- Digital transformation, business analysis and the discovery phase
- How to apply the discovery phase for a successful digital transformation
There is no denying the Internet age has brought groundbreaking social, cultural, technological and business changes to our lives. Those companies that underwent a digital transformation early often gained the upper hand against their competition, but this does not mean it’s too late to do it now. On the contrary, nowadays, the mechanisms for undergoing this change have been perfected over the years, and digital transformation is no longer an option – it’s a necessity. One of the most useful tools for this cause is the discovery phase, and today we outline how this stage contributes to successful digital transformations.
Digital transformation, business analysis and the discovery phase
To clarify terminology, let’s start with a few definitions.
How we understand digital transformation
Generally speaking, digital transformation is the use of digital technologies in order to conduct the digitization of analog products, services, processes or other operations. The goal is to increase the value of an organization through innovation, modernization, invention, user experience and effectiveness. As a result, the newly modernized company levels the playing field with its competition that has already undergone this change, or gains the upper hand when compared to companies that still rely on more traditional, offline strategies.
What is a business analysis
The term is used both for the name of the discipline as well as the process of business analysis. In the article, we focus on the latter understanding. A business analysis is a thorough investigation of a company conducted in order to optimize its operation, reduce costs, mitigate risks and facilitate work between its different departments. It covers different aspects, including data analysis, process optimization, changes in company organization, policy and strategy, and more.
Discovery phase definition
At its core, the discovery stage is one of the first phases when beginning a new project. During discovery meetings, specialists from different branches gather alongside stakeholders and a business analyst to brainstorm the new project. The focus is on data analysis, scoping, establishing clear milestones and end goals, estimating the costs and timeframe, pointing out potential risks, finding opportunities for optimization and – most of all – keeping everyone well informed. When conducted correctly, the discovery phase leads to improved solutions, the fulfillment of user and business expectations, cost reduction and overall good workflow. Read our previous articles for more information on the discovery phase.
How to apply the discovery phase for a successful digital transformation
Organize a discovery phase to bring your digital transformation to the next level. Below are the key factors you should focus on.
Make collaboration easy
Behind every successful discovery phase, there is a group of talented people with different skills and backgrounds. Having representatives of different branches alongside stakeholders and a business analyst ensures that every party involved is on the same page regarding the digital transformation roadmap. This helps avoid future misunderstandings when project work begins, and grants departments basic knowledge of what the other teams should be currently working on.
Establish a clear end goal
“If you don’t know where you’re going, anywhere will get you there” is the famous quote from Alice in Wonderland. Without a clear destination, your road will be full of risks and pitfalls, and it’s no different with business endeavors. The discovery phase should set up a clear roadmap, with milestones and end goals for the team to know, understand and approve. This digital strategy roadmap will serve as the base reference point throughout project work. At this point, it is also vital to answer the question – how does success look like for this particular digital transformation/business endeavor?
Review your current business model
It is imperative to investigate how your business has been operating until now. By reviewing your current business model with the help of a business analyst, you will be able to identify the weaker points of your processes, which is the first step to their optimization, better workflow and cost reduction. See how your business is running, how it earns money, and where these funds go. Perhaps there are far more effective ways to manage your resources that require only minor tweaking of your processes.
Identify key issues and prioritize them
Draw conclusions from the investigation stage and identify key problems in your business. With the help of the BA, establish priority levels for each to have a clear path for improvement. Very often an improvement is made not by adding something to the business, but by optimizing areas that are operating inefficiently. A well-prepared digital transformation strategy will allow for the automation of at least some processes, often facilitating the operations of multiple company branches.
Discover the who, what, when, where, why and how of realizing your vision
It’s important to ask the right questions, and the 5 “Ws” and “how” are a very good way to start, not just in terms of digital transformation or project work. What is going to be conducted? Why should we conduct these actions? Who is going to work on specific tasks? When is the deadline for specific milestones? How are we going to achieve our objectives? – all with reference to the digital transformation initiative.
Investigate the market
Do not start out your digital transformation “deaf and blind”. A market analysis should be a part of the discovery phase. Observe your operational environment, investigate your competition and how they conducted their transformation. Perhaps there is something to learn from their actions and to improve on their results to gain an edge.
Market research is just one aspect of data analysis. It is important to conduct interviews with different parties involved. Target staff responsible for specific processes, but carry out interviews with stakeholders as well. Conduct whiteboarding and brainstorming sessions during the discovery phase. The better the research the better the results of the digital transformation.
Every action will use up your resources – time, funds and manpower. It is important to create estimates for all of these elements early to set realistic expectations and not to overextend. You have to be sure that the great concept you brainstormed during the discovery phase is possible to deliver with the resources at your disposal.
Digital transformations are a huge step forward. If executed with care, they breathe new life into an otherwise stagnant business. The discovery phase significantly contributes to a successful digital transformation and sets a course for the entire business venture.
If you are looking for a talented team or the help of a business analyst, do not hesitate to contact us using your preferred method.