Maintaining momentum is arguably one of the most important measures of leading a successful digital transformation. After all, if you can keep your stakeholders engaged, excited, and anxious in anticipation of the journey and all the value it will bring, you’re off to a great start. It’s not that easy though…one of the most common scenarios we walk into is an organization that is or has recently experienced the dreaded “Start-Stop-Revaluate” cycle with regards to their IT/OT initiatives. In this cycle, the basic purpose of the vision is questioned, extra time is spent re-educating stakeholders and momentum is lost.

Avoiding this cycle is key to any digital transformation effort, especially with the Covid-19 impact to the business landscape. It is now even more imperative that every investment dollar brings concrete returns. Through our experience, we’ve identified four keys to help keep the momentum high from day 1 through the first Go-Live and beyond.

Keep Focus on the Outcome

From the earliest moment, it is extremely important to understand what outcome your initiative is driving. Whether you’re improving decision making through enhanced data visibility, reducing changeover time by using advanced scheduling tools or something else, this needs to be captured, communicated and then communicated again… and again. It is also vital that this outcome be tied to real dollar impacts and avoid being challenged with the question of “that’s a nice idea, but so what?”.

When stakeholders understand the end state and financial impact, they’re more likely to ask, “when will we be able to lower unit labor cost by reducing our changeover time” as opposed to “why change what we already have?”. Reinforcing the outcome needs to be a regular habit; it should be covered at each steering and any project status meetings as it is the backbone for all strategy and technical decisions.

Deliver Value Early and Often

There are more chances for uncontrollable distractions to pop up if the cycle between establishing your next step on the road map to the first value delivery is longer. Businesses re-organize, key stakeholders change companies, priorities are reallocated, these are all real-life examples we’ve seen stop momentum dead in its tracks.

By incorporating a Quick-to-Value mindset into your strategy, the benefits of the initial phases support the continued momentum along the transformation road map. These initial value deliveries don’t need to be, and won’t likely be, revolutionary or transformational on their own. However, they do need to be quick wins, providing clear and beneficial impact to the end users who will soon come to rely on these new capabilities. Frequently, these initial phases simply involve doing more with what you already have – for instance, collecting existing process and performance data to then analyze and present it in a new and more valuable way for the shop floor operations personnel.

Validate Results Before Deploying

On the technical end, it is important that any data you display on the shop floor has been validated and confirmed to be accurate. In a conference room or lab setting, using test data, troubleshooting calculation errors etc., is permissible as those involved with system testing understand it is not meant to represent production yet.

However, once that system or dashboard is available to the production floor, the information needs to be accurate. If it is not, operations personnel will quickly stop paying attention, and you’ll be hard-pressed to regain their trust and engagement. Worse, you could become involved in a labor dispute as production workers often have a performance-based compensation component. Therefore, avoid showing incorrect production metrics on the floor. It is important that your deployment plans include a well thought-out approach to when and how any data, metrics, or charts are validated before being deployed onto the floor.

Prepare to Burn the Ships

When it comes to taking that step and incorporating new technology into the daily flow of your operations, you’ll be faced with challenges and push-back each time. Preparing for these challenges is essential as leaving easy fallback plans can definitely reverse the momentum you’ve worked so hard to build.

One key to pushing past Go-Live hurdles is to establish leadership, specifically operations leadership commitment where going back isn’t an option. With this clarity of direction established and supported, you’ll be able to leverage your technical resources to clear whatever roadblocks come up. Once the direction is set and commitment is made, it’s time to cut over to the new system, turn the old ones off and start capturing the value from the outcomes you identified earlier.

If you incorporate these four key elements into your digital transformation strategy, you’ll have put yourself on a great path to keeping the momentum high, and be well on the way to achieving the outcomes that will bring your company into the world of smart manufacturing.

If you would like more information about this topic or want to discuss your next digital project, contact us, and we would be happy to help.