Practical Tips for Digital Transformation Planning for L&D

digital transformation planning

As the speed of business continues to pick up and global events keep proving how vital an agile business model is to success, organizational leaders are starting to place increasing emphasis on the achievement of digital transformation.

For L&D, the trend of digital transformation is more significant than ever. Corporate learning teams are far more entwined with the strategy and success of the business than ever before. So digital transformation of learning provides a unique opportunity for L&D to place themselves at the forefront of the organization’s movement towards a more sustainable and competitive business model.

However, planning digital transformation for L&D is not without its challenges. Finding a practical and efficient approach that can be applied to your organization’s unique structure and processes is critical to success. 

For a practical approach to digital transformation in L&D, register for this upcoming webinar with senior learning strategist, Bianca Baumann:
Digitize This: Your Essential Framework for Digital Transformation in L&D

What is Digital Transformation?

There is a misconception that digital transformation is all about “out with the old and in with the new” – and all in one fell swoop.

In fact, digital transformation is about replacing inefficiencies with a streamlined approach with technology at the helm. The aim is to create a culture of innovation and creative thinking so that the business can better serve its customers, operate more efficiently, and capitalize on change rather than shrinking away from it.

With that said, it’s not surprising that the events of 2020 led to a renewed focus on digital transformation planning, especially at the executive level. A report by McKinsey in 2020 found that 38% of executives were planning to invest in technology to increase the company’s competitive advantage in that area. 

When it comes to the practicalities of what digital transformation should look like, answers included:

  • Enabling increased productivity through tools
  • Better data visibility to manage business performance
  • Meet the experience expectations of customers

So how can learning leaders take these deliverables and apply them to the digital transformation of learning?

How to Plan & Analyze

Considerations: People, Processes, Technology

Digital transformation is about much more than introducing new technology. It’s about finding ways for your people to integrate technology into their processes for increased efficiency and improved outcomes.

For example, a tool which ends up making a process more intricate, confusing, and time consuming is not ideal. Instead, it’s important to connect with the people on your team to analyze how they currently do things and how technology might vastly improve those processes.

On the learner side, the same questions apply. How can new digital learning solutions improve the outcomes and experiences of your learning audience? 

The result should be a learning department that can respond quickly to organizational change, produce training faster, and create learning experiences of greater benefit to learners and to the organization as a whole. 

Current State Mapping

Like any strategy, your plan for digital transformation in L&D should begin with establishing your current state.

Take the time to delve into the specifics of where your technology adoption and integration currently stands. Perhaps you have tools and technology available, but teams are still turning to spreadsheets to plan and execute their work. Or there are lots of manual processes happening which could easily be optimized. If you’re still relying on classroom-based training, how much of it would be more effective if transitioned to eLearning?

Once you have a full picture of where technology is currently used (and where it is not), you can start to analyze how this may be slowing your team down or how it may be negatively impacting learning outcomes.

The digital transformation planning and analyzing stage will require input from multiple stakeholders. Gather the information through surveys, interviews, data, or however you can to create as comprehensive a view as possible of your current state.

learning advisory committee

Analysis & Recommendations

Once you fully understand the current state, it’s time to create goals for your digital transformation strategy:

  • What needs improvement
  • Why is this improvement important 
  • How are you going to improve it
  • What is the ideal solution and what tools and technology exist to help you reach it

On a more granular level, you need to establish:

  • Specific initiatives that should be undertaken
  • How you will divide budget between these initiatives
  • The priority level of each initiative 

Creating a Timeline for Digital Transformation 

While your timeline for adopting digital transformation initiatives may largely depend on your budget, there are some other considerations to take into account.

For example, digital transformation often requires a massive cultural shift, both for your learning team and your learners. So it’s important to create an appetite for change without overwhelming your team and ensure you’re progressing towards that cultural shift at each stage in the digital transformation journey.

Your prioritization of digital transformation initiatives will also play a part in how you develop your timeline. Regardless of how extensive your strategy is, some key considerations include:

  • Is this timeline achievable?
  • What resources will be needed for each initiative?
  • What are the availability of those resources at a project/initiative level?
  • Are there any dependencies between initiatives to take into account?

The Bottom Line

Depending on your current state, digital transformation of learning can be a long, ongoing project. But, as technology evolves, it’s also a project that will never be fully complete. To maintain the competitive advantage of digital maturity, organizations need to ensure a culture of constant adaptation is embedded into processes or risk that their digital transformation efforts become quickly outdated.

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