When you're bringing a new system into your company, it's easy to get bogged down with implementation plans, bean-counting and nerdy specifications.

Digital transformation is a necessary process for companies wanting to stay relevant and profitable in a competitive market. Doing away with outdated working processes and updating systems and technologies to maximise efficiency is likely at the top of many bosses' to-do lists for the year. The thing is, it can be a bit boring when you focus simply on the technical aspects.

The real reason why you'd bring in a new digital system is to make things easier and more efficient for your workforce. The secret behind a successful digital transformation is keeping that human focus - if your office is undergoing something of a tech revolution, it's important to look after the company's most important asset: your people. Here's how.

What is digital transformation?

Let's start by unpacking what 'digital transformation' really means.

Digital transformation is what many businesses are undergoing right now. It's about integrating new technologies and digital services into existing business practices to streamline and improve operations and add value to your end product. This might mean utilising new applications and online tools, or storing and recording data in new ways.

That's the digital side of things taken care of, but the key word here is 'transformation': introducing new ways of working to an existing team.

This is the tricky bit; anybody can pay for a new suite of digital tools and hire an IT guy to get them going. The key is in ensuring that your talent is on board and your company culture is ready to adapt: a successful digital transformation is all about change management.

Get your staff involved

Change is never easy. If you're trying to enact big changes in the office, you've got to make sure you bring everyone with you - not just the leadership team. While it's not practical to leave the big decisions up to the whole team, sometimes involving your staff in the process can result in a better outcome.

One study by Mckinsey found that while 84% of CEOs are committed to transformational change, only 45% of frontline employees can say the same thing. Obviously, bridging this gap is one of the primary obstacles when it comes to enacting a successful digital transformation at work.

There are a number of ways to do this. Ask for feedback on the changes you're making, and keep your staff abreast of what you're implementing and why. You can also incentivise staff by using internal marketing to sell the new tech to even your most reluctant employees.

Digital transformation can be hugely beneficial to a business, but only when every team member is fully behind the changes. Make sure the whole team understands why you're adopting new tech, and what its benefits are. We've written before about some ways you can incentivise change and make your digital transformation fun for everyone involved.

Photo by You X Ventures / Unsplash

Invest in training, and then more training

One of the biggest hurdles in going digital is ensuring you don't leave your less tech-savvy staff behind. This means plenty of training to keep all of your staff staff up to speed with the new tools and technology you're implementing.

Remember too that people learn in different ways and at different speeds. For some staff members, one demonstration session might be enough, while for others it may take multiple training days to get to grips with a single piece of new tech. Experiment with different training materials, including hands-on learning and online training courses, and give your staff the flexibility of choosing how they learn.

Learning how to utilise new tech to get the best results can take time, particularly for those team members who aren't naturally inclined towards technology. But investing in proper training is the only way to reap the benefits of any digital transformation.

It doesn't have to be all or nothing

It's also important to remember that going digital doesn't have to mean everything changes at once.

When you begin the process of digital transformation it's easy to get carried away, but it's crucial to be discerning about which technologies you adopt. For one, employees will find it easier to handle change one step at a time, and by being selective it's possible to pick and choose the best of the bunch.

Just because something is newer and shinier, it doesn't make it better (unless it's a particular staff leave planner). Digital transformation should be about simplifying your working processes, not making them more complicated. If you're in doubt about some of the changes you're considering, speak to frontline staff and get their opinions.

For example, if you're trying to choose a new online communication platform but you can't decide between Slack, Zoom, Teams, or something else, ask your employees for their opinions on what's needed. It can help you to make the right choice the first time around, or even sometimes to realise you might be better off sticking with what you've got for the moment.

Don't lose sight of what matters

When all is said and done, new systems are only useful if they make people's lives easier. Successful digital transformation is about making your business more efficient and your employees' workloads simpler; it should be a win-win proposition for everyone, not just management or shareholders.

Well executed digital transformation should lead to reduced workloads, better working practices, and increased value for customers. If your move to digital isn't ticking all these boxes, something isn't right.