Let’s be clear: there are no shortcuts to achieving your desired digital transformation goals. For organizations that really want to make a success out of their digital transformation, there is a limit to how much you can compress timelines.

If you’re in the early stages of your digital transformation, this is a harsh reality. You need results now, but maybe consultation has given you a 3-to-5 year estimate for the project. That can seem like a lifetime away.

The upside is that digital transformation is a continuous, “build-measure-learn” process. It’s never a “one-and-done” undertaking that, one day, will suddenly deliver ongoing digital success. And because of this, it’s possible to secure early wins in your journey that will pay dividends throughout the rest of the process.

But if you want to fast track those quick wins, you’ll need to do a bit of preparation, assessing your current position and planning out where you want to be. Here’s where to start.

Look for fast value

It’s important to get your priorities straight if you want to see faster return on investment. To identify these, ask yourself:

  • What is most valuable to my organization?
  • Where are our areas of concern?
  • Where do we want to make changes and transform?
  • Where do we have the best chances for return on investment? (Note that you don’t need absolute dollar amounts here. Performing even a simple sizing exercise will help you realize where the best places are to invest, as well as how much effort will have to be put into each activity.)

Now you should have your priorities — and your best chances at quick wins.

From this point, you’ll have a better view into the improvements that you can start making, more or less, immediately. This might include how you track and evaluate leads, how you engage with customers (and through which channels), how you manage cyber issues, and how you host and pay for applications.

Once that’s clear, you’ll find that you have discovered the areas within your business that will deliver the most value up-front. It should be much easier, at this point, to prioritize future digital transformation work and get quick wins under your belt.

Don’t forget your dependencies

Once you’ve discovered where the greatest ROI resides, you might think the next logical step is to get to work. However, before you do that, you’ll need to understand the complex web of interdependent processes and systems that make up your business.

A priority action at the top of your list will often rely on another action taking place. Perhaps it might even need a new system to be put in place. This task may be more complex, or may offer a smaller initial return, but without it you won’t be able to push forward with your priority task.

You might, for example, want to introduce a new automation tool to help you deliver more personalized customer experiences, but this will have knock-on effects on the rest of your digital ecosystem. How will it impact and interact with things like your content management system, or your customer relationship management system?

In systems as complex as the modern workplace, changes have a powerful ripple effect. Be sure you understand where dependencies exist before rushing forward.

It’s time to act

Of course, putting a plan in place doesn’t have to mean you’re stuck working to rigid timelines towards a delivery date. A more constructive way of thinking about your plan is as a map, marking out areas to tackle.

Now that you’ve prioritized tasks based on need, such as cost vs. benefit, and grouped them by interdependencies, you should have a clear picture of what needs to be delivered, and when. You’ll know what tools and processes you’ll need to get to the next stage. Equally important, you’ll know which teams will have to be involved.

Digital transformation has a huge cultural component that can’t be ignored. As you move through your digital transformation journey, you’ll need to foster a culture of continuous transformation. This means helping teams across the business understand the “build-measure-learn” process and aligning them under the overarching strategy.

Once your priorities are straight and your teams are aligned, the only thing left is to act. Focus on getting those quick wins in and use these successes to encourage your teams and stakeholders.

Keep it moving

As we’ve all become acutely aware of in 2020, agility is key to growth. As you work through your digital transformation priorities, you should evaluate your situation and environment, identifying where you might be deviating from the original plan.

But deviating is no bad thing. At every stage of the project, you should measure, learn, and adapt. Approach digital transformation iteratively, with an agile mindset, and you’ll find quicker, longer-lasting success.

Fast-tracking the entire process may not be possible, but achieving (and celebrating) early wins will really provide the boost you need, straight out of the gate.

Want to build a future-proof digital experience foundation to beat the competition? Sitecore can assist.

Pieter Brinkman is Senior Director of Technical Marketing at Sitecore, overseeing global strategy for its developer ecosystem, technical enablement of partners and technical employees, GTM strategies, and Sitecore’s sales demos.