3 ways finance tech leaders can approach digital transformation in the new year

Jen McFarland, MPA
by Jen McFarland, MPA LinkedIn
Dec 15, 2020 9:00:00 AM

About a month ago, Ordway reached out to me to share the following post with their audience. They had seen my work at Women Conquer Business helping organizations adapt and change in an age of disruption, and wanted to share this resource with you all as we approach 2021. 

Few years have proven more game-changing than 2020. Nothing has pushed business leaders and entrepreneurs to invest in digital transformation solutions like the pandemic. As we look to forecast into next year (and beyond), it's critical to set strategic priorities before engaging in transformation initiatives.

Since COVID-19, 50% of consumers are buying the majority of their items online. And over 5 million people are now working from home. 

Accelerating your digital initiatives represents a clear path to adjusting to this new digital paradigm. 

Learn the top three ways to approach your company's digital transformation to ensure operational efficiency and cross-functional adoption.

1. Focus on business operational efficiency

Business transformation requires making fundamental changes in how your organization runs. The pandemic and remote work have pushed some aspects of operational efficiency to the forefront. 

You've wrestled with significant, rapid change this year. These adjustments have not come easy. And they've required agile leadership on your part.

Don’t stop now.

When it comes to business transformation, don’t leave any rock unturned. It's critical to have a deep understanding of what's working (and what's not) operationally. 

Ask probing questions until you get to the root causes of operational inefficiencies. The questions you’re afraid to ask are the exact questions you need to ask.

Increased communication will give you momentum toward proactive change and client retention rather than operating from a place of reactivity. 

To capitalize on the momentum, follow a holistic, cross-functional approach. 

2. Approach digital transformation holistically 

How do you approach digital transformation holistically? Consider operations with several touchpoints. Then, involve all the affected departments in discussing possible business process improvements. 

Analyze business processes end-to-end and consider who (or what) the current process leaves behind. Discovering missed opportunities prevents the organization from leaking money.

For example, one of the easiest — and smartest — places to start is increasing the automation of your company's revenue and billing processes

Money is the backbone of any business. 

Optimizing your financial backend may not feel as sexy as that marketing campaign you're considering. Yet, nothing feels as good as money in the bank, as quickly as possible. 

Besides, an otherwise successful marketing campaign will fail if you don't have the operations to deliver on your promises. 

Finance leader writing at desk

Look beyond automation. Nearly 60% of consumers expect personalization and human connection even if there's no physical storefront. 

The most successful digital transformations pair effective systems with rock-solid business operations to support the organizational change brought on by your initiative. 

Let's face it. Operational efficiency gives your company more time to be human.

In other words, it should take into consideration more than tech. Communication doesn't end at addressing the company's core needs. It's essential to engage your organization cross-functionally throughout planning and implementation. 

3. Plan and implement cross-functionally

One of the biggest mistakes a company can make is focusing on the bells-and-whistles rather than the day-to-day functionality. Snazzy sales presentations can make anything look like a fabulous solution. 

System selection must be effective and practical. 

If that sounds boring, consider the alternative: sinking thousands of dollars into a system with inadequate new functionality, a poor overall functional fit, and poor usability. 

Talk to front line staff, customers, vendors — anyone directly affected by your transformation effort — throughout planning and implementation.

Clearly defining current problems, future goals, and expected outcomes through an inclusive, cross-functional approach helps tech leaders gain multi-level, multi-functional buy-in throughout an organization. 

Smart leaders adjust priorities to address emergent issues. 

Static decisions made in a vacuum lead directly to failure. In short, get to the nuts and bolts of what you need today with an eye toward the future. 

Remain agile, flexible, and inclusive throughout your planning and implementation, and you will find success even during these uncertain times. 

About the Author:

Jen is the Founder of Women Conquer Business, a boutique consulting firm specializing in increasing business efficiency through business process improvement. She's helped organizations reduce data entry by 98%, increased web traffic by 250%, and optimized tax collection systems resulting in millions of additional revenue. She's a frequent writer for The Startup and guest speaker at business events across the country.

Topics: operations, performance economy, finance leaders, workflow automation


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