Building a Winning Digital Transformation Team
April 02, 2018

Dan Juengst
OutSystems

As March Madness is well underway, the journey to the NCAA basketball national championship feels much like the journey many organizations are on to achieve business success through digital transformation.


Part of the digital transformation journey is realizing and accepting that change and adaptation are key to success. Just like basketball players are always looking to improve, digital transformation teams will always be looking for what they need to change next to better serve the needs of the business. There are several lessons organizations can learn from the playbooks of the leading basketball teams on how to build a balanced and winning digital transformation team. Each team, whether on the court or in an IT department, needs qualified skilled players in the right positions to achieve success.

So, how can organizations build teams that will lead them to become champions of digital transformation? Let's take a look at the players needed to make it to the digital transformation championship.

The All-Star Digital Transformation Team

There are three key players required to make any kind of major change within an organization: the adoption champion, the executive sponsor, and the adoption expert.

The adoption champion must be a resilient agent of change. This person is someone who makes things happen. Think of them as of the head coach. He or she sees something new and comes up with not just ideas, but actual plans for implementation. The adoption champion drives the success of new programs and helps to build consensus across other teams, just as a coach brings players together and leads them to success. When adopting new technologies, such as low-code development platforms, the adoption champion pushes people in the direction they need to go.

Next, every team needs an executive sponsor to ensure there is top-down support for the initiative at hand. This person must be able to articulate a compelling vision and find the necessary funding to bring the project to fruition. No basketball team can operate without an athletic director to advocate for the overall team, and the same goes for digital transformation teams. Teams that start work without an executive sponsor in place, may find themselves at a standstill down the line when they don't have the buy-in needed at the top or the funds to move the project forward.

Lastly, all teams need an adoption expert. This person acts as the adoption champion's right-hand man. This is someone who has taken this journey already and can act as a guide along the way. On a basketball team, this is paralleled by assistant coaches who specialize in specific areas, such as offense or defense. The adoption expert's experience serves to avoid unwelcome surprises along the way. Sometimes the adoption expert is a third-party from outside the organization, similar to shooting coaches who have targeted expertise an area the team needs to focus on.

With a proper A-team in place, digital transformation initiatives can get off the ground and on the right path. However, they'll need help getting started with new technologies. This is when the other key players of the team need to hit the court to actually build and implement new apps, systems, and processes.

More Key Players in a Digital Transformation Team of Champions

While every organization has its own unique structure, there are common functions involved in the delivery of software. Thinking through these common functions and figuring out which players need to be where on the court will help these teams succeed.

To start, every team needs a product owner. This person is like the team captain in basketball. The product owner is responsible for overseeing the team and making sure everything runs according to plan. Acting as a proxy between the development team and the business, the product owner translates business needs into features and functions — creating killer "plays."

Then you'll have the tech lead, who's like a point guard. The point guard is one of the most important positions on the court as they have to facilitate and have a good working relationship with the entire group and have the vision of everything that is happening on the court. This person is responsible for the implementation of innovative solutions — executing the killer "plays." When assessing who within your organization fits the bill for this role, look at who understands how to design application architecture, controls quality with peer code reviews, and understands how business requirements map to the technical features being implemented.

No team could be complete without the most obvious and necessary players: the developers. Similar to forwards and centers, they are essential to the team. The developers are responsible for building and testing collaborative applications using technology like low-code platforms. Developers work closely with the tech leads to bring new business solutions to life rapidly within the organization. Being able to respond quickly to ever-changing business needs is what digital transformation is all about.

Just as it isn't easy to adapt to new defenses thrown by opponents on the court, it is never easy to adapt to changes in the market or competitive landscape to keep the business moving forward. There are many stakeholders to appease and there will be challenges to overcome throughout any digital transformation. However, with the right team in place, there will always be someone to step onto the court to remove whatever stands in the way of ultimate success.

Dan Juengst is Principal Technology Evangelist at OutSystems
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