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What does it take to create digital transformation?

Stine Willemoes Kondrup is a project manager at AU IT. In November last year, she and her colleagues from a number of units in the administration launched a new digital IT support platform at AU. Based on the experience gained from this project, she will present her suggestions on what it takes to create digital transformation.

2021.01.25 | Anders Hylander

Many of us who are less adept at IT may sometimes find it difficult to get to grips with the different terms within IT and IT management. For example, digitalisation and digital transformation are used interchangeably at AU, but is there actually a difference between them? Stine Willemoes Kondrup, project manager in AU IT, knows the answer, and she has just helped implement a new digital IT support platform at AU.

"The two concepts are difficult to separate, but in simple terms, digitalisation is primarily about the implementation of systems and technology, while digital transformation also includes the organisation's work on a vision and strategy for the digital solution, as well as the cultural transformation surrounding the individual digital solution and in the organisation in general," says Stine Willemoes Kondrup.

Her work on the new digital IT support platform has given Stine experience of working with digital transformation in practice. She emphasises that it is important to establish common ground on both the system-technical and organisational project objectives before you begin.

Common ground before change

The primary aim of the project was to implement a new web-based IT support platform and to develop common and unified processes to ensure the best support for AU students and employees with IT challenges.

The new IT support platform was launched in November 2020. However, according to Stine Willemoes Kondrup, an almost more important outcome from the project was the common ground the project created between the employees involved and across the administration. This has created a fertile basis for further digital transformation, she explains:

"Historically, there’s been a difference between workflows and procedures at the various units. For this reason, a central part of the project was to create a common culture around, for example, processes and workflows across the units. This was a vital component if the new platform was to be implemented successfully."

She stresses that working to create a common culture in parallel with implementation of the digital solution is a good example of how cultural changes are often the most demanding to implement:

"In slightly black and white terms, in the IT world we work on what we call an 80/20 basis. This means that it requires 80% of the resources in a project to create the cultural and procedural changes, while the digital solutions only require 20%."

User involvement in the next phase

User involvement is essential in creating digital transformation in an organisation. This is where the changes in culture and behaviour must really take place in earnest if the change is to be implemented. Even if the IT support platform project has been formally completed, work will continue on the digital transformation.

"I would have liked to have had more time and resources in the IT support platform project so that we could involve the users of the platform. Unfortunately, this has not been possible in the first instance, so it will be the focus of ongoing work to improve the platform," says Stine Willemoes Kondrup.

With regard to ongoing work on the digital transformation associated with the new IT platform, Stine also emphasises that the next phase will focus on anchoring and evaluating the governance structure for management of the new support platform, data-driven evaluation and improvement of the support processes. Furthermore the platform itself will be continuously improved to support work processes and user needs at AU. 

She stresses that the digital transformation does not stop when a new solution – in this context, the IT support platform – has been launched. The transformation of culture and digital mindset happens continuously and gradually; often over a longer period of time.

"The digital transformation of our IT support is a major change in the organisation, so it will take time, patience and constant focus," she concludes.

Are you going to work on a digital transformation project? Stine Willemoes Kondrup has four tips:

  • Change takes place through people and with people
  • Remember to match expectations for the vision for the change task
  • Understand, agree on and acknowledge the complexity
  • Resistance is not necessarily uncooperativeness, but often a desire for dialogue  

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