Almost all digital visionaries seek a trusted advisor to guide them on the journey. Early decisions are difficult, often requiring change management and new ways of thinking. It’s critical to set the roadmap and build the right foundation for digital transformation to get the program off to a good start. Having a trusted advisor reduces risks of common pitfalls, helps the visionaries within build necessary consensus and accelerates learnings.
With so many consultants claiming to be able to serve in this capacity, we have put together this article to help you be a more informed purchaser of digital transformation advisory services.
Here are some things to consider when making your selection:
1. Consultants First
Many organizations claim to offer digital transformation (DX) consulting; however, DX is such a broad term that this can mean many things. When you are looking to launch an organization wide DX program, point solutions are not going to be effective. The advisor you are looking for shouldn’t be selling one technology, or ads. Furthermore, a rigid prepacked service usually won’t suffice either. You want a true group of true consultants, that listen to what you have to say, learn about your business, and offer their knowledge and experience to help you succeed.
Do you know what the goals are of your digital transformation? If so, it is important that your advisory firm understands these goals, and that you are in alignment. If you cannot agree on the desired business outcomes, it’s probably time to start looking for a different partner that shares your vision. Often, it’s a joint effort to define the desired business outcomes. Your consultancy should be working with you to do so.
At the same time, you should be looking for an advisor that challenges you to think in new ways, presenting viewpoints that hadn’t yet been considered, that can lead to new ways of doing business. It may take some effort to help align different departments and factions within the company to align on these new ideas. Your ideal advisor will be uniquely qualified to initiating and accelerating consensus across the organization.
We recommend looking for consultancies that are solution agnostic. After all, you want solutions recommended because they are the best at meeting your goals, not just because these are technologies the firm has a relationship with and will make the highest margin selling you.
Large vs. Boutique Consultancy
While it may seem logical that since digital transformation is a huge effort, only a large consulting firm can meet your demands. These companies have likely completed more digital transformation projects than smaller firms, but each consultant only works on a slice of their narrow view of the project.
What is more important to consider than the total number of DX projects an organization has completed, is how many DX projects the team that will be assisting you has successfully executed.
It is not uncommon that a team assigned by a major consultancy to your project has never worked together before. This is a huge risk!
Relevant Experience Eliminates Risk. This is the greatest value an advisor provides.
When selecting a digital transformation advisory firm, experience is key. The number of successful previous digital transformations is the most basic fact to consider, but you should be looking for more than just the total number of projects completed.
Ask yourself and your prospective partner if they have previous experience with digital transformation projects in my industry, with the technologies we are interested in?
Do they have experience implementing similar processes to those we want to implement, and the business models we want to employ? If so, at what level? Your ideal advisor should have experience in documenting, designing, and digitizing processes like those you want to utilize.
A good consultant is an expert communicator. They need to be able to collaborate with C-Level executives to help conceptualize a plan and sell the vision. Additionally, they must be able to work with subject matter experts who are more hands on, and then convey the plan to builders, who turn ideas into something tangible.
Ability to Deal with Change Management
People genuinely don’t like change. This is hardwired into the old brain. The amygdala, the emotional control center, processes change with a fight or flight response. In the days of fighting lions and tigers, this protected us from danger. In today’s world, this means you will likely face pushback from your employees and management for the major changes you are expecting/proposing as part of the DX.
You need a partner that knows how to deal with this fear. It starts with building the business case to gain consensus, starting with upper management, that trickles down to all employees.
The ideal digital transformation consultancy will be able to provide experience and advice around how to implement change management, so the transition is as easy as possible. You don’t just want your teams to know that they have to change the way they work, you want them confident, and enthusiastic to do so. Good partners will help you lead the effort.
3. Proven Methodologies
You want to be sure your partner has proven processes, frameworks, and toolkits to ensure digital transformation best practices are followed, eliminating common pitfalls.
It may be tempting to favor large consulting with rigid processes and methodologies; however, no DX project is exactly the same. Sticking to a set process does not account for the nuances that make your company unique.
What you want to be looking for is a partner that has comprehensive yet flexible methodologies. You want an advisor that has a proven process of learning about your organization, your culture, and your customers, using their methodologies to help meet your specific goals.
When choosing your DX consulting partner, you should ask if they have artifacts that go beyond PowerPoints, like rubrics, assessments, and audits, enabling them to rapidly provide value during the discovery phase. Typically, good consultancies offer these pieces of content on their website or blog.
The Four P’s of DX
Digital Transformation is the re-alignment and investment in People, Processes, Platforms and Performance in support of existing and new business models to engage customers more effectively at every touchpoint with your brand. The best consultancies will be able to help shape all four of these areas: People, Processes, Platforms and Performance.
Your advisor’s previous clients should be eager to share positive experiences with the consultancy and received deliverables. They should share that they truly felt the advisor was a partner, transparent in communication, pricing, reporting, and tracking of hours.
4. Relentless Multi-Disciplinary Thinking
Digital transformation is expansive. Your partner needs a wide knowledge base. Successful projects require bringing strategists, programmers, marketers, creatives, analysts configuration specialists, process engineers, statisticians, and data scientists to the table.
You will require the right balance of strategic advisement as well as technical application to see your DX program successful. Often times, consultancies will come up with seemingly elegant solutions that the engineers can’t make a reality. Having the right team of experts ensures that the solution is documented in a way that can be built as it was envisioned.
The range of technologies involved with digital transformation is extensive to say the least: Web Analytics, CRM, Marketing Automation, Social Listening, Personalization Engines, Process Mapping, Robotic Process Automation, Chatbots, Tag Management, etc. You should be looking for a partner that has experience with the types of technologies you are looking to implement. Moreover, you need a firm that understands the entire technology landscape, and selects technologies that will work today, integrate with the rest of your tech-stack, and will meet tomorrow’s needs.
Human Centered Design
If exceptional customer experiences are your goal, then you should be looking for a consultancy that takes the approach of putting the customer first. Design thinking workshops are great tools for designing experiences that do just that. Look for a firm that has experience facilitating these workshops, both to find solutions and build necessary consensus.
Download our free Checklist for how to Choose a Digital Transformation Partner below.
Download Choosing a DX Advisor Checklist
Digital Transformation is our passion, our mission is to help you succeed.
If you are looking for a trusted digital transformation partner, we are happy to setup a call to learn more about your goals and discuss next steps for building a DX roadmap. Feel free to contact us to setup a meeting.