Digital Strategy Implementation: Rent vs. Buy Skills

We previously talked about implementing a multi-speed engine to facilitate a quicker digital strategy for organizations with entrenched legacy systems. In the final post, we focus on evaluating resources and leaning on experts for a jump-start on digital.

Part ten of a series

Digital requires specific skills that most organizations don’t have enough of today. Knowledge of rapidly changing technologies isn’t enough. It’s also critical to have the experience in applying those technologies into working business models. Few organizations – except for the largest, of course – have all of the necessary skills or internal expertise to create a successful digital strategy roadmap, which will likely require building new processes and technologies. Having experienced resources that have ‘done this before’ can prove invaluable in avoiding mistakes and increasing results.

Evaluating Digital Knowledge, Skills & Resources

As you embark on your digital journey, consider the following human capital components:

  • Inventory the skills required for key technologies – and assess related resources – that are necessary to deliver on your digital vision. Of your employees, who has the necessary skills, or the desire to learn new skills and work in a fast-speed engine?
  • Determine the skills you’ll want to employ in-house vs. niche skills or temporary needs that  make sense for consultants or contractors to tackle.
  • Consider sourcing options to fill gaps in resources: hiring or renting. Ask yourself: Which key skills can be rented and later transitioned – or used to train internal team members? Timing comes into play. As you are piloting new processes or applications, you may choose to rent key positions to get there faster and seed your teams. Often these can be acquired faster than hiring. It’s key to set expectations around training your staff and create transition plans as part of consulting engagements.
  • Adjust sourcing processes to support this level and type of procurement. And, consider working with smaller, niche firms vs. the few, large vendors on your approved vendor list.
  • Upgrade talent management processes to hire and retain critical digital skills. Often these employees may be younger and motivated differently than your existing employees. The war for talent is real in the digital space.
  • Create an ongoing digital skills assessment process to periodically assess technological changes and resourcing strategies. Expect to make adjustments as you go.
  • Investigate alternative avenues to acquiring skills such as acquisition of start-up companies or partnering with higher education programs.
  • Assess digital competencies desired in the broader organization beyond your digital team – and develop programs to lead the transformation of the broader workforce to digital.

Tapping Savvy Digital Leaders to Coach Teams

A final word about your team. Implementing your digital strategy requires significant change management. The leadership in both technical and business roles is crucial for making this transformation happen. Pick individuals that know your business and can envision a digital world beyond how you’ve always done it. They should be able to work collaboratively to influence and teach their peers, while tirelessly coaching and mentoring their teams through the ambiguity. Ideally, your leaders will know your industry and business as well as understand digital technology.  You probably don’t have enough of these people, so seed your leadership team with new players that bring fresh perspectives to enhancing your company’s digital presence.

Finding Your Place on the Digital Strategy Continuum

In developing your digital strategy, acknowledge where you are on the digital strategy continuum – and consider the ten components we covered in this blog series. Address each component, to the extent necessary,  to achieve your business goals while growing in digital maturity.

Read the Series

John Zink, Digital Strategy, Skills & Resources, Project Methodologies, Leadership

John Zink is the Digital Strategy Practice Lead for Centric Consulting, responsible for client engagements, project methodologies and practices. He is passionate about aligning Digital Strategy with the overall business objectives and helping clients deliver change by leveraging enabling digital technologies.

John spent 13 years with a Big 4 Consulting firm and over 15 years in IT and Financial Service operations executive leadership positions. His experience in living on both sides of the business operations and technology spectrum in organizations provides him with a unique perspective that bridges the often too-wide gap in how these stakeholders look at their businesses and digital opportunities.


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