Part two of our three-part series examines how people should form the basis of your digital strategy
This is part two of an ongoing three-part series. If you missed part one, you can catch up on it here.
This definition was simple: People are integral to embedding digital into your organisation, its processes and its operations. In order to build an effective digital strategy, you must be people-driven.
There is no one-size-fits-all template for digital strategy. A successful strategy will be built around the simple premise of connecting your mission with your people.
There are two types of people to consider: your staff (including employees and volunteers) and your supporters (including donors and service users). Your strategy must build around them.
For example, a digital strategy that doesn’t take into account how your staff work will not secure buy-in from the people in your organisation and will most likely be abandoned or not adhered to. Likewise, a strategy that doesn’t focus on delivering content and services to your beneficiaries on the digital channels they prefer to use will always be fighting an uphill battle.
Choosing the right platforms for your digital strategy can be a daunting process. That’s why we’re saving it for part three of this series. Instead, we want to focus on how you can learn as much as possible about your people. This will make decisions regarding platforms much simpler.
Let’s dive into it!
Like with most things, change in digital strategy starts at the very top of the organisation with those in leadership positions.
Digital leadership is demonstrated by a leader who understands the digital ecosystem - someone who can identify how digital will contribute to an organisation’s strategy and builds trust and motivation amongst colleagues to make the digital vision a reality.
A digital leader doesn’t always need to understand how technology works to in order lead digital change. They can lead using coaching techniques and by relying on the advice and expertise of other staff. Strong leadership will create an environment of motivation so that charity employees are keen to embrace digital more in order to increase the impact that their organisation has.
In this way, anyone can become a digital leader within their organisation. It doesn’t matter what your level of seniority is. Digital transformation is the result of a shift in organisational culture. And this culture is built up of individual actions. Anyone can be a digital leader by taking responsibility for small digital actions related to their job role and building up from there.
Let’s focus on how you can establish this culture.
Successful digital culture and strategy implementation requires an organisation to develop the right mindset.
This mindset is comprised of four key areas:
The hardest part of embracing a new culture is accepting that digital is a continual learning process - both for individuals and for the organisation as a whole.
Taking small steps in order to learn and move forward is the right way to proceed. Focus on this, rather than always seeking to understand every last detail before making a change.
You can ensure that small steps don’t result in slow progress by embracing the concept of fast cycle times. Making a small step every 1-2 weeks adds up to a massive change over a year.
Ownership is about digital becoming a key consideration of everyone’s job rather than something thought about by just a central team. In this way the people who are closest to the day to day processes and therefore understand them best become empowered to make changes.
Collaboration is vital for successful digital projects as significant digital changes might involve a process that is touched by many parts of the organisation and need to bring together operational and technical staff to successfully design and deploy new approaches.
A successful digital strategy needs to be user-led. This means that the needs and behaviours of beneficiaries, donors and other stakeholders need to be the starting point for everything.
Initially, this focus will need to be deliberate. But over time it should become a core part of the culture and should ultimately bring you closer to donors, service users and all those involved with your charity.
That is why It’s also important to invest in people.
Every job needs to include relevant digital skills. These are the skills which will enable the post-holder to achieve their objectives, in support of organisational objectives. For example, a supporter care manager may be required to manage responses to supporters on social media, web chat as well as on email and on the phone.
There are 3 ways to ensure you get the right digital skills into your organisation.
The first is recruitment. It’s not always easy to find the right candidates, but don’t be afraid to sacrifice knowledge of the sector for a thorough digital skillset. How the sector works is easier and less costly lesson than upskilling a charity veteran. The startup world is teaming with advanced digital talent and most graduate students leave college with an extensive digital proficiency.
If the skillset cannot be recruited, training and support should be provided to current staff.
Learning and development is essential for an organisation to become truly digital. Once the digital skills & behaviours needed for different roles are identified, a training programme needs to be developed to support staff, managers and members of the board to enable longer-term transition to a digitally transformed organisation.
Often digital leads in organisations are either not properly skilled, not given enough time, or ineffectively positioned in the organisational hierarchy to support the leadership in managing change. It is therefore essential to invest in the development of digital experts into digital leaders to help guide the organisation through digital transformation.
If neither of those are an option then external partners and agencies allow organisations to fill the digital skill gaps in some organisations. There are many digital agencies out there that can cater to your needs, but most have expertise in specific areas rather than digital as a whole and are often pricey over long periods of time.
As well as paid for digital agencies there are many pro-bono companies and freelancer platforms that can supplement some of the need. Datakind are a great example pro-bono help with data projects and platforms like Fiverr can help with some digital needs also.