Why is Digitisation & Digital Transformation a Marathon?

Digitalisation - Publications By: Dr. Harald Dreher - Mar 31, 2021

Benefit from 3 decades of experience in IT strategy, digitalisation, ERP consulting and process optimisation...

Anyone who has ever tried to compete can confirm that preparation is half the battle. Whether you want to run a short 10 km race, a Half Marathon or a full Marathon, it is important to find your pace.

Only with the correct planning and pace can you maintain your speed, stride-length and breathing all in sync and go on to complete the distance ...

Digital Transformation is a Marathon

Anyone who has ever tried to compete can confirm that preparation is half the battle. Whether you want to run a short 10 km race, a Half Marathon or a full Marathon, it is important to find your pace.

Only with the correct planning and pace can you maintain your speed, stride-length and breathing all in sync and go on to complete the distance ...


Digitisation & Digital Transformation - Why is it a Long-Haul Project?

Not many people can sustain a race at full speed for the whole distance. Sprinters and athletes who specialise in Endurance races train very differently and their abilities are vastly different. For a hundred metres, the Sprinter is probably not running half or full marathon distances.

However, it is the case that in sprints the results are visible more quickly than in a marathon, sprint results are almost immediate. In distance races the finish line is a little further away and only those who persevere reach the finish line. 

The same can be said when looking for a Digitalisation & Digital Transformation initiative. Many things may go wrong, but if a few essential points are taken into account and the preparations made, it is possible to achieve a successful digitisation initiative and reach that finish line!


The "Right Now" Mindset is the Downfall For a Digitalisation & Digital Transformation Project.

This attitude of "fast, short term, quick wins" and many similar approaches is an increasing part of projects or change management initiatives. The time pressure under which projects should or must be completed is increasing more and more. The nervousness of those responsible and those involved increases if I.T. or ERP projects are not completed quickly. However, this often leads to poorly executed requirement profiles or implementation of tasks. This is only because the goal line is to be reached quickly.


Digitisation & Digital Transformation is Marathon Distance ...

Digital transformation is a big term for an initially challenging comprehensive outcome. By its very nature, digitisation and digital transformation likes to be described as "complex, affecting all business areas, profound and impactful". (As implementation consultants, we deliberately refrain from using the extensive vocabulary from marketing to describe a digitisation project at this point).
But can these terms be reconciled with or are they linked to quick and easy solutions or processes?
Digitisation and digital transformation, when done correctly, is a complete change of throughput processes in an organisation. This change does not take place vertically within the division, but horizontally between the divisions.

This is what makes it so difficult. The influences on daily processes are clearly noticeable, various new IT tools and techniques are used and change more than is apparent at the first quick glance. This, of course, also makes enormous process improvements and process time reductions possible.
Partial results and the overall result of a company can be noticeably improved. Throughput times can be significantly reduced and thus an important competitive advantage can be realised.


Training for Your Digitalisation & Digital Transformation is Mandatory

Just as you would prepare for a marathon, the digital transformation must first be properly planned. The combination of in-house and external know how repeatedly produces the best results, through the melding of internal processes and external project and process knowledge.

'If you were training for a Marathon, would you really seek advice from someone who wasn't a Runner?'

That is why it also makes sense (or it can make sense for you) to strengthen yourself with external knowledge, because good experts in digitalisation or ERP consultants have this knowledge, both in the possibilities and in the background to explain why certain process models are successful or not. Experience in implementation is an important and necessary component of all digital transformation projects.

Without systematic change management and without structured training and support for the employees concerned, a digitalisation project will not achieve its objectives, it will fall short of its possibilities or even fail.


Create a Project Plan or Procedure Model and Stick to it!

After adopting your process model, you should stick to your planning and analyse deviations and modify your planning again. In doing so, you should not change anything about the goal.
Just take the example from training for a long-distance run again, any deviation from your planning will set you back again and the achievement of the goal will be affected.
It is the same with digitalisation and digital transformation. Here, too, you will only achieve your goal if you do everything for it, the set milestones or the necessary tasks are completed. Make sure that they always have compliance with tasks, deadlines and milestones on the agenda in your project meetings.


On Your Marks, Get Set, Go!

It is normal to get a little tired during a long project period. (Even in a marathon 'hitting the wall' is always a risk, this is also true in a digital transformation project), but it is important that you keep going and be mindful of the preparations you've made. Even if it doesn't seem like it, but every step you take, with every task you complete, with every milestone you reach, you get a step closer to the finish line.

Don't expect digitisation or digital transformation to be either a quick process or easy project. It is not guaranteed that success will happen if you 'speed up' the project or the processes. Changing processes in companies takes time, you have to ensure all employees for your project and the digital transformation are kept informed and on side, factoring in time to adapt and learn is vital. Use the possibilities to install a change management, train your employees and you will most likely realise a successful project for digitalisation and digital transformation.


Summary & Conclusion:

  • Digitisation and digital transformation affect the entire company.
  • In order to realise a successful digitalisation project, it is necessary to create a project plan with tasks, milestones and deadlines.
  • Install a change management to bring your employees along with you
  • A digitalisation and digital transformation project is not a sprint, it is a marathon!


If you have any questions, get in touch with us. We're happy to help!
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We hope you find this publication useful. If you have any further questions on this topic, we look forward to hearing from you." - Dr Harald Dreher