In a world where digital innovation moves at a fast pace, companies often think that they do not have time to rebuild or create a new digital framework. They think, “We need to be agile and innovative. Governance just slows things down.” Or maybe, “We have too many problems with our organization, tools and processes.” And then there’s the always familiar, “We don´t want to reinvent the wheel.”
When an organization decides on the best way to scale and lead digital business transformation, it’s inevitable that different stakeholders with differing viewpoints will draw out the process. Each stakeholder may want to implement its own vision over the part of the website that it owns—some of them have good business arguments but their ideas are incongruent to an optimal digital transformation that focuses on aligned company visions and strategy.
A lack of clarity over who owns which decisions regarding content, design, information architecture, platforms, and more, can derail any digital initiative. Without that clarity around decision-making, the digital transformation journey ends up taking at twice as long and costs twice as much as originally anticipated.
Organizations need to streamline decision-making, to encourage collaboration, and ultimately to sustain their digital experience. They need a digital governance framework and roadmap that enables faster, smoother, and more effective workflows.
Digital development with no governance is bureaucratic and ineffective. Governance is an enabler. It allows organizations to minimize uncertainty in development by clearly establishing accountability and decision-making authority for all digital matters. This does not mean that the people who are not decision makers can’t provide input or offer new and innovative ideas. Rather, it means that after all the information is considered, and the organization clearly understands how decisions will be made.
Digital governance is a framework for establishing accountability, roles, decision-making, and change management authority for an organization’s digital presence. Having a well-designed digital governance framework minimizes effort and cost and ensures digital business maturity. The immediate focus should be on establishing governance and breaking down silos while aligning on the following standards:
- Strategy and governance
- Digital organization and culture
- Data and analytics
- Insights and engagement
Strategy and Foundation
Digital teams should first determine the extent of their digital maturity. Once determined, they need to define the digital business ambition and strategy for the company, ensuring alignment across the different areas.
- KPIs (Key Performance Indicators): These need to be defined and standardized where possible to support measurement and optimization and test and learn culture. Those insights need to be used for planning the roadmap, investments, experience, engagement, and operations.
- Decision framework: This aligns and validates the decision-making process. It helps to avoid the overwhelming feeling that can come with big choices and allows you to stay focused on the most important tasks.
- Digital strategy model: Organizational alignment and management tools. This builds unity between the company’s ultimate vision of success and the way leaders and individual contributors drive business results. It ensures the effectiveness of the transformation and roadmap to digital maturity.
Once these strategic blueprints have been created, leaders must then build a communication strategy to both educate and sell the digital transformation goals and approach to the team, and to the organization as a whole.
With the digital transformation strategy solidified, the time has come to implement the digital governance framework. Stakeholders should define short- and long-term action plans and activities needed to achieve the organization’s strategic objectives. At this point, the organization should have identified a digital committee—stakeholders in charge—and a program manager to create a project plan, share the vision, supply resources, and identify key success metrics. Here’s how:
- Design a plan. This can include resource planning and RACI definition, strategic alliances and partnerships that align with your transformation vision and increasing the speed and quality of your initiatives.
- Develop and employ policies that encourage the success of the strategy. These can include program management, delivery process, decision making process, vendor management, change management process, guidelines and playbook, app governance, and compliance and risk management.
- Set priorities and processes and automate as much as possible.
- Define and implement a change management strategy and plan.
- Establish governance around requests, platforms, investments, and priorities.
- Define the committee process, agenda, and cadence.
Enforcement and Monitoring Success
An organization’s digital governance framework journey does not end with implementation, and leaders should track and manage stakeholders’ use of the framework and measure KPIs through analytics. Building an effective enforcement program involves personnel management (with a mix of skills and expertise including engineering, legal, and administrative), staffing, training, vendor management, and good communication to identify risks.
As organizations expand their global omnichannel footprint and mature their roadmaps, digital governance becomes a key success factor. It is important to reduce debates and distractions regarding an organization’s digital presence by identifying a clear decision-making authority for digital strategy, digital policy, and digital standards. We recommend a digital committee to tackle the following responsibilities:
- Breaking down silos, fostering collaboration, streamlining efforts, minimizing duplication, and preventing team frustration
- Mitigating compliance, liability, and inconsistent use
- Improving brand experience
- Managing and reducing total cost of ownership with alignment of technology foundation, key features, and roadmap
- Empowering a faster go-to-market by streamlining support for standards, solutions, and common skillsets for the organization
- Maintaining an intake process to build, manage, and prioritize the backlog of solutions, platforms, and features
- Reducing rework and achieving more with focused priorities
By following these steps, organizations can achieve digital innovation faster, smoother and with greater effect.
Vanessa Rodríguez Franco
Analyst of Experience and Loyalty Solutions