Does this sound familiar? Your company has a long list of ambitious digital transformation initiatives and projects. IT is likely struggling under the weight of backlogs, scarce resources, and a talent gap but is gamely trying make things happen. If so, I have good news. You can set up teams to accelerate digital transformation without making major investments in resources—unless that’s what you want. All you have to do is follow these steps.

Step 1: Assemble an Adoption Team

Digital transformation affects a whole company. It’s not just an “IT thing.” It also changes how business gets done. Therefore, there needs to be a force to push change across your organization. Without it, the smallest setback can result in the scrapping of an entire project. I call this force an adoption team. To build yours, you need to draft people to fill the following key roles:

  • Executive sponsor: Digital transformation requires support from the very top. An executive sponsor (or sponsors) who can articulate a compelling vision and find the necessary funding is essential.
  • Adoption champion: Every movie has a resilient hero full of enthusiasm. In a digital transformation initiative, the adoption champion is that hero, driving the program and building consensus with gusto, while being able to handle a few knocks here and there.
  • Adoption expert. All teams and projects benefit from the guidance of someone who has been on the journey before and is full of valuable advice and direction. This is the adoption expert, whose experience and support keep unwelcome surprises at bay.

For these roles, you’ll need to look inside your organization and work out who is most likely to fulfill these roles. The one exception is the adoption expert, who is usually a consultant or representative from another company whose business is accelerating digital transformation.

Step 2: Build a Core Digital Transformation Development Team

When a person faces what seems like a massive project or activity, experts advise breaking it down into small parts to make it more manageable. And this is how you should approach digital transformation: by starting small, usually with a simple application or software. Your adoption team can help decide what to try. At that point, you can build a core development team.

Who Should Be on the Core Team

Naturally, every organization has its own unique structure, and yours is no different. However, when it comes to delivering software, there are some common functions involved, and they can be broken down to form your core as follows:

  • Business user: Someone has to use your software or app. Have at least one representative from the business working with your core team, sharing process information and even testing, if needed.
  • Product owner: It’s a good idea to have someone act as a proxy between the development team and the business user and help keep the project on track.
  • Tech lead: Tech leads address architectural and operational tasks. They design app-level architecture, control code quality, and map technical features to business requirements.
  • Developers: If your project doesn’t require a mobile app with a front-end to delight consumers, you can complete your first app with a few all-purpose developers. If you’re using a low-code platform, you won’t need more than three.

Where to Find Your Core Team and What to Look For

You can find people for this team inside your organization or out, depending on your size and makeup. For the business user, you’ll want someone who truly understands the business process or processes you are transforming and is comfortable with technical communication. The product owner should have project management and excellent communication skills.

For the tech lead, target professionals with more than two years of team leadership and customer-facing experience. Your developers should have more than three years of software development experience and are comfortable using .NET, Java, or JavaScript.

Step 3: Expand Your Core Team

After you build your first application for digital transformation with this team, you’ll quickly see the need to expand to bigger and more exciting projects with amazing user experiences. So, it’s time to increase the size of your team.

Who Should Be on the Expanded Team

To ensure a user experience that is intuitive, comfortable, and brilliant, add these roles:

  • Key users: Mobile apps require a customer focus. Key users provide that perspective throughout the design and development process.
  • Tester: First impressions determine an app’s success. You need a dedicated and knowledgeable tester on your team for performance and cross-device testing.
  • Front-end developer: If you want to build an app that users will adopt, you’ll need a dedicated front-end developer who gets into the minds of users, cares about their experiences, and pays attention to every detail that is part of this process.
  • UX/UI designer: Understanding the customer journey and developing an optimized experience requires the specialized skills of a UX/UI designer.

Where to Find Your Expanded Team and What to Look For

To find your key users, look for people who are interested in making an impact on your project by describing what they look for in a digital experience and who are willing to try and test things out. For your testers, you’ll need someone who is detail-oriented, skeptical, and has at least three years of software QA, test planning, and test writing experience.

Your front-end developer should be a seasoned front-end and UI development professional with skills in HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and responsive web design, and be well-versed in the technology and tools used for front-ends. Your UX/UI designer should have a UI and UX background, but you can also look for candidates with psychology or journalism degrees because they tend to be investigators who ask questions.

By the way, to close the loop, you’ll need your customer service team to be ready to deliver excellent service as part of the rollout of a new customer solution. Get ready to cheer; you’re on the fast path to success with an app that users can’t wait to try. But there’s no stopping now.

Step 4: Turn Your Team Into a Center of Excellence

Success begets... requests for many more apps. This is a critical point in the digital transformation journey. The demand can quickly spiral out of control until you’re right back where you’re started: staring down an overworked IT team with a heavy backlog load and an adoption team that’s lost interest. It doesn’t have to be that way, though.

With a Center of Excellence providing just the right level of governance and control, you can safely scale your digital transformation projects across multiple teams, all set up just like your first ones. That’s right; you’re going to have more teams involved in digital transformation now. So make sure you’ve got best practices for architecture and UI/UX in place for everyone.

Who Should Be on Your Center of Excellence Team

You’ll also benefit from adding a couple of more roles as you build out your Center of Excellence:

  • Program Manager: Working closely with the business users, adoption team, and product owners, the Program Manager takes the lead in prioritizing and sequencing new apps and features in your projects.
  • Architect: In a Center of Excellence, the architect develops standards for architecture, communicates them to project teams, and makes sure they are used. This provides the consistency that prevents technical debt and keeps things humming along.

Where to Find Your Center of Excellence Team and What to Look For

For your program manager, look for someone who has experience running projects, along with technical depth and excellent communication skills. A continuous improvement mindset is critical.

To find your architect, target people who know your business and industry and have comprehensive experience with projects that combine hardware, software, application, customer service, and systems engineering. They should demonstrate knowledge of IT governance and operations and excellent interpersonal leadership skills. Don’t settle for anyone with less than exemplary communication skills.

With this leadership, you can set up multiple core and expanded teams whenever and wherever they’re needed. Your digital transformation projects can scale with sustainability.

Step 5: Get the Playbook

So, did you get all that? Or are you thinking you might not get all this right the first time? Despite how much easier digital transformation can be when you structure your teams and projects in just the right way, it’s a lot of work. Fortunately, there’s a guide for that. The Digital Transformation Foundation Playbook is a super reference for anyone who is overwhelmed by massive backlogs, scarce resources, legacy systems, and uncertainty and needs to kick-start their digital journey.

Check it out and give it a try. Or, if you need help making sure your digital transformation struggles are a distant memory, let us know.