August 30, 2017 | Hiring Tips for Managers

Four P’s of Staffing a Digital Transformation Team

Welcome to our discussion on building and staffing your digital transformation team. Let’s start by aligning on a common definition of digital transformation. Being simple people, we like to define things simply. For the purposes of this post, we will simply define digital transformation as the application of current technologies to improve relationships with organizational stakeholders.

Understanding the Landscape of Transformation

By organizational stakeholders, we mean prospects, customers, employees, vendors, channel partners, and investors. By stakeholders, we mean everyone whose support is necessary for the organization to be successful. Our goal in this post is to provide pragmatic actionable information to help you build your team. We will share what we have learned from our real-world experiences in building and staffing digital teams involved in small-scale to large-scale transformations. Without knowing the landscape of a specific digital transformation initiative, it is nearly impossible to design and build a great transformation team. However, we are hopeful that this post will provide you with actionable information and tools to help you with your specific needs.

Below, we will discuss the four P’s of building your digital transformation team: the philosophy, the pillars, the process and the people necessary for successful digital transformation. Ready to go? Let’s dive in to P #1 – the Philosophy of Digital Transformation.

1. Philosophy

In digital transformation team building, there is a mentality that you will need in order to be successful. The mentality to be successful in transformation has four parts (yes, we are fond of “fours”): fast, light, courageous and all in.

The days of plodding are over. The book It’s Not the Big That Eat the Small…It’s the Fast That Eat the Slow: How to Use Speed as a Competitive Tool in Business had it right. Of course, that book was written 15 years ago when things moved a lot slower! In Tim Sheedy’s article In The Digital World, CIOs Need To Help The Business Move Faster, Sheedy puts much of the responsibility for speed on the shoulders of the CIO. He notes that it is the CIO’s responsibility to remove friction points from processes to allow the building of new capabilities fast. Technology cannot be a bottleneck in moving quickly to meet customer needs or in responding to competitive threats. It is important to note that Sheedy also mentions that speed cannot sacrifice quality and that we cannot shortcut testing. However, we add, in this vein, that the work needs to get done at a pace that allows time for proper testing. Organizations often dawdle so long that there is not enough time left for production and testing. We would also add that the entire leadership team must set and model the pace for change in the organization.

It helps to be fast if you are light. Ever watch two featherweights box and then watch two heavyweights box? Ever see an offensive lineman pick up a fumble and ramble down the field? Notice anything different than when the halfback carries the ball? It is just easier to be faster if you are lighter. In digital transformation, being “light” starts with the understanding that most touchdowns are scored by working the ball down the field methodically and not by depending on the big play. Whether you are working on incremental transformation or disruptive transformation, organizations find that small, fast successes are important. Focusing first on small goals, the proverbial low-hanging fruit, will allow an organization to set a transformational culture of success and confidence. When stakeholders see relatively quick and easy change for the better, confidence will grow and set the playing field for bigger successes in the future. We must also remember that though we need to be light and fast, we also must not forget about contingencies and scenario planning. For advice on being fast and light while still be focused on the future we recommend reading The Art of the Long View: Planning for the Future in an Uncertain World.

Muhammad Ali said, “He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.” Helen Keller said, “Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure.” Digital transformation is not a trend. Digital must become an organizational capability for organizations to prosper or even survive. An organization cannot be paralyzed by fear of failure. Giving your digital transformation team permission to fail is critical. While we want to get early, easy victories, we also need to know that a lot of things aren’t going to work right the first time. More importantly, people will be too afraid bring forward their most creative and innovative thinking if a permission to fail culture is not nurtured. For a good, short read on permission to fail, check out Harvard Business Review’s article Permission to Fail.

All In
All in is simple. It means “all in”. Everybody. All in. This is especially true of leadership. If we understand that digital transformation is not a trend then we must commit and not turn back. If we understand that digital must be a capability, then it cannot be something we try out or dabble in. One of the most common mistakes we see is that an organization hires a digital transformation leader and then leaves that person high and dry. Digital transformation must be funded financially and emotionally. This especially means that leaders must be actively supporting and encouraging those in ( the ditches of transformation. Leaders that will not strongly support the digital transformation process have no place in a transforming organization.

Next, let’s move on to the second “P” – the Pillars of Digital Transformation. The pillars are foundational pieces upon which success is built and sustained. The pillars needed for success are: stakeholder focus, outcomes, technology enablement, and analytics.

2. Pillars

Stakeholder Focus
Stakeholder focus deals with the “why.” This is the most important pillar. After all, we are not doing this for the pain, suffering, expense and hardship. We aren’t doing it because we have too much money or too much time on our hands. We aren’t doing it to buy the latest technology. We are doing it for the stakeholders – the ones whose support is necessary for the organization’s success. Make it easy for prospects to become customers and, given you have a relevant offering, you likely get a lot of customers. Make customers happy and make it easy for them to do business with you and you will likely have strong customer retention. Make it easy for employees to be productive and you will likely retain more great employees. Make it easy for channel partners to work with you, sell and support your products and you likely will have more productive partner. Make it easy for vendors to work with you and you likely will create efficiencies that will result in profit.

Outcomes deal with the “What”. Once we understand how we better serve and enable our stakeholders then we can establish, specifically, what we will accomplish. Outcomes don’t need a lot of explanation. I think we can agree we need outcomes with timelines and measures. The challenge is we often make assumptions and then put the “what” ahead of the “why.” The real key is to do a thorough stakeholder analysis before jumping into the “what.” Taking the time to do some stakeholder research will pay great benefits in getting to the right “whats.”

Technology Enablement
Technology Enablement deals with the “how.” We don’t spend astronomical amounts on ever-increasing short shelf-life technology because we want the latest, greatest things. The key add to technology here is “enablement.” We invest in technology to enable our stakeholder’s success. Technology provides the solution to get to the desired, stakeholder supporting, outcomes in digital transformation.

Analytics deals with the learning, innovation and continual improvement needed to better serve our stakeholders and to sustain competitive success. We are no longer in a world where we need to guess. We can continually monitor and assess the enablement of stakeholders and see what is working and what is not working. We can make small changes to test (remember how we discussed “light” above) and assess how things are working and continually improve. When we make big changes we can do so in an informed manner and then continually improve what we are doing. As long as we have access to the appropriate data (no small feat I know!), we can compile that data into information and analyze that information to get to the actionable insights that will drive innovation and competitive advantage.

Next, we move on to the third “P”: Process, meaning the process of building your digital transformation team. Hang on, it starts to get fun here!

3. Process

Gap Analysis
How can you go wrong with a gap analysis? A gap analysis simply helps us identify, for a particular topic, where we are, where we want to go and how we will get there. A gap analysis can be useful whether starting a new team, adding to or improving an existing team either in incremental or disruptive transformation. The secret sauce, in designing and building or remodeling a team, is making sure you have the proper talent areas in your gap analysis. In helping build teams, we have identified and described 25 talent areas needed for a significant transformation team. I imagine we could argue endlessly over those alterations or how we could tidy up the definitions. The goal of this gap analysis is to be a good starting point and not a perfect ending point. 

25 Talent Areas & Definitions

  1. Goals, Objectives, Measures Development: Determination of goals, objectives and measures that will determine success
  2. Research – Market research, competitive analysis and gap analysis
  3. Budget Planning – Creating and managing budgets with a focus on priority management
  4. Analytics and Optimization – Establishment of success metric AND ongoing optimization based on data and analytics
  5. Content Strategy – Planning, auditing, optimizing and creating content that that supports meaningful and interactive experiences across appropriate assets/channels
  6. Website – Optimization of a website as part of a marketing communications strategy
  7. Email/Test/Syndication – Planning, deployment and management of email/text/syndication as part of a marketing communications strategy
  8. Search/Traffic Generation – Planning, deployment and management of search/traffic generation as part of a marketing communications strategy
  9. Social Media -– Planning, deployment and management of social media as part of a marketing communications strategy
  10. Content Management – Optimization, deployment and management of content for digital assets
  11. User Research – Research to understand userbehaviors, needs, and motivations through observation techniques, task analysis, and other feedback methodologies
  12. Requirements Development – Gathering and translation of user needs documentation of what an asset must do
  13. User Experience – The use of usability, information architecture and user interface practices to create the desired experience/interaction for users
  14. User Interface – Hands-on creation of needed design assets to create a visually appealing experience for users
  15. Tools, Platforms and Technologies – The “toolbox” of tools, platforms and technologies used to deliver solutions
  16. Methodologies/Development – The creation, oversight and standardization of development practices as well as the implementation of the solutions
  17. Data – Organizing and structuring data in a manner that allows the enterprise to access and analyze data
  18. Q&A and Performance – The practices needed to ensure compliance, quality and performance
  19. Expectation Management – The setting and management of the expectations of all stakeholders
  20. Scope Management – Management of scope of project against plan and budget
  21. Tasks, Timelines and Deadlines – Management of tasks, timelines and deadlines
  22. Resource Planning – The planning and balancing of resources needed for successful delivery
  23. Build Trust – Building trust and relationship with stakeholders in a manner that enables productive collaboration
  24. Education – Educating stakeholders on what is possible
  25. Evangelism – Building of support and enthusiasm for all elements of the digital transformation process

Next, in our discussion of the final “P,” People, we provide you a template and a method on how to use the template to get to what you need on your team.


4. People

In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins states, “If we get the right people on the bus, the right people in the right seats, and the wrong people off the bus, then we’ll figure out how to take it someplace great.” Our mission in this section is to help you figure out what composes the right seats in which you need people to sit by providing you with our gap analysis template to use and help you get started designing or redesigning your team. 

Before you download the template we should note that it will not necessarily help you determine how many of a particular role you will need. For instance, if the transformation includes a mass content migration then you may need multiple web content managers. While the template will help you determine roles, it will not help you determine scale.

The way decisions are made will also greatly impact your time. If there is a lot of “selling up” and evangelizing up, or through committees in the organization, then the leader of the team will likely have their hands full and they will need to give away responsibilities. For instance, the UX leads may have to be the ones evangelizing in the business units.

Marketing and Product
Marketing and product functions aren’t addressed in the template. We are assuming the marketing and product teams will be stakeholders in the process and partner with the core transformation team.

Not as easy we make it out to be!

While we present an easy process in using the gap analysis, we understand that it will likely take lots of conversations with lots of stakeholders in order to complete. You may need to alter the template to fit your specific needs.

Using the Gap Analysis
You are well on your way. The next step is to download our gap analysis template or create one from the talent areas listed last week. Use the template to determine which talents you  have on the team and which talent areas you need on your team. If you have the talent on your team put a check mark under that talent area. If you do not have talent in a certain area leave the box blank.

Next, go back through all the blank areas and start determining which talent areas could go together in a role. For instance, if Goals, Objective and Measures, Budget Planning, Trust Building, Education and Evangelism can all be in one role then simply put a “1” in each box. That will be your first role – someone that can take care of the goals, objectives and measures, budget planning, trust building, education and evangelism.

Continue through the gap analysis grouping together the talent areas and creating the roles you need on your team. When you are done, you should have the basic roles outlined for your transformation team. You can transfer the information for each role into another document to create basic job descriptions.

Final Thoughts

For more information regarding digital transformation, check out our Thought Leadership articles, or contact us to discuss your digital marketing hiring and recruiting challenges.

Posted by Mark Whitman

Mark Whitman is the founder of TeamBuilder Search. Mark’s mission is to help clients recruit the top five percent of digital marketing executives, taking great satisfaction in helping clients out-recruit their competition. In the process of fulfilling his mission, he takes great care to help digital marketing leaders elevate their careers. People say Mark owns a recruiting and staffing company. He says he owns a life improvement company. To learn more about Mark visit our Leadership page.
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