Ten simple ways to kickstart your digital transformation

We’ve all been talking about Digital Transformation for a while now, yet many people are still fuzzy about what it really means.

For us, it’s about adopting a ‘digital first’ approach; using digital tools and skills to solve business problems.

This can feel daunting for more traditional businesses and charities but it’s actually much simpler than you might think.

It doesn’t even require a full-scale initiative. You can start by solving one business problem at a time.

Because digital transformation is a way of being, rather than doing.

It’s doesn’t hinge on adopting the right process but adopting a digitally savvy mindset.

The best way to adopt that… is to do it.

In this article, we’ll share some stories and examples of how other organisations and businesses are using digital to do things better.

In a follow-up post we’ll be sharing a foolproof process for taking traditional offline services digital, so come back next week for that one.

#1 Keep projects on time and budget with Basecamp like Action for Children

We use Basecamp to share our weekly sprints across product teams, and share daily updates on progress. We can also choose to deep-dive into each other’s projects, and access everything in minutes. It really makes us feel like a team even when we’re working on independent projects, remotely.

You can help reduce endless email chains by trialling Slack, Basecamp or Trello to manage projects. Taking conversations out of people’s inboxes and into dedicated tools will mean greater across teams (or even organisations) improving collaboration.

#2 Boost team communication with daily huddles or standups

Digital projects are often so fast moving that they have spawned exciting ways of working to keep up. Try daily standups to get your team more in tune with each other and have regular conversations around what you’re doing.

As Content Strategist Ellen De Vries from Clearleft explains in her book ‘Collaborate’, team rituals such as standups can be a saving grace when the pressure is on. Quickly sharing your daily tasks with your teammates will improve understanding as to what people are working on and will also be a great place to raise issues you face that others may be able to help with. Or even deal with any disputes that arise.

#3 Increase collaboration with cloud-based content tools

Switching from locally stored documents to cloud-based systems such as Office 365 and Google suite allows several people to work on the same documents in real-time. No more endless email attachments, just one central document with all the same features (and a few more)

Tools like GatherContent are also valuable for content teams who are creating content for digital projects.

#4 Use digital dashboards to increase productivity

Johnston Press is one of the largest local and regional multimedia organisations in the UK. By installing large TV screens in their offices, which  run news from across their network, they’re keep all their teams informed and share stories right across the UK.

They also share interesting and useful data to encourage cross-team collaboration and generate new ideas. Something many national organisations could easily experiment with.

#5 Create a digital mindset with online learning like Friends of the Earth

From search engine optimisation to minimum viable products to design thinking, Friends of Earth encourage all their staff to uplevel their digital skills with informal online learning.

They also hold informal ‘Digital lunchtime talks’ where outside experts come to share their insights.

As Tom Wright, FoE’s Digital Change Agent, shares in this podcast interview the result has been hugely positive and proven that you don’t need to have a digital job role to adopt a digital mindset.

#6 Enhance your digital marketing with handy tools

No matter what channels your marketing team use, there are so many excellent tools that will help them time and improve results.

Email is still a brilliant channel for nurturing relationships with existing customers. While you’ve probably heard of Mailchimp for managing your email list, Drip and MixMax make it even easier to set-up automated nuture paths and email campaigns.

Buffer is one we use to save time and take the pain out of posting to our social feeds. Look into MissingLettr and Edgar for ways to recycle content. Schedule your Instagram posts with IconoSquare and use TweetDeck to stay on top of all your Twitter accounts.

Learn about SEO with Moz and fine tune your (WordPress) site quickly with Yoast.

#7 Use CRM to boost sales like Lucy Snell

Business Development expert Lucy Snell recommends that all her clients use a CRM to help grow their business;

One of my clients was using excel sheets to track their new business activity. Nothing was up to date, some sheets had thousands of contacts and some just listed their hottest prospects. There was no system to keep track of who to follow up.

When it comes to sales, it’s all about the follow-up, so we decided to set up a Cloud based CRM system using Highrise.

Now all the prospects are in one place it’s easy to run email campaigns. More importantly we have a system in place that flags up in our diary when we have to call people back. It means that we never ever miss an opportunity.

#8 Use live chat to instantly connect with customers like Headliner

Live chat allows us to connect one-to-one with our potential customers and answer specific queries. We’ve seen a drastic reduction in time from enquiry to sale.

While implementing it requires little technical knowledge, as Headliner found, live chat can increase conversions because provides a human face to the interaction.

Whether you’re managing your sales funnel or want to provide better customer support, live chat allows you to start a conversation instantly and when your customer needs it most.

#9 Use online accounting for better financial management

Some people love getting stuck into the accounts but for most it’s a chore that is at the bottom of the list. Modern accounting software can take the pain out of the process for even the least financially-savvy. FreeAgent, Xero and Freshbooks are all worth a look-in.

We love FreeAgent and couldn’t operate without it, especially now we have ~200 people paying a small amount via Direct Debit (GoCardless) each month. If we had to do that by hand we would drown.

#10 Increase innovation with R&D time like Lighthouse

In a similar vein, every Friday afternoon at Lighthouse is ‘Enlightenment’. We set aside time to research something new for an hour after lunch which then often turns into a Show and Tell.

We regularly learn about new technologies in these sessions and share with the team. On multiple occasions this has led to us introducing new ways of working to our standard processes. This includes new approaches to accessibility, adoption of new frameworks for our front-end development, alternative solutions to how we run our local servers and it’s even led to a couple of new product ideas.


As these stories show, anyone, in any organisation, can use digital tools and thinking to do things better and faster.

But what about customers?

Most of them just expect to access everything you offer on their phone, 24/7.

If you aren’t able to offer that just yet, it’s probably time you started. Our next article will show you how.