This article first appeared in the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce 'Business Comment Magazine', in April 2021
Bad Dinosaur is an Edinburgh-based app development agency, creating amazing digital products for startups and SMEs, from original concepts to digital transformation projects, and everything in between. Since founding the agency in 2013, Managing Director Kyle Whittington and his team have delivered countless digital transformation projects. Here, he shares his advice for SMEs who are looking to embark on a digital transformation journey of their own:
Digital transformation often conjures images of management consultants, 18-month-long projects, hugely ambitious scopes of work, multi-million pound budgets, and sterile blue-tinted stock photography. It doesn’t have to be like that.
Whatever the size of your business, the industry you’re in, or the scope of your budget, it’s safe to say that there is something in your processes that can be improved with a digital transformation project.
If you don’t know how things currently work in your business, you won’t be able to identify what area needs help. It’ll also make it a lot harder to assess success, and it’ll be a nightmare for anyone external that’s involved in the digital transformation project.
Map out the entirety of the process in a flow chart, with steps, outcomes, RACIs, methods - absolutely everything. Put it this way: if the team responsible for this process were in a winning lotto syndicate, then you should have enough detail to be able to keep the show on the road.
If you were granted funding tomorrow to digitally transform one facet of your business, how would you choose? We’re all guilty of letting our biases cloud our judgement, so it’s crucial that you take time to analyse what really matters most.
Ask yourself what area is most at risk if not addressed, what talent exists in each area that could support a change project, what change would have the greatest ROI, short- and long-term. A good rule of thumb is to plug any gaps that are causing pain or losing you money, and then look at areas that you can improve.
Taking an agile approach to building a digital product is no longer an option, it’s an imperative. At Bad Dinosaur we’ve turned down plenty of full scale projects, encouraging clients instead to start with a minimum viable product (MVP), test it out, and then follow a cycle of designing, building, testing, releasing, reviewing, and optimising.
There are loads of benefits to working this way, including: letting you test viability before committing too much budget, the option to change course without severe consequences, the opportunity to capture (and act upon) end-user feedback throughout, and helping you get senior stakeholder buy-in.
This is so important. You’re going to be spending a lot of time with your digital transformation partners - be they software vendors, business consultants, or app development teams like Bad Dinosaur.
Think about the nature of the relationship you want to build with your partners and factor that into your search criteria - it’s just as important as other factors like price and tech stack.
We’ve seen brilliant projects flop because of breakdowns in communication with end-users. Do everything you can to make the change as manageable and painless for colleagues, but nonetheless be prepared for push-back. Accept that change is difficult for anyone to navigate, regardless of how insistent they are about being embracers of change.
Communication is key at every stage of the process, so make sure that you have a workstream allocated to managing regular updates for anyone who will be impacted by the project. Better still, get them involved in the process by asking for input and feedback throughout the journey.
Don’t stop once you’ve implemented your digital transformation project. Dedicate some time for a post-implementation review to find out what worked, and what didn’t. Use that feedback to shape your digital transformation roadmap, and start getting excited about the next project!
If you're interested in digitally transforming your business get in touch with the team at Bad Dinosaur about a discovery workshop.