In my twenty-five years as a customer engagement strategist, program governance has always been a significant component of every project I’ve managed. My focus and interest in governance lie in its utility as an organizational capability to ensure the success of both company initiatives and the business as a whole.
To us at Silverline, governance-based digital transformation means that proper program governance is established with representation across all levels of an organization. Communication channels need to be in place to drive expectations, alignment, and progress. Businesses should identify their decision-making processes, empower decision-makers, and establish checks and balances for efficacy and compliance. Governance creates guard rails to keep a project on track. Neglecting to put up guard rails can cost a business money, time, and credibility within their respective industries.
Benefits of Governance in Digital Transformation
Governance gives your business a competitive advantage. One key metric I establish with our team is a quantifiable value-add: good governance brings in cold hard dollars. Governance controls can differentiate you from your competitors and allow you to capitalize on your investment in a way others can’t, by planning and aligning across your entire institution and contributing to a cultural shift, as mentioned in the “Data Obsessed” article. This shift occurs because governance is linked to enterprise goals, not just departmental roles. One of the biggest mistakes organizations can make is to miss the enterprise focus, leading to neglect of the customer. Essentially, cultural shifts through proper governance and data capture equate to greater efficiency, certainty and a significant return on investment.
Within programs and business, people tend to work on muscle memory, developing habits surrounding the way they perform their roles and responsibilities. (We’ve discussed this resistance to change in the “Adoption-Driven” article.) This force of muscle memory makes it difficult to redirect people and systems into correct habits that will benefit the business. Think of this force in the term of Newton’s Law, which states that force in motion tends to stay in motion.
One of the most important aspects of governance is establishing the correct habits and protocols at the institutional level, putting the brakes on that rote motion and making it a deliberate strategy based on rules the business requires to go live with a viable, value-based solution. Governance shouldn’t be mistaken for personal accountability. Governance is a company-wide need, with rules that consistently dictate the needs of the business, not personal agendas.
To carry on with our analogy, take Newton’s theory of entropy, as expressed in the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which states all order tends towards disorder. If you leave a team or a business without any significant rules of operating, they will tend to evolve naturally and move away from your original core intent, leaving order in favor of disorder. The need for guardrails is the most common reason to ensure governance is part of your project plan and a key benefit.
Risks of Poor Governance in Digital Transformation
There are the risks to neglecting governance that we’ve touched on already, but there are even more considerable risks worth calling out.
Failing to plan for governance can lead to a:
- Lack of measurability. If the business hasn’t adopted good governance practices at the start of the project and instituted them across the breadth of their business, you’ll have no measurements in place to quantify successes and failures.
- Lack of understanding of successes and failures. If you don’t know how you’ve failed or succeeded, in detail, you’ll never be able to get the full value from your investment, wasting time and money.
- Lack of repeatability of successes. If you aren’t planning for governance and tracking metrics for success, you’re missing an opportunity to repeat the successes in future initiatives.
A final risk of lack of governance is specific to industries that have a high demand for regulatory compliance. For example, within Healthcare and Financial Services, there is a host of governing bodies that must be taken into consideration when setting up a digital transformation project, regulating everything from consumer information, to how a business conducts itself within the marketplace. There are significant financial and reputational penalties to companies with a lack of regulatory guidelines and governance.
Moving away from Newton’s Laws of Motion, when it comes to governance over the long-term, we can refer to Newton’s views on time. Newton defined time as merely a measure of cycles of change within our world, without a beginning or an ending. Applying this concept to governance, our focus becomes ensuring that governance continues to fit the changes to the product life cycle in perpetuity. Governance needs to be as flexible and malleable as your business is, responding to the ebbs and flows, peaks and valleys of your market. The guard rails need to follow the curves of the road you’ve established, rather than cutting right across it.
The good news is Silverline is well positioned to help your business achieve digital transformation with the right governance guidelines in place, no matter your industry. Silverline’s practice areas and governance standards ensure your business has the correct measures in place, with the ability to identify the successes and failures, and is committed to making your successes repeatable.
Whether you’re new to digital transformation and driving governance or you need to jumpstart your existing journey map, Silverline has best practices to help you navigate your route. Subscribe to the Silverline blog as we dive into each of the 10 Keys to Successful Digital Transformation on the Salesforce platform, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a demo.