution: Don't trade usability for functionality. The extra effort to develop a solution on top of a platform is less expensive than having tools that are too big or complicated to use. 

4. Don't Rush Digital Transformation 

You can accelerate maturity, but you cannot skip the phases. Stay patient and continue to advance your programs. Doing it right the first time is much better than rushing through and discovering you've made mistakes that change the whole process. 

No one likes a do-over when it isn't necessary. 

If you do implement a technology or strategy and find out you've made a mistake, fail fast and move on. Failures in technology inevitably hurt because of the related costs, making it too expensive to start again. 

Consider vendors who offer trials or customized demos that allow you to try out the technology first on a small pilot before you make the leap to purchase. 

5. Become a Learning Organization 

The only constant is change. Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen coined the term disruptive innovation, sometimes called creative destruction, in his book “The Innovator's Dilemma.” 

Adopt the disruptive innovation principal in your digital program: Constantly think about how to disrupt your market. What unexpected new content, new channels, new ways to personalize experiences or deliver value-add can your company offer? 

The technology you use must support this model of innovation, enabling you to quickly spin up new websites or applications, new campaigns, integrate new technologies to pull together information in new ways. 

Digital Transformation: That Delivers Today and Tomorrow

As you move through the stages of digital maturity, think about how you can accelerate your progress using these approaches. Some fit better in one stage than the other, but all help you advance your digital strategies towards your future goals while delivering in the present.