October 8, 2021

Tips for budgeting your DX project

Time for your organisation to jump on the digital transformation band wagon? You’ll need support from those who control the company purse strings. Here’s how to plan – and pitch – for your digital transformation journey.

There’s a lot of buzz around digital transformation (DX).

Once just a ‘nice to have’, DX is now seen as strategic business priority for organisations regardless of industry, accelerated by COVID-19 and the disruption it’s caused to business operations worldwide.

A recent study found that 63% of business leaders have made greater investment to technology on account of COVID-19. That same study also found that of those who made significant investment into DX, 64% saw a significant ROI as direct result of digital technology investment.

But DX doesn’t just happen overnight – when successful, it’s a journey that delivers its value in stages and requires thought, planning, support and investment before cost savings, improved productivity and revenue growth are realised.

To avoid being among the 36% of business that fail to recognise ROI on their digital investment your transformation project must be strategically and intelligently budgeted for.

In fact, a lack of adequate budgeting is one of the top challenges DX projects face. Budgets must be thoughtfully planned in advance, agile, and accurately reflect the scale and complexity of the project. Importantly digital change must get buy-in from those who control the company purse strings.

Want to get digital? Here are a few tips to keep you on track as you plan – and pitch – for your DX journey.

1.     Surround yourself with a top notch team

Budget allocators will judge the likelihood of a project’s success on the strength and capabilities of the people involved, so it’s critical you assemble and nurture a competent team from the outset.

Typically, your team will comprise a blend of technology, process and business expertise. Look to include a project lead, a change champion(someone who markets the project internally and externally), technical engineers, a business expert (i.e. a subject matter guru on the function or process being transformed), a data scientist, UX expert, financial analyst and product tester (someone whose job it is to literally try and break your new tech).

2.     Identify who makes the budgeting decisions

It’s not uncommon for multiple projects to compete for the same budget dollars – especially in large companies. For this reason, it’s crucial you pitch your project to the right person, responsible for the relevant resources, and ensure your pitch speaks directly to their pain points. What are your project’s goals? What does it look like? How will the tech be used and by who? Will it integrate with your company’s existing environment?

3.     Build a solid business case

When pitching for budget allocation, it’s important you clearly communicate why your project should be a company priority. A strong business case will demonstrates the real-world improvements the project will bring – including return on investment.

The more value your business case can demonstrate the better. Include predictive analysis to provide information such as before and after comparisons of what the transformation project will accomplish. Quantify exactly how it will increase productivity, reduce the number of manual processes within your organisation or business unit and grow profits. The more benefits to the business and real-world improvements you can demonstrate the better.

Your DX project will venture into areas that can be easily overlooked, so your business plan and budget must also be rigorous. Consider:

  • Infrastructure – how will your new digital solutions be supported?
  • Data – what content needs to be migrated from your existing systems over to the new?
  • Compliance and security – what investment will be needed to ensure the privacy and security of both your company data, and your customers’?
  • Change management – your digital transformation will likely disrupt and replace existing processes, so how will the necessary changes be rolled out across your organisation?

4.     Ensure your plan – and budget – is agile

DX is not a static process – predicting every bump and turn along the journey is near impossible considering the rapid rate of change being driven by constant technology advances.

To cater for these unforeseen twists, it’s crucial your business plan is agile. Build flexibility into your budget for unforeseen expenses, such as additional labour costs and software. Ensure you budget is fluid enough to capitalise on new trends and market conditions. Assume there could be a change to your organisation’s leadership, which could stall the project. Build a buffer for staff sickness, leave and global disruptions (hello COVID-19) that could potentially delay your project.

To help manage all of the above, and protect future budget allocations and your team’s reputation, ensure you set expectations clearly from the start (i.e. communicate the need for agility and flexibility) and keep stakeholders in the loop through regular updates. 

5.     Market the idea to the rest of your organisation

For your DX project is to be a success, buy-in from the C-Suite is important, but so is support from the wider organisation.

To create a culture that inspires employees to adopt the new technology, you need to clearly communicate the ways it will improve their working environment. The more you can involve the people and departments involved in the project, the better, so identify your stakeholders early, communicate to them their role and contribution, explain how the technology will benefit them and be open to discussing their ideas and concerns.

6.     Arm yourself with supporting data

Nothing secures ongoing funding support quite like solid data. Your pitch should highlight and list the following baseline metrics that will continue to be tracked throughout your digital transformation and beyond:

  • Revenue increases
  • Cost decreases
  • Employee efficiency
  • Employee retention
  • Percentage of market share
  • The number of employees needed to perform particular business tasks 

The above metrics not only act as KPIs to keep the DX team on track, they offer key stakeholders and budget allocators a record of documented success on which future requests for funding will be based.

7.     Appeal for budget allocation well in advance

Finally, don’t leave your pitch for DX funding to the lastminute. Know when your company’s annual budget is being set and ensure you present your pitch to the right people before budgets are allocated for the year. Miss this boat and your grand plans to digitally transform your business unit or company may sit on the back burner for another year leaving you – and your organisation – in the wake of those more organised.

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