Digital transformation within SMEs

The 5 essential steps for every entrepreneur who wants to do it right from the start

82.6% of SMEs think digitisation is (very) important - the vast majority! But how exactly are you going to do this? Which steps do you have to take to ensure that this goes right from the start?

In the previous blog, we already explained why it is so important for SMEs that digitisation is done properly the first time. Today we take you through the steps you should definitely take.

Step 1: From analysis of your current situation to a solid IT master plan

In the first step, you map out how digitally ‘mature’ your organisation is at the moment and what the capacity of your organisation is to be able to change successfully. As an entrepreneur you often know that digitisation is necessary; you have done research, read articles and you know that steps need to be taken to remain successful and relevant for your clients. Good start! But you should definitely ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you ready to transform in the IT field?
  • What is the state of your existing IT infrastructure?
  • Is it possible to further develop the existing IT infrastructure?
  • Where are the challenges? For example, are they about improving the customer experience or do you need to start building data?

A good inventory is necessary to kickstart the digital transformation and it is the first step that is necessary to ensure that everything really goes well from the start. In this phase, you will find out whether there are any restrictions that need to be resolved before you actually start developing new digital products and services.

Now that you have established your business, processes, plans, dreams and visions for IT, it is time for the IT master plan. Here we are going to write down what needs to be done. The master plan starts with the now. In order to work towards what things should look like in the future, it is of course important that the current situation is first mapped out. This is done on two levels: Business Architecture and IT Architecture. We will tell you more about this in our whitepaper.

Together with you, we paint a clear picture of where your organisation stands, what the challenges are and where it could grow in this phase. Together with a clear plan of action, this provides the tools to start the actual digitisation. We will not move on to the next step until this is fully understood.

An example. You have a successful store and want to digitise it into a web-shop. Currently, people come to your store, buy the products and pay. In e-commerce, it is more or less the same steps, but online. However, online there are other things to consider than when you only sell the products physically. First of all, you obviously need an e-commerce website, but behind that lies a whole system that controls delivery, payment and stock management. So, you have to think carefully about what exactly you want to achieve with your web-shop, how you are going to set it up and - very important - whether your current IT infrastructure is ready for this change. Good preparation, including an IT master plan, are essential in this phase.

Step 2: Design thinking phase

In order to do the digitisation right from the start, we will start with a so-called Design and Discovery process after the first phase, before we start with the actual development of digital products. Too often clients come to us with a question that has not been validated. Usually, these kinds of questions come from within the organisation and little or no stock has been taken of the needs of the final users of the products. The studies, interviews with customers, employees and stakeholders and the prototype validation process in this phase allow us to define the true potential of a digital solution. In this way we can lay the foundation for a transformation/digitisation, which is of great added value for the ultimate internal or external user.

So, the creative development process starts here. What the end product will look like depends on what the end user wants in combination with your wishes.

Step 3: Build and validate a prototype

The ultimate goal of the Design & Discovery phase is to arrive at a validated prototype, which will form the basis for the cost and technique estimate of the construction phase. In this phase we will show a prototype to the user group and stakeholders and we will validate the riskiest assumptions. We test both usability (user-friendliness) and desirability. This should show whether the current developed idea is appealing, easy to use and really adds value for the target group. The target group is given the opportunity to click through the product and thereby receives specific questions about the operation of the product. We re-implement the comments and remarks in order to define the final solution.

Step 4: Building the desired product

In the previous phases we looked at the technical and financial feasibility of the solution. Now we have arrived at the actual realisation of the validated digital solution!
We always advise our clients to develop products according to the SCRUM method. This enables you as a company to develop the right products flexibly (‘agile’). SCRUM is an Agile framework and can be used to develop software in an effective, flexible way in a team. What are the benefits of SCRUM?

  • It increases the effectiveness of the team.
  • As a client, you are an important part of this team.
  • It offers an optimal Return On Investment (ROI).
  • It ensures that you can deliver a piece of working software every 2 weeks.
  • It ensures that you have insight into the progress of the project.
  • It ensures that you only build what you need.

If you want to properly shape your transformation from the start, the above method of development is essential!

Step 5: Devise and realise the required further development

The product is finished! But development does not stop here. After all, together we have to think carefully about hosting, SLAs, maintenance and further development. We have of course already included this in the first phases, but now it is important to actually flesh this out. Many entrepreneurs forget to estimate these kinds of costs and are then faced with unexpected surprises. Research and our experience show that an organisation should reserve about 15% of the initial value of the developed product for maintenance. For the further IT development, the percentage that the business owner must take into account is between 4 and 8% of the annual turnover. We are happy to guide and help you in this. In doing so, we build a sustainable product that matches your challenge, the wishes of your target group and the intended budget. We will also soon be publishing a whitepaper specifically about IT investments within SMEs.

Yes, let that digital transformation begin!

Are you ready to start the digital transformation? We are happy to check with you whether your organisation is ready to transform and if so, how we will do that exactly. In a ‘quick scan’ we look at who you are, what your goal is, what you need to take into account and what challenges you face. We do a short preliminary investigation and tell you how you are doing during the interview. The result? After the 30-minute conversation, you will know whether you are ‘digital transformation ready’. Contact us to schedule your non-binding meeting.

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