This article marks the first in our three-part article series examining digital strategy
Digital transformation is one of the most misunderstood buzzwords in the charity sector. At it’s core, the process is a culture change that involves an organisation becoming more digital as a cumulative result of individual actions.
It means taking the digital mindset into your entire organisation and beginning change.
The process of implementing your digital strategy starts with the 3 Ps: planning, people, and platforms. As part of our 3-part series, we examine how planning can kick off the journey to becoming more digital.
Planning your digital strategy starts with thinking about the outcomes you’re looking to achieve.
Charities may want to increase community reach or boost financial health. The goals can be long or short term. For example, specific fundraising goals might only last as long as a specific campaign. Whereas service delivery goals might only be achieved after a longer period of time. Embedding a more digital mindset and improving the use of digital is normally a longer-term goal.
“Define your goals, plan your success dimensions and outline your measurement metrics.”
- Chris Hall - Marketing Manager at Charity Digital
Measuring success means defining what success looks like, in terms of both ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ features.
Soft measures are qualitative. An example of a soft success dimension is increasing public awareness of a charity cause. Soft measures are qualitative.
Hard measures are quantitative. Quantitative measures of success normally take the form of KPIs, or Key Performance Indicators. These could be specific percentage increases of internet traffic or expansion of income by a certain multiple.
“Be as specific as you can here. Saying that you’ll ‘raise the charity’s profile’ or ‘increase followers on Twitter’ is not enough. If you set goals which are SMART (i.e. specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timebound) you will be much more likely to achieve them.”
- Zoe Amar - Charity Digital Trustee
The journey to being more digital needs a starting point. A good way to begin is by looking inside your organisation and mapping out how digital is being used. This could take the form of a simple assessment of how you use digital and what teams use which digital tools.
Finding out where you are as an organisation on the digital maturity matrix can help you prepare for change. The NCVO’s digital maturity matrix looks at different areas of digital success and where charities stack up. Areas for improvement can also signal to charity digital leaders where to focus planning and digital efforts.
Moving forward, a competitive assessment or a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) helps steer digital efforts. Consultants BCG say that a competitive advantage assessment includes asking the questions:
BCG says that leaders can match up opportunities or areas of improvement with strategic goals. This can give the project focus and priorities.
An alternative to the competitive assessment is the SWOT analysis. Taking stock of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, the analysis helps guide the decision-making process. A SWOT analysis helps map out the strategic plan based on facts rather than gut feelings.
A digital roadmap is a step-by-step plan to defining, managing and implementing ideas in order to be more digital. In simple words, it’s a detailed ‘how-to’ for being more digital.
The NPC’s approach to the digital roadmap first defines roles, responsibilities and priorities within the project. End-users are then identified to see what digital tools are already in use, and where the gaps are.
The cultural element is also important, in terms of ensuring that everyone is on board. People and resources are allocated. During the implementation phase, digital products are tested, improved upon, and reiterated.
Sophisticated projects might use software development roadmaps. The agile approach to charity software development breakdowns down goals into bite-sized processes.
User journeys are at the heart of the agile approach. User stories map out each of the functions that need to be delivered and for which type of user. The agile approach builds out the digital roadmap by experiences rather than function.
Now that you’ve drawn up your roadmap, it’s time to drum up excitement for change. Before reaching out to anyone, do your homework and find out who you’ll be working with and relying on. This includes those controlling the budget.
Engagement with stakeholders early on in the planning process draws senior leaders into the project. The Association for Project Management recommends to ‘consult, early and often’ on a digital project. Remember that your stakeholders want to understand the ‘purpose, scope, risks, and approach,’ to being more digital. Making sure they are on board early avoids later misunderstandings.