Design and management of a digital strategy in industry

The challenge in this project: the initiative led to a major transformation process in the company

The joint project started with the development of a digital strategy and the support of initial pilot projects to optimise and automate business processes. From the get-go it was clear that this initiative would trigger a transformation across the entire organisation. One of the key challenges was to design the necessary process that would provide a solid foundation for the business strategy and the resulting digital strategy.

The goal was to effectively leverage the strengths of the existing expert culture in relevant areas of the project. At the same time, it was necessary to address the drawbacks of this culture, such as the generation of resource constraints, hindered knowledge transfer and lack of employee empowerment, and to create collaborative solutions.

In addition to a deep-rooted culture of expertise, the company was characterised by a strong sense of familial cohesion and long-term employee commitment. Despite rapid growth through acquisitions, the core of this positive culture was to be preserved. The aim was to establish process adherence and clear roles, while maintaining collaboration across responsibilities and employee identification with the company.

As a result, there were numerous parallel projects that needed to be prioritised, orchestrated, and delivered. Clear prioritisation, project management skills and tools, distributed responsibilities and resource allocation processes had to be established and then implemented directly within the projects.

Our Approach: digital and organisational transformation go hand in hand 

Together with the client’s management team, we defined its’ mission and strategy. We then focused the project work on digitalising business processes, improving market and customer focus, and fostering innovation. Sub-projects with a sprint character, carried out in mixed teams, facilitated the rapid development of interim results and successes.

In addition to projects and initiatives focused on technical and content-related aspects, the necessary change was considered as a fundamental aspect. This ensured that both overarching change issues (e.g. culture and leadership) and support for content issues could be addressed. A culture assessment identified key cultural issues that needed to be addressed in the transformation process. For example, it became clear that, in the early stages, managers needed to better understand their role in the change process and consciously lead the transformation. Workshops were held to convey knowledge and methods related to change processes.

The digitalisation projects were supported by active change management. The aim was to implement the change and project culture, communicate the added value to the project members, and enable a culture of “learning by doing”.

A key success factor of the project was the provision of technical expertise as well as the development of project management skills and the active management of cultural change. It was important to establish a cross-functional project team to effectively advise the client on the complexity and diversity of their project.

The Result: common alignment across all business areas was achieved

We achieved a high level of commitment from senior management, managers, and project team members. Managers were empowered to lead their people through the early stages of change. We created common alignment across the business and quickly piloted high-profile flagship projects for the digital future. These included the development of an application for smart glasses to support on-site construction advice and the optimisation of the entire order processing process. The future viability on the market was significantly enhanced by the development of a new target culture and rganisation.

At the same time, we initiated an rganisational transformation process that promotes integration, manages complexity, and builds on the company’s strengths. It was observed that, within a short period of time, the change processes developed its own momentum in line with the business strategy.

Our Conclusion: focusing solely on technical expertise is often insufficient

This project is a success story for us because it symbolises the essence of transformation: projects do not always operate within clear boundaries, and focusing solely on technical expertise is often insufficient. Management should develop the courage to quickly recognise new issues and requirements in during the project, to make adjustments, and, if necessary, to pragmatically change priorities, while never losing sight of the goal.

Fundamentally, the client’s willingness to recognise the importance of the human factor and change, and to integrate it into the project design from the get-go, is critical to success.

More on digital and organisational transformation at AXXCON.