Even an experienced organisation faces challenges in implementing a transformation initiative. This is just the beginning. Then there is the challenge of defining meaningful KPIs.

Measuring transformation progress is such a challenge that many companies avoid monitoring it altogether. More than half of all organisations we have worked with over the past 2 years have no metrics to measure transformation activities.

Many companies get so caught up in the excitement of launching a groundbreaking initiative, that drier matters like proper Business Cases with tangible KPIs get pushed to the background.

A framework to measure digital transformation is essential for success

This oversight cripples many transformations before they get off the ground. Between 70% & 84% of companies fail to achieve transformation success.

However, with a system for monitoring progress and identifying weak points, course-corrections can be made along the way to improve success and achieve organisational transformation.

Pinning down metrics to measure transformation is a challenge. When transformation looks different for all organisations, there are no universal metrics that apply to all enterprises.

Where some companies are introducing digital systems for the first time, others are migrating from legacy systems to more sophisticated cloud-based platforms. Still, others are adding new apps and tools in a piecemeal fashion to supplement their existing activities.

Moreover, transformations can take place on an enterprise-wide scale or within a particular department. The lack of consistency in transformation initiatives makes creating KPIs a challenge.

Transformation KPIs to measure success

There are many ways to assess the progress and efficacy of your transformation efforts. I want to cover 5 examples based on the assumption you have purchased new software/applications to assist with your Transformation Program of Work:

  • Measure the number of users relative to the number of licenses purchased
  • Analyse the breadth and limitations of usability
  • Count the number of processes performed on new software
  • Productivity indicators
  • Amount of new revenue attributed to digital investments

01. Measure the number of users relative to the number of licenses purchased

One way to measure the effectiveness is by comparing the number of licenses you purchased to the number of employees who are actually utilising the software.

This measurement gives you a basic sense of the adoption rate of your software investment. For instance, if you see that 90% of your licenses are being used, you can assume that the tool has been adopted. If just 30% of your licenses are being used, the lack of digital adoption is an obvious barrier.

But if you want to truly understand how your investments are being used to promote your digital strategy, may want to take a closer look at digital adoption.

02. Analyse the breadth and limitations of usability

Measuring exactly how your digital tools are being used will give you a clearer picture of how well your people have adopted the tools and actually achieve meaningful benefits.

To do this, you’ll need a solution that enables you to view the user journey and analyse where bottlenecks and friction occur.

With Insights, you receive the full picture of adoption, which is one of the strongest indicators of overall transformation success. You can see where each individual user struggles in processes, which features are being underutilised, and how to improve usability.

03. Count the number of processes performed on new software

In addition to understanding the overall level of adoption and usability, you’ll want to know how many processes are being performed on your new software. This will give you an idea of how much value your software investment is bringing.

Realising that few processes are being utilised can indicate a couple of different things. One is that the tool itself isn’t as relevant to the needs of your employees as you initially thought. The other possibility is a lack of adoption.

If this is the case, Insights can pinpoint the reason why. If poor usability is standing in the way, insights into the user journey can show you areas to simplify processes, provide greater training, or introduce automation or other targeted interventions. Remember, your Business Case should have driven you towards making the right decision on the right software in the first place, I’m making the grand assumption that your selection process was robust….. You would be surprised at the number of organisations that still find out once it is too late!!!

04. Productivity indicators

Transformation is not a standalone initiative. Each investment you make should support the broader goals of your business strategy.

There are many ways to measure the impact of your transformation on your overall strategy. One of them is productivity, which is generally understood as the volume or value of outputs relative to the time and resources invested.

For example, if you invested in a digital tool to enhance customer support, you can measure how many more support tickets your team was able to handle since implementing the new system.

05. Amount of new revenue attributed to digital investments

Similar to measuring productivity, you can measure how much your investments influence revenue.

For example, if you introduce automation into your customer journey, you can track how many prospects interacted with the tools and compare how many among them became paying customers.

Internally, you can see how various digital tools support efforts to bring in more business or improve operational efficiency.

Focus on the right metrics and guide your initiative to success

Transformation may vary tremendously from organisation to organisation, but there are some common metrics you can depend on to measure the success of your initiatives.

Success requires consistent monitoring and course-correction based on what you find out. No matter which metrics are most important to you, the first step to achieving the ROI you set out for is determining how to measure your transformation in the first place.

Which factors impact the choice of KPIs

The above metrics are among the most fundamental to implement during any transformation effort, but they are not the final word on KPIs. 

A number of other factors can affect the metrics that are chosen, including:

The goals of the transformation program. The stated goals of a transformation effort will be the primary areas to focus on when developing metrics. These goals should be quantifiable, measurable, and they should be directly tied to improving specific business outcomes.

External circumstances. Today’s business environment is continually changing, and those changes often dictate the direction of digital transformation efforts. Since the modern business world is so fast-paced, enterprise transformation programs should stay adaptable and agile as much as possible. This also means that measurements themselves should be ready to adapt to external circumstances if needed.

Which technology is being adopted. In most cases, transformation involves digital adoption, which is why digital adoption metrics should be prioritised. Measuring digital adoption helps organisations improve people productivity, software utilisation, and the ROI of their technology efforts. 

At the end of the day, transformation is aimed at helping an organisation adapt and thrive in a highly digital economy, so it only makes sense that transformation programs themselves adhere to best practices that support that aim. The more adaptable and responsive that your Board & Executive Leadership are when it comes to their own initiatives – including the way they measure and evaluate their programs – the more successful your programs will be. 

Of course, success does not just depend on the execution of a transformation program, but also on its scope and direction.

How to set the right digital transformation agenda

Since measurements will be focused on understanding and improving the goals of the transformation program, it is important to have a clear set of “strategic guardrails” when designing a transformation agenda. 

That is, business leaders should create a well-defined set of goals for the transformation effort, rather than simply purchasing and deploying new technology in an effort to stay modern. IT modernisation is an important piece of the transformation puzzle, of course, but it is only part of the overall purpose.

Here are a few common aims that organisations pursue as part of their transformation programs, which then, in turn, form the basis for metrics and measurements:

Digital maturity

Digital maturity is a scale that defines an organisation’s overall digital capabilities. It refers to the digital tools and the IT infrastructure of an organisation, as well as other important factors that impact those capabilities, such as people skill levels, the integration of the digital workplace, and how much software is being utilised.

There are a number of different models of digital maturity, but they generally are built upon a simple scale. 

At the bottom of the scale lies the least digitally mature organisations, with little or no digital capabilities. Organisations lack the right tools, and the tools they do have are poorly integrated and implemented. People, likewise, don’t have the required skills to operate those tools.

The most digitally mature organisations reside at the top of the scale. These organisations are more digitally capable, having a digitally savvy workforce, integrated technology stacks, and they leverage all of these capabilities to further the organisation’s strategic aims.

Since digital technology continually evolves, it could be argued that there is no such thing as 100% digital maturity – only continual digital evolution.

Regardless, there are massive benefits to becoming more digitally mature, which can range from improved customer experience to increased business efficiency to better organisational agility. 

Organisational agility

Organisational agility refers to how quickly an organisation can respond and adapt to changing circumstances. 

Like agile software developers, agile businesses are less interested in static processes and more interested in reacting to real-world conditions in real-time. 

Many organisations recognise the value of speed in today’s fast-paced economy: speed can help businesses outpace competitors, respond to customer needs more quickly, and become more successful. Transformation programs will often aim to improve organisational agility for these reasons, while also implementing agile organisational changes.

Boosts to organisational agility often serve other strategic aims, such as improving organisational performance, increasing product innovation, or enhancing the customer experience.

Customer experience improvements

The customer experience has become a key competitive differentiator. When businesses can develop the same types of products at the same costs, the experience is often what differentiates those products or services.

There are plenty of statistics to back this up. 

Two-thirds of customers care more about the experience than the price when making brand decisions. And companies that prioritised and effectively managed customer experience were three times more likely to have exceeded their business goals than their peers.

Reasons such as these compel many organisations to undertake transformation efforts that aim to improve and modernise the customer experience. 

The specific tactics can vary. Some organisations drive customer success through improved personalisation and back-end tools that create unified views of the customer. Other organisations focus on improving product design or improving marketing programs.

Regardless of the specifics, transformation agendas often put the spotlight on the customer experience – which, in turn, means that metrics should track this aim closely.

Business continuity

Ensuring the continued, uninterrupted flow of business is also a major focal point. 

Business continuity became even more of a concern since the COVID-19 pandemic dropped on us, when many businesses’ operations were threatened. Though working from home certainly has its perks, the overnight transition from office culture to a work-from-home culture took many organisations off guard.

The most digitally mature and flexible organisations – in terms of their technology, culture, and business processes – can minimise the negative impacts of disruptions such as these. 

Transformation programs designed to enable business continuity often aim at improving employees’ digital skills, enhancing their ability to work from home, and revamping business operations to fit changing business conditions.

This list of transformation objectives is certainly not exhaustive, but it should offer some insight into how metrics are assigned and tracked. Businesses that truly want to measure their transformations effectively, though, should understand the role that metrics play in fueling transformation – as well as what it takes to execute successful change.

How to choose the right measurement software

Every organisation measuring its transformation progress will certainly implement a number of measurement tools. Since the choice of these tools will affect the efficiency of measurement efforts – not to mention the workloads and workflows of those who will use them – the right tools can make a big difference in the overall flow of the transformation program.

Here are a few considerations to keep in mind when evaluating analytics software:

What areas need to be measured. Before choosing software, transformation leaders should have already chosen a few key areas to track, if not a set of specific metrics. Areas to track include those already mentioned: the articulated goals of the transformation effort, digital adoption metrics, software implementation and utilisation, and so forth. With these areas decided, it will be much easier to choose the most appropriate and efficient measurement tools.

What the software measures. The first consideration when examining tools is what the tool actually measures. This type of information proves invaluable when implementing new digital software since it can be used to improve peoples’ proficiency and productivity, as well as software ROI.

How usable it is. Not all software tools are equally usable. Some can provide insights, but only after tedious and extensive fine-tuning. If a transformation initiative involves multiple stages, these adjustments could prove very taxing and costly. Ease of use, therefore, should be another top concern when evaluating analytics products and vendors.

How that software integrates with existing technology stacks. Most modern software platforms recognise the need to integrate within their technological ecosystem. Every software platform has benefits and drawbacks – some are easier to use than others, some are more affordable, and some offer deeper insights. For these reasons, it is important to choose the right tool for the job. But it is also crucial to focus not just on individual tools, but on how they fit together as a whole. The right analytics toolbox, or stack, can help streamline measurement efforts while providing more useful and relevant information to program managers.

Measure transformation effectively 

Having the ability to measure digital transformation efforts is one of the most crucial capabilities to develop when roadmapping any change initiative. Yet all too often, organisations eagerly adopt new digital technologies or initiatives without a systematic approach to measurement, analysis, and improvement.

And while it is true that the right transformation efforts can radically improve many areas of a business, as with any other organisational change, how such changes are implemented has a direct impact on their success.

Taking a structured approach to transformation means developing a goal-oriented strategy, managing change at the individual level, and, just as importantly, measuring the transformation effort.

How can we help?

Talk to us about how we can help your organisation effectively measure your Transformation Program objectives to success. Making it real is what we do.

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About the Author

Jason Novobranec is Implementary’s Chief Operating Officer.

With over 20 years of Consulting, Program Management & Senior Leadership experience, Jason has delivered initiatives for large multi-national / multi-regional organisations as well as SME’s and is an expert in shaping solutions to fit a customer’s project needs.