Lessons from a digital transformation

Architecture, engineering and construction companies are experimenting with new ways to become digital organizations. Many companies are exploring new systems or tools, but planning and implementing a true digital transformation requires more than technology. Businesses must reinvent how they operate, what the day-to-day looks like for their teams and where they search for new opportunities to grow.

To better serve our clients as they embark on their journeys, Arcadis has committed to our own digital transformation. Earlier this year, an independent research firm named us a leading provider of Digital EHS services. Additionally, the Environmental Business Journal recently recognized three Arcadis initiatives for delivering innovative and technologically advanced solutions. These achievements gave us an opportunity to reflect on how far we have come.

Our digital transformation has been an eye-opening and rewarding learning experience. In the spirit of sharing best practices, I've included some of our lessons learned below.

  • Evaluate your digital journey honestly
    Look at your organization objectively. You need to determine where you are and how flexible your organization is before you can make progress. Installing a system or consolidating software is one step, but true transformation is more comprehensive. How open are your employees to innovating and thinking outside the box? How willing are they to learn new skills? Does your leadership allow for experimentation and even failure?

    These questions help foster a culture that embraces new ideas, fails fast and tests creative solutions. Continuous improvement and agility equip you to solve your customers’ emerging needs first.
  • Focus on customer experience
    Digital transformation is about addressing your internal capabilities to improve customer experience. Look at your customers’ challenges and obstacles. Why don’t they have the data they need? Dig deeper into their problem and then make it yours. When you eliminate obstacles and barriers in your organization, you’re better equipped to help customers eliminate theirs.
  • Enable your workforce with scalable digital solutions
    Every company has pockets of excellence. Certain projects serve as pride points for the entire organization and are referenced time and time again. But blue-ribbon projects take ample time and resources to create detailed, customized and highly-specialized outcomes. It’s difficult to apply that intensive process to all of your projects. You may have talented individuals across your organization, but even the most talented teams might not have the bandwidth or resources to deliver fully customized solutions on every project.

    Instead of focusing on the pockets, look for elements of successful projects that other teams can replicate. Can you find a common denominator and then build a solution that gets most projects 80 percent there? Doing so would give teams a head start, require less work and still allow employees to customize that final 20 percent to the customer’s specific values and goals.

    Similarly, it can be tempting to focus on the low-hanging fruit, or projects that could be easily upgraded and modernized. While these opportunities should be addressed, they should only serve as short-term deliverables and not long-term benchmarks of success. Digital transformation calls for continuous growth and movement, and it is essential to keep sight of where your organization needs to go.
  • Continually improve and refine
    A digital transformation is not a destination. There is no one KPI that indicates a complete transformation. It requires continuous self-assessment, evaluation, testing and improvement. When we looked back at what we could have done differently, we acknowledged that we spent a lot of time focused on internal business lines and organizational structure. We believed that if we could operate internally the way our clients view us externally, then we could move faster and start helping our clients sooner. Instead of marking this “lesson learned” as a failure, we embraced it as a new way of operating and moved forward.

As we continue along our transformation journey, we will undoubtedly continue to learn from our mistakes and successes. If you have any recommendations or observations that you would like to share from your own experience, please let us know. We’re excited to gather and share best practices in order to continue improving our client experience.

Monica Dupre

Digital & Analytics Lead Ask me a question