Part 2 of a 2 part series 


The right technology is key to enabling change, but ultimately, it’s the people and processes that will determine long-term success. In Part 1 of this blog series, I talked about a few “epic fails” of change management that I’ve seen with organizations undergoing digital transformation programs. But on the positive side, I’ve also worked with a lot of organizations that have undergone very successful digital transformations.

If we take technology off the table, and assume that organizations select the right enabling platform aligned to their business needs, what are these successful companies doing to ensure a digital transformation that the others are not? Here are nine specific actions that I’ve seen these organizations do:

Leverage Experts

Seek out a partner that has helped other companies through a digital transformation and can serve as a trusted advisor for you. It’s not just about guiding you through what works, it’s helping you to avoid things that don’t work. You don’t have to repeat costly mistakes. Fail #2.

Go Big or Go Home

Small incremental changes won’t bring about meaningful digital transformation. Often when I work with teams to reengineer a process, the tendency is to make minor adjustments to the existing process. While that approach can provide some efficiency improvements, the team is more likely to revert back to old habits over time. Companies that succeed at digital transformation don’t get stuck in “we’ve always done it this way” justifications. They look with fresh eyes at a new ideal process that supports the new business goals.

Involve Evangelists from the Start

Find the users that understand the big picture and grasp how changes to technology and process will impact the business in both positive and negative ways. These evangelists will help sell changes internally and can be key drivers of the transformation. They’ll also help you navigate the obstacles. The best evangelists are not always the most vocal users – they’re the ones most respected by their peers

Seek and Convert the Skeptics, Rather that Avoiding Them

Find out why the skeptics are skeptical. They might have valid concerns, and they might be the same concerns that others in the organization are thinking but not saying. When engaged early, the biggest skeptics at the beginning of a digital transformation initiative may eventually become the best evangelists.

If You Don’t Change the Simple Things, then Forget the Big Things

Make sure that users are applying the basics of a Content Management System (CMS), such as versioning, centralized storage, accessibility and permissions. This basic functionality has been around for years, but if it’s not implemented correctly, it can impact your ability to leverage the more advanced capabilities in an agile content workflow or publishing platform.

Establish governance and measure the outcomes

Ensure process changes “stick” through top down governance. Otherwise, the users will revert back to prior habits and processes. It’s important to define and document how you will measure the success of a new process, such as random sampling of outputs, to ensure that the initial rollout of a new publishing platform is the benchmark, and that the process only gets better from there. I’ve seen some companies go as far as creating internal Service Level Agreements (SLAs) to manage and monitor their performance and quality standards.

Don’t just train the technology, train the process, too

Create custom training that blends both your new process and the functionality of the content workflow or publishing platform that supports it. When organizations just focus on basic system user training, users may think that these new features are cool, but they don’t actually internalize the training and know how to incorporate the capabilities into the new process. I’m a big fan of classroom-led, interactive, hands-on training, as it provides a good feedback channel for capturing process improvements and choosing new capabilities.

Give a flashy big capability in the first release to get people excited

Include some “eye candy” in that first release of a new solution so users will want to try it out and embrace it. It may not be the top priority on a capabilities roadmap, but a new and exciting feature may lessen the resistance to change. For example, I’ve recommended my clients include a collaborative electronic review functionality in an early release of a new publishing platform. From a pure business priority perspective, it might make sense to defer this capability to a later release. But you might win the game if exciting features draw users to use a new platform and gets them engaged.


It’s important to have the right technology solution in place to deliver business value and support product innovation, but technology is not a magic pill. Ensure that your efforts focus on processes and people to sustain the capabilities enabled by that technology.


Author: Renee Swank

Renee Swank, Senior Director, has 25 years of experience in publishing, content, and knowledge management. She works with customers to define vision and drive business transformation to support new digital-first and content enrichment processes, as well as new ways to search, discover, and analyze content.
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