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Digital transformation – do we really need it?

Digital transformation is crucial in the ability to stay relevant in any industry. As technology moves the world forward, it’s important for businesses to move with it otherwise it risks losing out on opportunities, broader audiences, and successful marketing and sales.

At the root of it, digital transformation is the integration of new technology into systems and strategies in a business. This results in more efficiency and a better system overall within the company. With digital transformation driving systems forward in an organisation, customer support and value offering improves too, which helps advance the business in both the ability to market itself and offer the best products successfully.

Is digital transformation important?

The short answer – yes absolutely!

The longer answer – it’s crucial for a company, especially if involved in the online space or in any tech industry, to adopt and implement digital strategies into its operations to stay as efficient as possible and offer customers the best at the end of the day. Here’s why digital transformation is important: 

Offering on-demand and fulfilling instant expectations

Customer service is – and should be treated as – the backbone of the success of a customer-related business. Building a loyal customer base relies on offering them the best and treating them as valuable individuals rather than a price tag. 

Integrating digital solutions to improve customer relations through streamlined systems is one way to promote positive customer service. 

In this case, working with the information technology and dev departments is essential and improving and scaling systems sustainably is important to develop the right processes which can last and evolve as the business grows.

Efficiency and employee operations

Digital transformation in the form of tools and systems can make a remarkable difference in offering easier systems for employees to work with. 

Better software can mean more room for productvitity – but only when implemented correctly. Small transitions with training and active communication are crucial for any digital transformation to be successful. The right digital tools can help administer convenience across all departments from finance to HR, project management to operations.

Data and customer security

Security is one of the consumer’s biggest points of concern when shopping or engaging online. If a company can offer a strong sense of security in their systems, focusing on updating their strategies and maintaining protocols and processes, there will likely be more loyalty and customer retainment. 

This is where digital transformation takes a step towards smart technology, with tools such as artificial intelligence and machine learning. As this technology is becoming more and more widely accessible, companies would benefit from exploring and considering rolling out the tech in a smooth, secure way to capture security as a focus point.

Easier communication and strong business partnership

Starting internally, a company’s communication systems can be enhanced incredibly by making use of digital software. With tools that are able to adapt to the company’s culture and scale as the business grows, it can save a lot of time and effort having the right lines in place for employees and management to communicate clearly across their teams.

From there, communication and partnership growth can be improved through digital software. This leaves more time to actively seek new avenues in the business. For example, a retail-focused company could partner with a tech business to offer a new product.

Digital transformation in your business

Taking the right approach to digital transformation is crucial in a successful implementation. Taking a digital program to explore the practical and theoretical strategies to lead your business to a more digital platform puts you in good stead to ensure systems run smoothly and the digital disruption doesn’t cause chaos. 

Four Vital Digital Transformation Domains

Digital transformation is more than just “digitising” operations in a business. It requires talent, coordination, cooperation and a team dedicated to driving change. But not just any change – a shift in the company in a way that the future of the organisation sees real long-term benefits.

The digital transformation in a company happens across all different departments but it occurs in four different domains or elements within each department. The right strategy takes each domain and makes small, powerful changes to align the different domains and the changes happening.

The four Digital Transformation Domains are:

Technology

Understanding technology and the immense benefits it can bring takes insight and knowledge. Aspects of new tech, such as the Internet of Things, blockchain, and AI, are still complex to many and the implementation of it requires careful consideration. 

However, when technology is adapted correctly into a business, it can contribute significant transformational opportunities which can lead to better systems, smoother operations and a better allocation of human resources. 

For technology to help drive digital transformation, it’s important for the relevant department – such as the IT team – to have the time and resources to work on helping implement the right tools. If the IT department is tasked with making sure urgent operations to keep systems running and don’t break, digital transformation will be a long arduous process. However, if they’re awarded the time to work on improving operations through new tech, the future of the company will enjoy the longer-term benefits.

Data

Possibly unsurprisingly – most companies today aren’t able to say with confidence that their data standards are up to scratch. This is mainly because of a lack of priorities in the field. With basic quality, security and analytics, data maintenance can be a breeze. Digital transformation in this domain requires placing individuals into the proper roles with carefully considered responsibilities. 

With focus, the digital transformation of data can become qualitative and reduce the resources needed to work through it. It means ensuring that there’s a team with a combination of both broad and deep knowledge in the field to set up the right practices that the whole company can work with.

Process

All transformation, whether digital or others, requires a shift in thinking and practices. It means looking at what you want to achieve and working back to how that can happen as seamlessly as possible. If an overhaul is necessary, it might be worthwhile dismantling systems to rebuild them to go forward with the objectives in mind.

Setting up the right processes means looking at how all systems work together and fitting in a shift aligned with the end-goal.

Organisational change

Digital transformation – a successful one at least – requires the buy-in from the individuals in the organisation. People don’t often like change – especially if they don’t understand it. So careful navigation of this is crucial. 

Organisation change in digital transformation means looking at the culture of the company and how a digital transformation might affect this or how it might need to shift. This domain requires strong leadership skills, excellent communication, and a quality change management strategy. 

Setting up the systems and developing the skillset

To have the best digital transformation or chances at setting up changes in your company, give yourself the best chance. Through research, online learning about digital transformation, and investigation of how best to implement change, you are more likely to see success!

The five main areas of Human Resources

Without the employees, an organisation wouldn’t be able to operate. A staff force is necessary to handle product development, content creation, service management, customer support, marketing, finance, administration, logistics and anything you might be able to name. Because of how important the employees are in an organisation, the team behind looking after the employees is just as crucial to get right. Having the right Human Resources and HR management can help bring out the best in a team and scale and grow an organisation effectively.

Human Resource management has different areas to operate within and work in to ensure the right staff is hired, the current staff members are looked after, supported, and the wrong behaviour is appropriately responded to. 

The five main areas of HR management are:

Hiring, recruitment and onboarding

This is arguably the most important area in Human Resource Management. Hiring the right staff to fit the company beyond just the job description is crucial for company culture and the overall wellbeing of the team’s atmosphere. With a good team working well together, systems tend to run more smoothly, productivity lives at peak performance and people operate beyond their duties. To recruit effectively and ensure the right candidates are hired, the HR team must:

  • Understand the company culture and values of the organisation;
  • Align the job specifications with the needs of the department;
  • Advertise job openings and schedule interviews with suitable candidates;
  • Perform background checks and reviews for the selected candidates;
  • Send letters of confirmation to selected candidates and issue rejection letter to unsuccessful applications;
  • Ensure the onboarding process is conducted with the relevant departments for the role. This leads to necessary paperwork, training and induction to the company.

Training and development

The Human Resources Management department is responsible for overseeing that training and development takes place to induct a new hire to the team successfully. These programmes are designed to help the new employee understand the company better and identify where their skills might be put to best use while learning new skills to perform better overall. 

Once training has been completed for the employee, the work of the HR team is not yet complete in this area. It’s important to gather feedback from the new staff member regarding the training and development programme. In this way, it’s easier to identify what aspects of the training work well and where improvements can be made.

Compliance management

Compliance and regulation management is one of the key areas of responsibility that an HR manager must undertake. This helps ensure that the organisation doesn’t face any penalties as a result of failed regulation and audits. The HR department must maintain their knowledge of current laws and changes in regulation, such as wage law, employee benefits law, anti-discrimination and harassment laws. 

Staying updated in this area means the HR processes will remain legal and any compliance audits will go smoothly.

Employee satisfaction

If a staff team finds satisfaction in their work and in the team, there’s much more room for good, productive work culture. This means making sure the culture is healthy as well as looking for opportunities for the employee to grow and develop new skills. 

The employee experience in a workplace is crucial to get right as it can help staff retention and it keeps a positive work environment which leads to open communication and a culture of trust and transparency.

Sustainable and actionable workforce planning

It falls to the Human Resources department to ensure that any goals and objectives of the organisation are consistent. This allows the company to look towards the future and meet any needs that might arise as well as devising strategic approaches to strengthen any areas in the staff dynamic and develop processes that build strong team units. This also helps employee retention and leads to organisation growth.

Developing strong Human Resources management practices

If you’re looking to improve your HR management, consider how to work actionable steps into the above areas within your organisation. Taking a short course in Human Resource Management is also an excellent way to develop and hone your HR skills and build a strong culture in your company!

5 Ways companies can improve their inclusivity & diversity in the workplace

Recent news headlines, and frequent public faux pas, show that corporate South Africa has a long way to go to really action inclusivity & diversity in the workplace.

Diversity and inclusivity have become something of a cliché – boards and management teams talk about them, but how many actually look at them as something that should be measured? Or invested in?

In times of economy downturn, companies tend to hunker down and focus on revenue, margins and gross profit. This International Women’s Day, we’d like to suggest a few things companies can do to ensure diversity and inclusivity initiatives go beyond lip-service.

Before we start, a few key stats help to set the scene:

According to Pipeline’s 2020 ‘Women Count report, “Firms with more female executives ‘perform better’.” In fact, 10 times better. Research shows that London-listed companies were 10 times profitable when women made up more than one in three executive roles.

Ethnically diverse leadership teams are 36 percent more likely to be profitable, a McKinsey study

Another McKinsey report found that companies in the top quartile for both gender and ethnic diversity are 12 percent more likely to outperform all other companies, so any investment should be returned through better business outcomes.

Here’s how businesses can do the right thing, and generate positive returns. 

1. Get company buy-in
The data is here, the facts are here – the business case is there – now get sign off. With that sign-off should come an executive, tasked with driving the company’s diversity and inclusivity (D&I) agenda, a budget with which to do so, and metrics against which D&I will be measured. Organisations need to treat diversity and inclusivity like any other business opportunity – invest in it, develop it, report on it. This shouldn’t just be a values-based focus – it can directly impact your bottom line.

2. Develop a strategic training program
Invest in developing leaders from previously disadvantaged groups – In order to ensure you and your leaders get the best of courses, ensure the courses you select empower people with:

  • Skills in negotiating, coaching and giving feedback
  • Increased confidence in leading and influencing others
  • An understanding of organisations, power and politics
  • Awareness of personal intention and impact
  • A network of colleagues with whom they have a shared powerful experience
  • Self awareness to address detrimental and self sabotaging patterns of thinking and responding

3. Be aware of unconscious bias

Communicate the importance of managing bias across the company – Joelle Emerson in Harvard Business Review suggests that a concern with diversity or unconscious bias training and teaching is that people can become defensive, and using technology can help alleviate that concern. “Training can be designed to reduce defensiveness by explaining that we don’t have unconscious biases because we’re bad people – we have them because we are people,” she explains.

4. Focus on succession

Retention, succession, addressing the skills gap and committing to inclusion are some of the ways organisations can challenge the status quo. Invest from within, empower from within, challenge from within, grow from within to ensure you’re seeing optimal returns. Loyalty to your people will be rewarded.

5. Implement lifelong learning

A digital society is a dynamic one. New technologies will regularly enter the marketplace, creating new skills and new roles as fast as others disappear. Today it is widely accepted that a small proportion of jobs may disappear but more significantly 100% of roles will change. In a skills-based economy, how well you can learn and adapt is more important than what you already know. Yet we continue to make hiring and promotion decisions through interviews and very specific requirements based on years of tenure and past experience in unrelated roles.

Businesses benefit from inclusive and diverse workforces through the variety and depth of ideas and innovation that come from having people with a multitude of backgrounds, experiences and cultural frameworks. A business targeting women that is 80% male-dominated is likely missing out on a lot of what its market wants and needs. By changing the way we approach D&I and treating it as an investment as well as (rather than only) a moral imperative, businesses and our society will thrive.

By Faryn Pearson, Chief Innovation Officer, MasterStart

Source: https://www.all4women.co.za/2207865/leisure/inspiring/5-ways-companies-can-improve-their-inclusivity-diversity

The era of feminine leadership has arrived

COVID-19 has placed demands on people and organisations in almost all aspects of their daily lives. From going online (transforming digitally) to working remotely, and – perhaps most critically – demanding a change in consciousness from leaders across the globe.

The pandemic has not only irrevocably shifted the ‘employee experience’, but also highlighted our need for a more holistic and integrative focus on the life experience.

The world yearns for feminine leadership

As vaccines start to roll out, people continue to grapple with fears for their health and the health of their loved ones. Simultaneously, they are trying to cope with the financial stress that the pandemic has caused, and are worried about salary cuts and job security.

While this stress is understandable, the greatest impact of the pandemic has been on people’s mental and psychological well being. Apart from being in enforced isolation – including facing up to one’s inner self – the emotional strain of contracting the virus and trying to balance family dynamics with everyone being thrown into the same space to work, study and relax, has brought its own challenges.

Additionally, people are having to deal with the immense grief of being unable to say their final goodbyes to loved ones who are dying due to necessary COVID-19 protocols.

These realities have been challenging and painful, but they have also presented a powerful healing opportunity for an unclouded perspective on what the world needs. It is clear that the world and its people yearn for leaders who demonstrate compassion, care, inclusion and empathy while being courageous and resilient.

The yin and yang of feminine and masculine leadership styles

What does this mean for leadership styles and how leaders can remain relevant and navigate teams through this perfect storm?

Much has been written around the impactful and relevant manner in which woman leaders have guided their countries in managing the pandemic. From Germany, led by Chancellor Angela Merkel, to New Zealand, led by Prime Minister Jacinda Arden, and Taiwan, led by President Tsai Ing-wen, globally, woman leaders have been recognised for their humanistic and transformational style of leadership. This leadership style is more consensus-building, caring, open and inclusive as well as more likely to encourage collaboration and participation by others.

The majority of woman leaders tend to display compassion through bonding and nurturing styles. The debate remains open as to whether this is the result of a natural maternal instinct or due to how girls are socialised, but the outcome is generally the same: Woman leaders show up by displaying feminine leadership traits such as caring for the development and wellbeing of others, seeing long term vision and holding psychologically safe spaces for other people.

Research has shown that when women join leadership teams, there is an increase in leadership qualities such as empathy, compassion, communication and collaboration, which then become part of the DNA of those organisations.

Isabel Guerrero, a former VP at the World Bank and now the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Imago Global Grassroots, says: “Studies about the characteristics of female leaders show that the feminine values cooperation over competition; consensus over control; teamwork over hierarchy; intuition and sensing more than the rational.”

It is important to remember, though, that feminine and masculine leadership traits are equally important and inherent in both male and female leaders. The working world has historically positioned masculine leadership traits as more revered, recognised and equivalent to successful outcomes, while simultaneously positioning feminine leadership traits as weak and less relevant or required in the working world.

The current turbulent and challenging times merely underscore the importance, power and relevance of feminine leadership traits as commanding an equal magnitude of respect and appreciation, both within and outside the working world.

Pivoting forward with unifying and nurturing balance

Nelson Mandela shared deep wisdom when he said: “Compassion binds us to one another – not in pity or patronisingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.” Each human has an inherent reason for being, namely to care for each other and our world with all of the gifts we have to offer.

On International Women’s Day, may we be reminded to honour the relevance of our natural feminine leadership traits and their power to unify people precisely when the world is yearning for such leadership. May male leaders be equally open to stepping into their nurturing light, by exercising and building their feminine leadership muscles. This year, let’s take a more active approach to nurturing our feminine leadership traits, and developing strong women leaders in all sectors.

The era of feminine leadership styles taking their place alongside masculine leadership styles to deliver a holistic leadership solution has arrived. May we all collectively embrace our authenticity, to develop a new leadership style that isn’t bound by traditional thinking, but rather builds on the strength of diversity.

By Varsha Morar

Source: https://www.bbrief.co.za/2021/03/08/the-era-of-feminine-leadership-has-arrived/

Risk management in project management

When it comes to project management, the ideal is when systems are streamlined and operations are efficient. Sometimes, though, spanners throw themselves in the works and problems need solving. Having a sound risk management strategy in place helps mitigate problems from causing tremendous damage to the operations and can help maintain smooth systems running.

What is risk management?

In a nutshell, risk management is the process of making decisions that will reduce any adverse effects that risk might cause on a company. 

There are different ways to define risks, but essentially it is anything that might disrupt the efficiency or well-being of the company or employees. A risk required addressing and the method of resolving it depends on the risk itself. For example, some risk management strategies involve accepting the risk and looking for ways to exploit the possible effects, while others look to reduce and avoid the risk entirely from having any effect on the organisation. 

Read more: What are the risk management strategies?

By offering the right attention to protecting a company from risk, the company can prevent the loss or harm from risk. This can be financial, human resource-related or operational. The best outcome is where risk is diminished and business can continue either as normal or, where possible, in a better capacity than before.

What is a risk in business?

At the basics, a risk presents an opportunity for either a loss or gain. When it comes to a loss, we generally refer to the risk as “exposures”. Defective products, unacceptable service, fires, a lack of health and wellbeing in the employees are all exposures. These result in some form of loss to the business operations which requires resolving. A risk that might be a gain is seen as an opportunity. Some financial risks could result in a gain that leaves the organisation in a better space than before. While financial risks might lead to gain, it’s also important to recognise that they might yield a loss if things don’t go according to plan. 

What is risk management when it comes to project management?

Risk management specifically in project management refers to the process used by project managers and traffic coordinators to mitigate potential problems that could affect the project’s operations. This means pre-planning, problem-solving and considering any adversities that could impact a project’s schedule and success ahead of time. Risks and issues are different and require a different sort of attention. Issues are bound to happen and the problems associated require planning to reduce the impact. Risks, however, are events that might occur and require planning against the odds instead of against the issue. 

The project manager and the risk manager need to work closely together to reduce the risks that might occur in a project’s life cycle and limit any damage that could be caused. 

Why is risk management important?

Without risk management, a company has no support or protection against the possibility of a negative impact from a risk. Risk management is crucial to safeguard against any events which can disrupt operations. The main aim is to make sure the company stays running successfully and risk management is in place to ensure this happens as much as possible.