Digital transformation is fuelling the need for last mile implementation
Most companies today are heavily invested in digital transformation projects – evolving systems, technology, applications and e-commerce to meet the digital needs of their customers. This investment is deemed necessary to keep up with the internet revolution, however it does not come cheap. The most grounded companies understand that to achieve the expected returns from their substantial digital investment, getting the human factor right is equally if not more important than delivering the technology.
Having said that, many companies still under-invest in “last mile implementation”.
Often the final phase of a digital transformation project is when the new technology or application is finally delivered and handed over to the business unit, who are then expected to deliver the ROI. Project teams are so focused on delivering a successful handover that little thought is given to “last mile implementation” – those activities occurring in the months immediately following delivery that are essential to bedding in the new technology and delivering the expected outcomes. This becomes the role of users and supporting operations teams, and unless managed properly can have a significant impact on the return on investment (ROI). If the users don’t buy into the changes, the expected returns can be hard to come by. If managed carefully, returns will come thick and fast. Last mile implementation is therefore critical to the success of any transformational project and should be awarded the same detailed level of planning and management as the delivery of the technology itself.
What last mile implementation activities are critical to success?
Ongoing communications - Communicating successful change throughout the organisation on an ongoing basis so the whole company are bought in, from the top down and everybody feels responsible for making it work. We see plenty of examples of internal communications stopping once the technology has been delivered & the project management team have disbanded. People need to know what the successes are and what are the issues if they are to contribute to making it a work.
Best practice skills transfer - Training, coaching & managing best practice behaviours at all levels, from users to managers to ensure the new technology is being utilised to its maximum potential. Rapidly building the required skills and knowhow will maximise benefits earlier rather than later.
Reporting with a punch - Implementing a practical reporting infrastructure to measure, analyse and produce relevant performance data to fuel the continuous improvement programme. Quite often a major selling point for system development is the vast amount of data that can be produced to improve productivity. Unfortunately, so much data is collected there simply isn’t the manpower to make heads or tails of it. Understanding what data is important to drive your business forward and prioritising this in the reporting structure allows you to focus resources on identifying critical areas of underperformance that lead to performance improvement actions, as well as areas of best practice performance that lead to ongoing skills transfer.
Operational excellence – Establishing efficient processes and procedures that are executed consistently throughout the organisation. Providing the necessary framework for operational excellence to become a reality. Continually optimising these procedures by listening to feedback from managers and team leaders to ensure their processes and activities are run efficiently and effectively day in day out.
Reward & recognition - Motivating users to develop the necessary digital skills to become expert operators of the new technology. Adapting reward schemes to incentivise users to follow the best practice procedures and behaviours will improve the effectiveness of the technology and encourage operational excellence throughout the organisation. Recognising top players will motivate them to spread best practice.
Continuous Improvement – Most important of all is implementing a continuous improvement programme from the top down, that systematically & repeatedly measures, analyses, reports, actions and delivers tangible performance improvement at all levels throughout the organisation, ensuring the sharing of best practice and learning from mistakes on a continuous basis.
In conclusion, last mile implementation is critical to the success of any digital transformation project and is achieved through the careful planning and coordination of a set of critical activities deemed necessary for post launch success. Do not underestimate the importance of this!
If you would like to discuss how we could help with last mile implementation of your own transformation projects, contact Roger Frost at Talmix for further information.