Look, listen, act: the three steps to digital transformation

Abstract image for digital transformation
Image: Suchat Longthara | Dreamstime.com

What’s the best way to approach and achieve digital transformation? Do you need new technology or not? Michelle Zompi and Malak Abdelmoaty of RLB Digital reveal their three steps to success.

If you attended Digital Construction Week, you may have seen us play a game of snakes and ladders with the audience in the Transformation Hub. Yes, you read that right. No, this wasn’t just a collaborative moment of corporate downtime; it was our way of illustrating how buying new software isn’t always the quickest and best approach to digital transformation.

We know as providers of digital services within the built environment, even when new software is the right answer, you need to assess what you are trying to achieve, give yourself time to figure out what you need it to do, and factor in testing and implementation windows. Shifting time and focus to planning will really help you to make the right decisions. So, we always advise a three-pronged strategy of look, listen, act.

Michelle Zompi of RLB Digital

“Your people are your guide. Make sure your engagement is wide and accommodates all relevant stakeholders.”

Michelle Zompi


  1. Conduct an audit of what software you already have. Ask questions such as who is it used by and for what purposes? What customisations have been applied by your teams? Have they started to use other tools, and if so, why? What gaps were they addressing?
  2. Is your current software up to date? Have there been releases that would be beneficial?
  3. Look at your findings: do you have multiple software doing the same/similar things? What can you do to consolidate them?
  4. Think about your data strategy: do you have one and is it being applied? Often by mapping your data fields and where they are managed will allow you to see your discrepancies and duplications. 


You need to understand your customer base:

  • One of the biggest ways to succeed is to listen – your people are your guide. Make sure your engagement is wide and accommodates all relevant stakeholders, including end-users.
  • Ask all stakeholders to input – not just a commercial team, or an IT team, as everyone’s needs will differ. The people using your software will make it a success or not, so they should be informing you as to what they need to perform their roles. Focus on their needs: what’s needed, by whom and why?
  • Understanding your user base fully – this isn’t just what works and what doesn’t, but what other things they need to allow them to work. For example, do they need to be able to work offline or do they need to be working in dark mode? Understanding real/true usage will help you to properly inform the requirements for any given software.
  • Recognise that you will still face challenges – how stakeholders respond and interact will vary and you might not always get what you are after. Perseverance is key to this process and understanding that you will always have supporters: Luddites and others who are on the fence will allow you to adjust expectations and techniques when dealing with different stakeholders.
  • Need for additional support – there is also the need for strong representation from your side as you go through this exercise, to cover all aspects related to people, process and technology. This could be in the form of skilled business analysts who are experts in unpicking problems and understanding the why, what, who and how, as well as technical individuals, where possible, from IT. Data or digital experts will also help unearth some of the requirements or identify some risks or constraints related to the technology pillar.  
Malak Abdelmoaty of RLB Digital

“How stakeholders respond and interact will vary and you might not always get what you are after. Perseverance is key to this process.”

Malak Abdelmoaty


By now you should have successfully identified and engaged your stakeholder groups, understood their influence, mapped their detailed requirements, and played it back to them and you are all in agreement and know exactly what you need.  

This next phase of action for digital transformation is what can make or break your journey. Understanding what you need is crucially important, but knowing how to act on it is even more important.

  • Engagement of vendors and implementation partners now you need a framework and methodology that can help you engage vendors and implementation partners. Ensure you undertake due diligence and have a clear set of objectives, KPIs and clearly articulated success criteria and measures in place.
  • Build vs buy assessment – always start with the question, “Should we build, or should we buy?” Work through how each scenario impacts your people and process. Do we need to hire new specialists? Do we need to upskill users? How much time and effort would be involved? What does the cost/benefit analysis look like? Will we need to change our processes to adapt to this new software? Can we even change our processes? What is the licensing agreement? Who owns the data? Where will my data be stored? Will I be able to access the raw data? What is the likely return on investment? What is the support and maintenance model behind each option?
  • Keep the core clean software companies have created their solutions with a degree of configurability, but the trap many fall into is expecting way more from that piece of software and injecting more money and time with the provider to try to bend it further, but they very rarely get to the desired outcome. This is where keeping the core clean comes into play. Software companies are starting to realise and focus more on integration, and we have seen lots of investment and evolvement of APIs in more recent years.
  • Implement a change management process – remember that to implement change, you will need to plan for it, so having a change management process will be crucial in the success of the process. Draw out your personas, your process maps, your timelines and have a detailed implementation readiness plan that considers each element, and how you would go about changing it.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate – having regular and clear communications, setting the expectations for the users and taking them on a journey, while ensuring each piece is tailored to the different stakeholder groups, using different methods and channels, with defined timelines and outcomes, will make the change and adoption process a lot easier. Training material in different formats to cater for people’s different learning needs is a key part of this process.
  • Lessons learned – reflect and run a lessons-learned exercise, to see what’s worked and what hasn’t and what you can improve in the future. Monitor and measure progress and performance regularly, speak to your users and listen to their feedback. This is the only guarantee of continuous improvement and success.

And finally…

There is certainly a business case for procuring new software at some stages of your digital transformation journey, but it is not the panacea to all your digital solutions. Although technology is advancing at pace, taking your time and assessing, analysing and really understanding the need in your business could make the difference between a loss leader or a great return on investment and failure or success in your digital transformation.

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