Charting Your Transformation: Assess, Plan, Pilot, Review

When it comes to moving forward with your digital transformation, your first step should be an assessment of your needs and priorities to ensure that you have a well-thought-out strategy. The strategy is important because it means that you understand the value of the changes you are about to make.

 Today’s leaders need to step up by persuading their organizations that digital strategies may be tougher than other strategies, but they are potentially more rewarding — and well worth the bolder bets and cultural reforms required first to survive, and ultimately to thrive.
— McKinsey Quarterly, Oct. 2018, “Digital Strategy: The four fights you have to win” by Tanguy Catlin, Laura LaBerge and Shannon Verney.

It is a big step to move forward with changing manual processes and implementing automated workflows within your organizations, and it is imperative to understand the business gains of time, space and knowledge. As McKinsey notes, it is a “bold bet,” but — if implemented correctly — the gains are enormous.

 The good news is that the digital era, for all its stomach-churning speed and volatility, also serves up more information about the competitive environment than yesterday’s strategists could ever imagine.
— McKinsey Quarterly, Oct. 2018, “Digital Strategy: The four fights you have to win” by Tanguy Catlin, Laura LaBerge and Shannon Verney.

You can easily understand how an automated process versus a manual process can save your staff time, and how digitizing paper can save you on storage space and any money that you spend for off-site storage. But, understanding your gains in knowledge may not be that intuitive. When you have newly automated operations, you can start to measure efficiencies. This has significant implications for customer service. For instance, if you can process and approve mortgage applications faster, you can respond to customers more quickly and lock them in before they go to the competition. Your speed and enhanced customer experience will give you a competitive edge.

It can be a big step to start digitizing your operations and introducing automation, but with the knowledge of how your organization will be better off, you can understand the value and justify the bold move. Do you have to make everything happen all at once? We recommend a phased approach that allows for evaluation and correction — so moving forward into subsequent phases means you are smarter and can make adjustments to your implementation for a smoother outcome.

Let’s take a look at the value — of the process and the outcome.


Effective strategy requires focus, but responding to digital inevitably risks diffusion of effort, or “spreading the peanut butter too thinly.” Most companies we know are trying, and struggling, to do two things at once: to reinvent the core by digitizing and automating some of its key elements, for example, and to create innovative new digital businesses.
McKinsey Quarterly, Oct. 2018, “Digital Strategy: The four fights you have to win” by Tanguy Catlin, Laura LaBerge and Shannon Verney.

If you are thinly spreading the peanut butter (your resources), stop and make sure you plan to allocate the resources that you need and plan for a focused, phased approach. You need productive resources for this strategy to work (e.g., assign a project manager.)

Start where there will be the most impact to the business and from where you can learn the most.

            “ … figuring out if there is sufficient value to make it worthwhile to invest something … as part of a process of learning even more.”
McKinsey Quarterly, Oct. 2018, “Digital Strategy: The four fights you have to win” by Tanguy Catlin, Laura LaBerge and Shannon Verney.

Use an assessment to clearly identify what you need so you can prioritize and overcome any of the unknowns your organization might have. (McKinsey identifies these as the areas you will have to fight to get your project going as ignorance, fear, guesswork and diffusion).


  • Understand the information processes and the priorities with a business assessment
  • Plan for pilots and phased implementations
  • Time the deployments of the solutions so you can learn from each subsequent phase
  • Address the boldness of the transformation by balancing value against risk of inaction

When you are done, you will have a road map of what you need to do. You can plan the phases. You can allay fears and disclose the expectations. You can monitor the outcomes of each phase and make adjustments to the process for the next phase. We have found that digital transformation projects that begin with the assessment and deploy solutions via a phased approach, end up with the smoothest completion.

So, if you do not know how to start or where to start but know you need to start or are you are afraid to take the big step, going through the assessment provides the clarity that you need to help you get started on your digital transformation journey.

Joanne Novak is a program manager at Konica Minolta Business Solutions U.S.A., Inc. and is responsible for program development with the company’s Business Intelligence groups, including the Intelligent Information Management (IIM) practice. Her responsibilities are to build sales and customer-facing educational and thought leadership insights as well as strategic initiatives for IIM.