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How to create a digital transformation strategy for your school

A note from Cole School Experts: this post is part of a series of blogs that focus on getting your school’s digitally transformed. Read our first post about Preparing for digital transformation at your school

“In order for any business to succeed, it must first become a system so that the business functions exactly the same way every time, down to the last detail.” Rick Harshaw

Getting a digital strategy off the ground can feel daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Once you’ve prepared your team for the project and are confident that it’ll deliver value for both staff and parents, it’s time to get a strategy in place. 

A solid digital transformation strategy involves a few key components:

• An internal communications plan

• A list of vetted technology implementation partners 

• A realistic budget for the entire project.

In this post, we’re going to look at each component in detail, to help you create a custom digital transformation strategy that meets your goals. Let’s dive in!

Develop your internal communication plan

The most successful projects have a well-organised and cooperative team working together to meet a common goal. For this reason, it’s essential that you choose a Project Lead (also referred to as the Change Management Lead, or Culture Change Lead) who has the right mix of skills and authority to move the project forward. In our experience, a great Project Lead has:

• Knowledge of the school’s existing systems, procedures and strategic goals

• Preexisting relationships with key stakeholders

• The time and availability required to see the project through to completion

• Influence and authority in the school community

• Exceptional communication skills.

Once you’ve determined the best Project Lead for your digital transformation project, it’s essential that you take time to consider the impact on all stakeholders within your school community. These stakeholders include student services, finance, parents, staff and students. You’ll need to talk with each stakeholder group and communicate your reasoning for undertaking the project. In these meetings, make sure you provide multiple opportunities for stakeholders to express concerns and be prepared — it’s very unlikely that you’ll introduce a new change to the school without objections. 

You’ll need to create a strategy to maintain communication with stakeholders throughout the entire project, and then continue it once the changes have been made. In our work with schools, we often see project teams make the assumption that because they know and accept the reasons for the change, others will too. 

Map out your technology implementation and find your perfect partners

While preparing for digital transformation at your school, you likely put together a detailed Self Assessment brief. This brief usually includes information about where your school currently sits in terms of digital transformation, and how you plan to improve systems and processes.

This Self Assessment forms the foundation to select the best technology to reach your desired business outcomes. Your team can use the Self Assessment to brief prospective technology partners. You can communicate success factors (including how you’ll measure return on investment, or ROI) and explain technical and cultural elements that will affect the project. From there, you’ll be able to assess your options based on factors such as:

• How securely they’ll handle data

• How their solution will integrate with your existing apps and programs

• How their solution will integrate with other apps going forward

• How they’ll onboard your team into the program, and if they’ll provide ongoing training

• How long it will take to implement their solution, with a rough project timeline.

You can check their references and ask if they’ve worked with other schools in the past. Many software providers will be happy to put you in touch with other clients to ask further questions about their experience. If you’re still struggling to make an informed decision, a school software consultant (like the specialists at Cole School Experts!) can come in handy to help you assess your options.

Set your budget 

Finally, you’ll need to set a project budget to include in the strategy. This step achieves two things: it helps you to prepare for the costs you’ll incur throughout the project, while also demonstrating the overall savings you’ll see once you’ve completed the process.

It’s important that you set a realistic (and flexible) budget that ensures you have the funds to solve the problems you’ve identified, while also ensuring you can prove ROI once the transformation is underway. Unfortunately, allocating a budget for digital projects can be tricky and time consuming. Once again, it can help to bring in an expert consultant who has experience with project management and can help you set a budget, while also working out your projected ROI.

If you’re looking for a partner who can assist you to create an achievable school digital transformation strategy, we’d love to hear from you. At Cole School Experts, we are committed to setting your school up for digital transformation success — over the long term. If you have a big project coming up, and you’re not sure where to begin, make sure you give us a call. Our tried and tested methodology starts with the end result in mind to ensure your project stays on track and works towards your core objectives.

Ready to get started? Talk to a friendly member of our team today!