Successful Association leaders are those who think strategically. If you are a leader whose organization is considering a major digital change, careful planning is necessary to ensure success. Your plan needs to incorporate vision, insight, reality, and your constituents. The following six steps can help you navigate your next digital project from planning through to completion.
Step 1: Planning
Your plan needs to incorporate the following:
- Executive Overview – describe the nature of the digital project, the approach, and the long-term commitment to change. You need to give the management team an accurate estimation of the time it should take to complete the technology project. Break it down into small pieces. Pick the simplest parts first, so you can show some quick results and then a complex piece to pave the way for the other pieces.
- For each Digital project create:
- A problem statement
- Objectives that are both easily achievable and also more complicated in nature
- A sound technical architecture base
- The benefit to the member, staff, etc.
Step 2: Lay a Solid Foundation
To build a castle you need a great foundation. In Italy, the buildings that are 1-2 thousand years old sit on foundations that were built over 50-year periods. You don’t have 50 years, but you do need a good technical platform on which to build your foundation. Consider a business platform that has all/most of the necessary pieces pre-built so that you don’t need to keep re-imagining the digital journey in the subsequent years. We believe the best is the Microsoft Business Platform for Associations. With a billion-dollar investment and the ability to support the largest organizations in the world, we believe this platform will give you the solid backing to grow and adapt that you need, particularly if you want to undergo a Digital Transformation.
Microsoft walks the talk when it comes to Digital Transformation. Their CEO, Satya Nadella, has transformed Microsoft from a product-based company to a platform which transformed them from a $350 billion company to a $780 billion company in 4 years. The new Microsoft is really 100% different from the Microsoft we have known for the last 25 years. The business platform division is growing between 40%-75% per year. The Microsoft platform is both the largest and most affordable business platform on the market. What they are doing is amazing and you will want to start exploring how vast and easy it is.
Step 3: Protect the House
Make sure your current revenue streams, membership models, non-dues revenue, event management, donations, etc. are integrated into your foundational platform. The automation of these are critical for your existence. No dues, no event, no you.
Step 4: Capture Digital Signals and Journeys Today – Analyze Them Tomorrow
From the first-time your members visit your website through the last time they renewed, attended a conference, or commented on your community site, they left a digital signature and a trail. Start capturing and recording all these signals so you can analyze hem later. With every interaction, record the trail. Record it all, and don’t worry how much the space will cost. Times have changed and the cost for storage is considerably less than it was in the past.
Step 5: Plan on Consistent Improvement
Take a page from Michael Dell’s book “Direct from Dell: Strategies that Revolutionized an Industry” and every single month or quarter identify and attack your top 3 inefficiencies. Altai’s saying is “Automate the mundane!” which means to identify processes that can be enhanced through technology. This is a continual process. We encourage you to bounce ideas off your AMS’ management (like Altai). Improvement does not end at Phase II!
Step 6: Smile at the Naysayers
There will be people in your organization who don’t want to update your technology. Smile at them and wish them well. Feel free not to take their advice and make sure any new hires don’t have the same qualities. Hire passion; technical skills can be taught, passion cannot. That said, converting a naysayer is thrilling to watch.
Altai is transforming, the industry is transforming, and soon you will need to as well. Digital transforming is an ongoing process; it will never end. As a testament to that, we’ve updated our Digital Transformation eBook: The Ultimate Guide to Digital Transformation for Association to include the items outlined in this blog post and so much more! Click eBook to download a copy.
In addition, to learn how to approach the next phase after going live with a major digital project, sign up for this month’s webinar “Life After Launch” presented by Rebecca Achurch of Achurch Consulting. It will include tons of tips to help ensure your digital planning stays on track.