Something that is overlooked in the earliest and more important stage of planning for a digital business transformation is acquiring an independent consultant or firm that can advise companies on the prep work needed in getting ready for the digital transformation in and of itself.

Think about it in simple terms such as when trying to lose weight. Those individuals that get advice specifically tailored for them by a nutritionist or a personal trainer, who have their best interests in mind, gives them an advantage. Not to mention saving precious time and money in their pursuit. Why would this not be the case for something as large-scaled as your upcoming program will be?

“It is not enough for a professional to be right: An advisor’s job is to be helpful.”

― David H. Maister

Using a small independent partner to assist you as YOUR ADVOCATE before the start of and through your digital transformation is not just a good idea, it’s a proven resource in cost containment and resource allocation. This could save you millions in potential cost overruns or misspent capital.

Here are a few reasons why:

One of the things that I have learned over the years is that the critical path of large-scale transformation initiatives usually either run through the data migration track, testing or organizational transformation track (and it is usually the latter). The business process, configuration, enhancements, infrastructure, integrations and other technology components for which you usually hire your system integrator’s expertise to perform are traditionally not the “long pole in the tent” that extends the project timeline. It is good to have an advisor to help you focus on the big rocks that are on your critical path first and help you to build your initial planning around these big rocks before going into the digital transformation sales cycle. It will give you a better understanding and education of reality prior to seeing your vendor’s best-case scenario sales pitches.

Additionally, there is still an ongoing debate within our industry as to the value of documenting your current state processes. Those against documenting current-state processes argue that if you start with your system integrator’s leading practices and perform a gap analysis against your current state processes you can just start there and save time and money. It is a valid argument and I have seen that work from a technology perspective. The downside of this approach is the impact it can have on your organization’s transformation effort. Without knowing your current state and being able to properly articulate your current state, how can you effectively help your organization transform from its current state to your future state?

If you agree with the latter approach of performing current state mapping, then an independent consulting company who has some specialization in business process definition and organizational transformation may be a lower cost alternative to aid in your overall readiness assessment for your digital transformation. It is a way to help get your ducks in a row, formally documenting what you do today, as well as envisioning what you want to be tomorrow before software and solution integrator selection. This helps formulate your overall game plan prior to bringing in your Solution Integrator to do the heavy lifting (and usually heavier billing). This will add to the overall timeline before your digital transformation will complete, however:

The time will be cheaper (since there are much fewer resources involved) AND it will provide you much greater clarity of what you want to be and provide you more time to properly prepare for the focused execution of your digital transformation which in the long run will actually save you more money.

Generally speaking, having that independent partner there to help you get the ball rolling, advise you through the journey, giving essential knowledge transfer of what they believe it will really take to implement YOUR program, well before the Systems Integrators try to come in and sell you on their services will pay dividends in the end.

Let me know your thoughts and experiences here….I welcome your feedback.