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PHOTO: Logan Fisher

Time and time again we see organizations invest heavily in both the cloud and new technologies, yet fail to see significant increases in productivity. The phenomena is widely acknowledged, but we can’t put a finger on why it keeps happening.

Let’s explore some of the common stumbling blocks — and more importantly, ways to avoid them — and find ways to increase productivity, while also getting the return on investment (ROI) out of digital transformation.

Mistake #1: Bringing Old Processes to New Platforms

Organizations often think a new solution will help all of their problems through functionality alone. The thought process goes something like, “If we buy X, we will be more productive and get more done in less time!” However, once that new solution is adopted — whether its geared toward operations, productivity or security — it won't feel like their processes are working better or faster. In fact, it feels like things are moving slower because of the time spent learning how to use a new system.

Solution: Any new solution is going to be different than the old one. The reason why is important. Newer solutions are typically bringing more functionality or a different set of tools than those used in the past. As new solutions are adopted, it’s imperative to scope out their capabilities and understand how it will introduce new ways to accomplish business goals. 

There will almost always need to be a change (sometimes a significant change) in the way people work, but this can result in getting more done by condensing capabilities, reducing redundant or repeatable tasks, and consolidating application functionalities. Understanding what you’re getting with any new tool and thinking through how it can increase productivity for the greatest number of people will always be the best way to get the most bang for your solution buck.

Related Article: Digital Transformation: Why Now?

Mistake #2: No Change Management, Training or Implementation Strategy

Countless organizations develop a planning process, scope solution functionality and train their users on how to interact with the application. Yet, they still experience great pains with implementation. They find their users are upset with how hard it is to find information and get things done, the apparent lack of standards for how information is organized, and the lack of clarity around where they can find information or complete their tasks. When individuals don’t like new tools and start coming up with their own ad hoc processes, they push back on IT to keep doing things the old way. When their concerns aren’t addressed in a timely manner, organizations find people will circumvent the new app by paying for their own data storage and collaboration licenses on cloud platforms.

Solution: A one-time training on how to interact with an application isn't enough to help people make the most of new tools. Business leaders and stakeholders need to be constantly trained and retrained, not just on the new tools, but also to inform them of the frequent updates in the rapidly changing cloud-based application world we live in. Training for front line and information workers needs to be ongoing but contextual. People must know what’s in it for them and why they have to do things a certain way. 

Best practice suggests you not only plan for one contextual training, but develop a continuing training program. Organizations should establish a community for feedback and seek out and elevate power users to help others. More so, organizations and IT teams need to make an effort to make friends and win over stakeholders while doing all things possible to quantify and communicate successes in adoption and productivity.

There is a shift pushing against the idea that IT is an expense, but for many organizations it still takes a lot of effort to prove the idea that tech can add to productivity and deliver ROI. IT teams and stakeholders will need to remind and encourage themselves that with the right training methods and solutions, they absolutely can and will. Above all, teams should celebrate wins and reward their users for proper utilization. 

Related Article: Are Collaboration and Productivity at Odds in the Workplace?

Mistake #3: Implementations Halted Due to Lack of Discovery and Research

Once an implementation is under way, things can get mucky. Well beyond the normal scope of user error, applications sometimes don’t work as predicted, or worse, connections get broken or data gets lost. When business critical applications or workflows aren’t working, implementations essentially come to a halt. From there, we move into troubleshooting, at which point many organizations find they have to rebuild applications or even shift processes to new applications to get them working. Even if the first phases of implementation went well — and sometimes even after the organization thinks they are done — teams have to move back to square one for part, if not all, of their implementation planning to adapt.

Solution: Researching existing applications, data structure and content is one of the most important parts of the implementation process. Rocket ships are commonly used to visualize the productivity gains that can be made with new technologies — but think about the work, prep and meticulous planning that goes into a rocket launch. Digital transformation is not rocket science, but understanding applications, workflows and content before the launch is key. Are you certain where your secure data lies and where it should go? Can you rebuild and consolidate application functionality and workflows more easily than rebuilding them or integrating legacy applications? Chances are the challenges are not nearly as difficult to overcome as they were even just a few years ago. No implementation is perfect. There will be obstacles, however, the more research organizations do to avoid a catastrophe, the more they reduce the chance of things breaking in the future.

Related Article: The Clue to Your Digital Workplace Problems Lies in Your Employees' Workarounds

When Do You Ask for Help?

No one should undertake the journey to digital transformation alone. Organizations rarely have in-house staff with the experience of multiple digital transformation shifts under their belts. When looking for help, there are many solutions and services organizations to choose from. Some even combine services and applications, and a wealth of experience to share throughout the process. When vetting who you'll bring in as a partner, look for case studies, experience and the level of trust they carry in their respective industries.

Get to Planning

Yes, proper planning and implementation takes time. But rushed projects and break-fix approaches can result in massive slow-downs, opportunity costs that chip away at ROI and disrupt the collaborative environment every organization aspires to.