General

The transition to digital technology has disrupted nearly every industry. In today’s marketplace, change is no longer optional. Organizations that fail to embrace the digital transformation of business simply can’t compete. Some companies have attempted to move towards digital technologies, only to see their projects fail. Unfortunately, they took a technology-centric approach to convert their business practices. But successful digital transformation isn’t determined by your technology or your strategy – it is determined by the people who make up your business.

The power of human capital

The secret to successfully shifting organizational culture is the same whether you want to improve engagement levels or enhance digital prowess: strong, inspirational leadership at every level of the organization. From the top down, your management team must be capable of making a business case, influencing culture, and connecting with employees on a personal level. With the right leadership, transparent communication, and a strong focus on business solutions, your company’s transition to the digital world is sure to be a win.

Including the right internal resources

One of the biggest mistakes that transformation teams make is not having enough of the right internal people in the mix. The digital transformation of business appears, at first glance, to fall squarely in the IT department’s span of control. Though technology professionals play a critical role, there are a variety of additional internal resources that must be included in your project team. For example, you must enlist assistance from leaders with decision-making authority on operations, quality, and budgeting. Nothing slows a team down more than spending weeks developing a solution that doesn’t meet the needs of the business.

The most effective transformation teams understand that a collaborative approach is the best way to ensure all staff members are on-board. Enlist help from highly-engaged staff members at every level of the organization to take ownership of the digital transition. These early adopters are the first to test new technology, and they can be relied upon to train and encourage their colleagues. By including these individuals on the project team, the transition moves quickly and efficiently through the organization with minimal resistance.

Creating the most effective partnerships

Partners from outside the organization are critical to your success. Of course, this depends on the experience and expertise they bring to the table. Yours is not the first company to move towards digital transformation, and there is no need to reinvent the wheel. Connect with subject matter experts that have developed solutions for a variety of businesses similar to yours. These specialists make it easy to bridge the gap between technology and its deployment.

When engaging partners from outside the organization, thoroughly vet prospects as you would any other business relationship. You are making a significant investment in digital technology, and these individuals can dramatically influence your eventual ROI. Examine previous projects and gain a deep understanding of their successes and failures with other companies. Determine whether potential partners have appropriate capabilities for organizations that are similar in size and volume.

Depending on the product or service you offer and the clientele you serve, your needs will be markedly different. Make sure prospective partners have the experience and expertise required to create solutions that are right for your business.

Learn more about moving your business to the digital world – explore our services and products at www.leappoint.com.

In the workplace, change means progress, new technology, business growth, and increased productivity. But if poorly managed, change can only lead to one thing…employee burnout. What can you do to prevent change burnout and ensure sustainable results? Given the rush to digital transformation across all industries these days, the answer may surprise you – slow down.

In the fitness industry, there’s a widely known training method called Time Under Tension (or TUT for short). It is commonly used in strengthening, conditioning and bodybuilding – all of which involve changing one’s physiology. TUT refers to how long a muscle is under strain during a set. While you may see people at the gym powering through their training with heavy weights and be tempted to replicate their method, the idea of TUT is to think in slow motion – intentionally slow your workouts down to activate your muscles, focus on form, and prevent injuries. By taking the slow and steady path, and evolving your strategy once you pass specific benchmarks, you increase your odds of sustaining your new lifestyle and achieving your goals.

Similarly, a paced and steady path is crucial for effective change management. Technology has transformed every industry, and there’s an increasing pressure to keep up or be left behind. This triggers a knee-jerk reaction to seek change and implement it as quickly as possible. But just like people in the gym who are seeking fast results through heavy lifting, if you push for change too rapidly and without a phased plan of action, you’re likely going to hurt your progress and productivity. So what can you do to ensure smooth and successful transitions within your organization and avoid burnout? Here are 6 tips to follow:

1. Be transparent

When you realize change is necessary, be open with your employees about what needs to change. You’re likely making these changes to benefit those involved, so why keep your team in the dark? Before starting any implementation, hold a meeting to explain what the changes will look like, how and when they will take place, and the anticipated benefits. With open communication, employees are more likely to feel like valued members of the organization.

2. Listen

Digital leaders need a pulse on their organization’s baseline culture in order to recognize shifts in morale and other signs of change saturation. You hired your employees because they are smart, capable, and bring unique skills and perspectives to the table. So create opportunities for them to share their experiences and listen. At least as important as holding a meeting before implementing change is having regular follow-up sessions to keep your employees aware of progress as it unfolds and listen for potential signs of burnout. This time also provides space for employees to share their frustrations and concerns, find solutions, and feel “heard.”

3. Understand the impact change has on your workforce

Any significant change in the workplace can mean more stress for your employees – this can lead to poor performance and employee burnout. In fact, stress over organizational changes has been found to lower the average employee’s performance and engagement. Having a manager who understands the burden that change places on their employees and who encourages them to cope with that stress in healthy ways helps prevent burnout while promoting loyalty and a sense of comradery during transitional periods.

4. Reward champions of change

Adapting to change isn’t easy. But it’s made a little bit easier by encouragers and leaders within the team who step up to the plate when the process gets tough. Have you noticed certain employees going above and beyond to help others adjust to a new transition, share their knowledge, and support their teammates? Publicly reward those employees in unique ways (it doesn’t necessarily have to be in monetary form!) The reward matters less than the genuine expression of gratitude to your employees.

5. Delegate tasks

Significant workplace change may call for new roles to increase the odds of a smooth transition. To avoid overwhelming one or two employees, evenly distribute tasks associated with the change across your team, and publicly announce these change-related roles. This will give employees a personal investment in making the change a success and create a shared sense of having some skin in the game.

6. Publically post metrics and goals

Change in the workplace is hard enough. Don’t waste your team’s precious time tracking down information, instructions, and resources necessary to successfully adjust. Keep your goals and metrics accessible. Technologies and services are available to help your organization’s leaders post directions, processes, and helpful resources facilitate smooth transitions.

LeapPoint is growing! We’re especially excited to welcome and introduce two of our newest team members – Jessalyn Klein, Ph.D., and Naseer Rashid.  Read on and get to know them and how they’re contributing to LeapPoint and our clients.

Meet Jessalyn Klein, Ph.D.

 

Jessalyn Klein is a licensed psychologist who works with individual employees, teams, and business leaders to enhance performance by aligning people with goals for change. Convinced that people are growth-oriented, Jessalyn drives them toward their potential with a compassionate yet challenging consultation that enables them to embrace more effective ways of being and working. Her collaborative approach leverages the LeapPoint team to help clients identify and adopt advancements in process and technology.

In addition to eight years as a psychotherapist, Jessalyn spearheaded the strategic planning, implementation, and evaluation phases of a comprehensive mental health program for a large university. Jessalyn has supported LeapPoint learning and development for two years and now leads the company’s growing change management practice, drawing from her experience driving change at individual, group and organizational levels. Jessalyn holds a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from University at Buffalo.

 

Meet Naseer Rashid

 

Naseer Rashid is a Marketing Transformation Technology Manager at LeapPoint who drives enterprise transformation by partnering with executives and lending them his in-depth knowledge to effectively target and connect with their key audiences through the right content and tools.

Throughout his career, he has held various roles in the marketing technology space – from HR Communications to back-end development. Additionally, he has worked in a number of industries including biotechnology, financial services, government, and software, helping Naseer build an extensive understanding of customer needs and develop an actionable path to success. Naseer holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Systems Engineering and Operations Research from George Mason University.

Recently, Adobe announced its 4.75 billion dollar purchase of Marketo – an investment that should move Adobe into a B2B marketing leadership position. Already a powerhouse in the marketing industry, Adobe Experience Cloud is setting the stage for domination with this purchase, but the real question remains – will you benefit?

Adobe Experience Cloud

Adobe’s Experience Cloud was launched in 2017, with the company rebranding its Marketing Cloud as one of three sub-clouds – the other two being Adobe’s Analytics Cloud and Advertising Cloud. Some of the most impressive features of Adobe Experience include the Visitor ID service, which is vital to core operations and integration ability, Dynamic Tag Manager, which supports tools for Adobe functions as well as Nielsen and Google, and Device Co-op, which is a device graph that promotes understanding of customer behavior. Adobe Experience Cloud is relatively new but has already established itself as a competitive player in cloud computing.

Marketo

Marketo is a SaaS marketing automation platform that B2B marketers find essential in building campaigns and making sales strategies operational. Sales reps use the system to understand business prospects’ behavior, while marketing executives use it to link marketing investments to the sales process and revenue generation. Marketo offers software features that allow lead management, lead scoring, mobile marketing, and website personalization, among other features. Marketo has positioned itself as a leader in B2B marketing automation, a position that Adobe Experience Cloud can only enhance.

What’s in it for you?

Since Adobe acquired Marketo rather than a company with their own CRM to push, you will continue to be able to connect any significant CRM to the platform. This means that users will benefit from having all the Adobe tools at hand without being forced to make a major, and possibly disruptive, CRM switch. Joining the Adobe Experience Cloud adds powerful, advanced capabilities to Marketo. Leveraging the market-leading platform allows Marketo to enhance its strengths in mobile marketing and personalization while taking advantage of industry-leading analytics- an area in which Marketo customers have felt frustration in the past. Marketo’s B2B users will also benefit in several ways, including through its personalization engine. These Adobe tools will particularly help B2B shops that have some B2C features in their business. Marketo was already working to strengthen this aspect of their business, the Adobe purchase immediately sends them to the head of the class, leapfrogging over their competitors.

The purchase of Marketo by Adobe Experience Cloud promises better service for users of both services. Adobe Experience has the B2C market handled with numerous easy-to-use tools that can only enhance Marketo’s B2B prowess. The combination of these marketing powerhouses means that you can have the best of both worlds, keeping your favorite functions while gaining even more effective marketing features for your clients’ use.

Only time will tell the exact impact of this purchase, but you and other people in the industry have every reason to expect better service all around. The combination of these two industry leaders promises to give you groundbreaking platform power.

While many companies are moving toward DevOps processes and tools that fit that framework, few are actually implementing the workflow with the fidelity needed to make teams more productive, according to a Thursday report from 2nd Watch.

Implementing DevOps means fundamentally changing your software engineering process. As with any change of process, success depends on how well the people making the change embrace the principles of the new approach. If people reject, subvert, or undermine the DevOps philosophy, it will fail. Here are six of the most common reasons for DevOps failure, along with tips to increase your chance of success.

1. Creating a traditional “DevOps Department”

78% of the 1,000 IT professionals surveyed said that their organizations continue to have separate teams for managing infrastructure/operations and development—meaning that DevOps is still not fully underway. DevOps involves a collaboration between development, operations, and quality assurance teams. Creating a traditional DevOps department misses the point of making a transition to a DevOps mindset, and is likely to simply add more red tape to existing processes.

This is the opposite of what DevOps should accomplish. Yes, a DevOps implementation requires leadership, but that’s not the same thing as traditional, department-based management. Your DevOps strategy should be implemented as a framework in which your development and operations staff can begin to interoperate, not as a new department that’s tasked with overseeing these disparate groups and somehow forcing them to work together. Focus on getting teams to improve their communication with people working in other departments. In this way, it is possible to assign tasks to the right teams so that every task is completed at the correct point in the overall project workflow.

2. Failing to properly consider staff workloads and other resources

If your developers are already overworked, this might not be the best time to start a dramatic overhaul of their working processes. Before you spring a DevOps implementation on your team, take the time to quantify their workloads and measure performance metrics, so you can see whether individuals are coping with the demands your organization places on them. If you come across an unmanageable boost in workload, you can either re-prioritize the workload or hire new resources to address the staff shortage before you can start your DevOps implementation.

3. Setting unrealistic goals

Never underestimate how big a culture shock DevOps can be in an organization that currently uses a silo structure. You cannot expect everyone to immediately adapt to the change and deliver excellent performance from day one. Be realistic about how long a DevOps implementation is likely to take and set short-term and long-term goals accordingly. And remember: The larger your enterprise is, the longer this transformation is going to take.

4. Creating “hybrid” DevOps while keeping old structures

Some organizations try to reduce the culture shock of DevOps implementation by keeping the business’s old structures intact. However, giving into pushback from developers in this way can undermine the implementation. Rather than keeping the old culture intact, one solution is to build a true hybrid structure that keeps IT operations and development teams in their traditional silos but implements an agile methodology.

5. Misunderstanding the role of business owners

The role of a business owner is to make top-level strategic decisions about the way in which the business is run. It is not to micromanage everything that goes on in the company. While a business owner can decide that the company would benefit from implementing DevOps, they cannot always control how individuals and teams put the principles of DevOps into practice. Rather than trying to impose a new way of doing things, business owners should be willing to listen to the concerns of developers and IT operations employees and find solutions that help them to work more effectively within a DevOps framework.

6. Not embracing a culture where failure is tolerated

Transitioning to DevOps is, first, a cultural shift, and then a process and organizational shift. If you’re considering DevOps simply because “it’s the future”, rather than out of a desire to fundamentally rebuild and improve your business processes, success is highly unlikely.

A key part of the DevOps methodology is failure. Developers should not be afraid to admit to mistakes, particularly when talking about failures could be a vital learning experience for the whole team. When implementing DevOps, be sure to nurture a culture where failure is tolerated.

Unlike the traditional or “waterfall” method of software development, the agile approach does not treat analysis, design, coding, and testing as discrete phases in a development project. Agile has quickly become the standard methodology as businesses see the many advantages of adopting a more flexible approach to software development.

With testing integrated into the development process from day one, agile development often leads to higher quality products, as well as reducing risk. However, making the switch from waterfall to agile can be tricky. Many development teams end up awkwardly straddling the fence between the two approaches, which can make it difficult to effectively manage resources.

To root out any bad habits that carried over when your development team made the switch from waterfall to agile, look out for these warning signs that your team isn’t as agile as you think.

1. No sprint retrospectives

sprint retrospective is a meeting that occurs after a one-month development sprint. Usually held once a month, this is an opportunity for teams to discuss what worked well in the sprint, what could be improved, and what the team will commit to doing differently in the next sprint.

If your team does not hold sprint retrospectives, you are missing out on a valuable opportunity to change work processes in order to improve the quality of the end product. Holding no sprint retrospectives means that problems persist throughout the development process, exposing your business to the risks of waterfall methodology.

2. Long stand-up meetings

Many people resist adopting agile methodology because they think they will spend too much time in meetings. While it’s true that agile development involves a daily stand-up meeting, these should be kept short to avoid eating into everyone’s work time. In fact, the name stand-up comes from the idea that people should literally stand during these meetings so they have an incentive not to let them drag on too long. To avoid stand-up meetings overrunning, have someone with good facilitation skills lead the meeting.

3. Improper product backlog management

product backlog is a list of all the work that needs to be done for a particular product, ordered to prioritize the most important tasks. Sometimes, backlogs can become so large they are difficult to work with. In that case, you need to break the backlog down into short-term and long-term items to make it easier to manage.

4. Failure to deliver product increments after each sprint

One of the principles of agile is that working software is the primary measure of progress. If your team does not deliver a product increment after each spring, that is a warning sign that you are slipping back into waterfall methodology.

5. Urgent tasks that interrupt workflow

When you use the agile approach, your workflows should be regularly adapted to prioritize the most important tasks. If urgent tasks frequently come up and throw your workflow into disarray, that is a sign that the team hasn’t done enough planning to anticipate the upcoming demands of the project. This might be because they are hanging onto waterfall ways of working, such as setting out a roadmap at the beginning of the project and failing to reassess it often enough during sprint retrospectives and daily stand-ups.

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