Jaime Nyberg
5 minute read

As we enter into 2020, Digital Transformation (DX) isn’t losing its importance as an integral part of the modern workplace. In fact, with 5G on the way and promises of internet speeds faster than ever before, the fact that DX spending is expected to reach $7.3 trillion over the next three years makes perfect sense.  

Unfortunately, entering into a digital strategy is more complex than some businesses, and top management, think. It is more than just a matter of transitioning files to the cloud and expecting your employees to figure it out. Instead, a comprehensive Digital Transformation program requires a thorough gap analysis of your current state and future state, as well as a business requirements plan, before you can even think about technology.

Even if you do engage in proper planning and analysis processes, there’s still no guarantee that your DX project will succeed - exemplified by the astonishing fact that the current failure rate of organisational Digital Transformation efforts sits almost at 80%!

While many attribute this to over-ambition and incorrect technology choice, our secret to ensuring smooth delivery organisation wide is a simple, yet crucial stage, situated in your implementation process - a Pilot program.

What is a Pilot?

A Pilot involves selecting a business unit or department to partake in a ‘trial’ of your organisation’s proposed solution before wide-scale implementation.  

A Pilot takes on a similar format to a ‘focus group’, whereby engaging with a smaller number of individuals, you can gain better insight into your proposed solution, allowing you to smooth out any kinks prior to full-scale implementation. A Pilot assists you in better understanding how the DX will complement your unique organisational needs by witnessing the solution come to fruition in ‘real-time’, while also providing one-on-one training.  

AGILE methodology is a pretty common buzzword thrown around every office these days, and the “Minimum Viable Product” (MVP) approach can be extremely powerful in realising business benefit. However, by drip feeding small bits of functionality to business users on a large-scale, rather than providing enhanced functionality to one pilot group, you can cause change fatigue on bigger rollouts.

Pilots provide immense business value, reserving the full deployment of resources as well as ensuring that Business as Usual (BaU) proceedings are not disrputed. This reduces overall risk of the project when it is finally put into action, as it is fine-tuned to meet your changing business requirements, and in our own experience, implementing a pilot has been shown to negate failure rates among the businesses we work with and improve the efficiency of the broader product rollout.

Who should be in my initial Pilot Group?

There are a number of considerations that should be taken into account before diving headfirst into a Pilot program.

While the list is non-exhaustive and differs dependent on every organisation, here are some general criteria that you may want to consider when selecting your Pilot Group:

  • The digital expertise of the individuals: How capable are they in using current technology in the workplace, and will they be able to adapt to new technologies?

  • Their current time and resource commitment: Is it possible to implement the solution without it impacting too heavily upon their current responsibilities? How much time will you require from key stakeholders in order to achieve the project goals?

  • What functionality do we want to roll out and how do we select a pilot group that will allow us to fully test the business benefit: Is their workload significant enough so that it may be considerably impacted by digitising certain procedures?

  • Business Process Isolation: Do they have minimal interaction with other business units, so that the Pilot does not impact substantially on their interaction with other employees? While the purpose of digital transformation is to connect organisations and encourage collaboration, the scope of the pilot should be contained to key stakeholders.

  • Willingness and ability to adapt to change: Are they open to embracing changes in commonplace procedures in their day-to-day working environment?

Adapting your criteria to meet your business needs and a detailed consideration of the appropriate business group will be critical to the success of the Pilot.

How can you get the most out of your Pilot?

Effective project and people management, constant monitoring and communication will be crucial to manage expectations and achieve strong results from your Pilot. We’ve created some tips that should be considered throughout the entire period to progress your DX effort. 

  • Discover the opportunities and challenges and determine how you can exploit these through the Pilot to generate tangible business outcomes. Creating a detailed benefits assessment to showcase the viability of the project may also assist in obtaining the green light for the large-scale project to be implemented.

  • Compile a robust communication plan that details reason for change and the benefits that will arise from enacting the change. People & Change Management and the culture you facilitate is absolutely crucial at this point, not only for the Pilot group itself, but also to other members of the organisation who may be impacted in the future.

  • Have a system in place to monitor and capture information about how well the program is working. A Pilot program is only successful if analytics, feedback and reporting are taken into consideration, allowing you to demonstrate concise quantitative results which speak to the innovativeness of your DX strategy.

If you are currently embarking on a digital transformation program, it would be worthwhile reviewing the pilot approach and considering whether it would fit your current projects.

Our Consultants are experts in defining and meeting business requirements, and we consistently take a ‘Pilot Group’ approach to help our clients successfully carry out their digital vision. Get in and contact today to find out more.

Jaime Nyberg

Jaime Nyberg

Jaime Nyberg
Jaime Nyberg is the Marketing Coordinator at Digital First. She has recently completed her Masters degree in Marketing Communications, bringing to the team a keen interest in digital and social media marketing.