Building an engagement strategy to reinforce your digital transformationMatthew Maguire
In this blog series, we will be outlining how to design and execute an effective digital transformation engagement strategy and make maximum use of your internal technology to efficiently share high-quality content. The series will be divided into four parts, including:
- Building an engagement strategy to reinforce your digital transformation
- Top tips for writing effective communications for technology change
- Making best use of Microsoft 365 to drive efficient multi-channel engagement
- Using Power Automate to create a communications subscription service
COVID-19 has driven a quantum leap in digital transformation, with businesses quickly adopting new technology to enable remote working, respond to changing customer needs, and serve preferences for remote digital experiences. A recent McKinsey survey suggests that 62% of leaders expect this intensity of digital transformation to continue, creating challenges for managing near-continuous organisational change and the internal communications to support it.
Why effective engagement is key for successful digital transformation
Digital transformation cannot succeed without people; to get real business benefit from technology investments, you need to effectively engage with your colleagues so they can quickly and effectively adopt new ways of working. However, as we attempt more simultaneous technology changes, we risk eroding the working experience of our colleagues. They can be left feeling surprised by yet another change they were unaware of, not consulted about, and from which they see little benefit.
To avoid this, it is key to design and execute a centralised digital transformation engagement strategy. This plan should set out who will communicate and to which colleagues, the planned technology changes and when they will occur, and place emphasis on any key messages. A recent survey suggests that 60% of companies don’t have a strategy for internal communications, let alone a strategy of digital transformation engagement, so there are likely opportunities for you to make improvements in your business.
A digital transformation engagement strategy can create a strong company culture that promotes learning, change, and growth. It helps colleagues to recognise the need for change, see how the change will make the business better, and understand what they need to do to support it. Done well, an engagement strategy can bring a wide range of benefits, including:
- Increased awareness and understanding of changes
- Improved colleague empowerment and morale
- Better colleague working experience and culture
- Improved productivity through faster adoption of new ways of working
- Better alignment of colleagues with business objectives
- Faster change implementation, releasing business value earlier on
- More collaboration across teams around how best to adopt changes
- Greater trust and confidence in IT delivery teams
Ten steps to building and executing your digital transformation engagement strategy
Your colleagues have increasingly high expectations about the quality, timeliness, and format of engagement and communications. As a result, you should apply the same effort to internal engagement with your colleagues as you do with external engagement with your customers. Start by getting commitment and ongoing support from your CIO / CTO, internal communications partners, and technology change delivery teams; you will need them all to work together to design and deliver the strategy.
Depending on your situation, you can then choose from the ten steps below:
1. Craft a clear vision and strategy
Work with the CIO / CTO to paint a vivid picture about why change is essential and how the transformation will personally benefit your colleagues and customers. Write the vision down, share it widely, and keep referring back to it in all of your communications. For the strategy, accompany the vision with a concise, non-technical, sequential description of how the change is going to work over the next year. Keep it simple.
2. Carefully use language to reinforce key messages
Create and share with your leaders a lexicon of key terms and concepts which should be used for all engagement and communications, such as ‘benefits’, ‘goals’, ‘business objectives’, ‘customer experience’, ‘colleague satisfaction’ etc. In the case of ‘benefits’, for example, you should record what these are for each transformation initiative so you can frequently refer to them in your engagement. Repetition is key to ensuring the concepts are embedded.
3. Create and maintain a high-level transformation planner
Develop a simple spreadsheet which details when, by month, each transformation initiative is due to release a tangible benefit to colleagues across the business. This planning tool can then be used to synchronise and prioritise your communications activity. You can also ask your reprographics team to create a visual roadmap which you can share so people know what benefits they should expect in the coming year.
4. Establish a transforming together hub on your intranet
Establish a dedicated area of your intranet for digital transformation content and consistently refer colleagues to it so that it becomes the ‘go to’ place for information about future changes. Start by sharing the roadmap for the year ahead, ticking off items as they are delivered, and gradually build out content for each initiative in your high-level plan. Content could include web pages about each initiative, FAQ pages, recordings of meetings, or training materials.
5. Create and follow a messaging calendar
Use your high-level transformation planner to create a spreadsheet which details how the engagement and communications for each transformation initiative will run. Work back from the go live day or equivalent, deciding who is best to communicate, to whom, about what, when, and how. You can then orchestrate activity weeks in advance, reducing stress and improving quality. Be creative about the ‘who’ and ‘how’ to ensure you achieve effective two-way engagement. As above, you can share a consumable version of the messaging calendar so that colleagues can see when they will start to get information about forthcoming changes.
6. Host quarterly town hall events
Setup quarterly events for technology leaders to give updates on each transformation initiative, highlighting the benefits delivered. Get good news stories and vignettes from front-line colleagues to emphasise the collective transformation journey. Recognise, reward, and praise those who have contributed to success so far. Open the session up for Q&A and provide open and honest answers. Reshow your roadmap and tick off the items achieved. Record the session and make it available on your transformation hub for those unable to attend.
7. Establish a digital champions network
Assemble volunteers for each key area of the business to support the digital transformation delivery teams. Get them decisively involved from the outset, from helping to identify requirements and working out how migrations should work, to coordinating testing. Use the network to advocate for the changes and foster collaboration between teams.
8. Standardise the style, format, and content of information across change initiatives
Develop and enforce an engagement and communications style guide so there is consistency about content, style, and formatting across the business. Ask your digital champions network to review and polish up communications, ensuring that the key information is included in a logical flow and avoids unnecessary jargon. Set up design templates so that all documents, presentations, emails, and social media posts have the same look and feel. Ensure basic communications cover:
- What is changing?
- What are the colleague and customer benefits?
- When will it happen?
- What will be different afterwards?
- What, if anything, needs to be done in advance?
- When will further information be provided?
- Who can I reach out to for more information or to raise an issue?
Keep an eye out for the next article in this series which will cover top tips for writing effective communications.
9. Deliver the same message across multiple channels
You colleagues will have preferences about how they consume information and learn; some favour traditional ‘push’ communications like email, while others prefer to ‘pull’ information from a website or enterprise social tool at a time that suits them. Consider sharing the same information in a variety of ways, such as:
- FAQ pages on your digital transformation hub
- Weekly newsletter or other email
- Daily post on enterprise social network
- Live presentation and town hall events (with recording posted online after)
- Presentation recordings shared on your intranet
- ‘Briefing packs’ (slides and narrative) for leaders to use with their teams
10. Automate where possible to improve efficiency
You will want to focus your time on crafting the most effective communications and engagement content rather than the mechanics of delivering it. Where you can, invest in using the automation tools available to streamline your processes towards a ‘create once, share many’ approach. In later articles in this series, we will explore how to make best use of Microsoft 365 to drive efficient multi-channel engagement, including using Power Automate to create a communications subscription service.
Keep it simple
As you develop your strategy, remember to keep everything simple – from the content itself down to the plan for how it should be delivered. You should aim to:
- Consistently emphasise the colleague and customer benefits of every change
- Use two-way engagement (not just one-way communications) to empower people from the outset
- Provide concise, almost tailored communications so your key messages cut through the daily noise
- Be consistent with content, format, and branding so your messages build confidence and trust
- Share the same content across town halls, web portals, emails, and social networks so your colleagues can get the information how they want to
Credera has over 30 years’ experience delivering challenging digital transformations, including helping our clients setup and run internal technology communication functions. Reach out to us if you need advice on how to develop your strategy, craft your key messages, and make the most of your internal communications technology.
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