13 Tips for Getting Leadership Buy-In for Digital Transformation

Team members in a meeting, sitting around a table in the board room.

2020 saw a fast-moving shift from in-person learning to digital transformation in Higher Education. And while most institutions embraced digital or hybrid learning, getting leadership to buy into that digital change was often the biggest challenge.

So, to help e-learning managers and digital transformation leaders make a difference in this area, we’ve created a guide for influencing leadership. Because, to be successful in evolving your offer, you need to get leadership and/or management on board with your vision for change. 

So take a look through this list of 13 tips for how you can influence leadership in this area.

Why does digital transformation need backing from leadership?

There are many reasons why you should get leadership involved in digital transformation. So here is a handful to start you off.

Organisational change is complex

Pivoting from in-person to digital learning is difficult because it impacts many departments and stakeholders. But in 2020, this shift to online learning became a necessity for most. And it’s an organisation’s leadership team who’ll often have to take responsibility for the cost and accountability for the results. So you’ll need to get them on-side.

AI is now supporting teaching workloads

In their 2021 AI Barometer Report, the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation revealed that we’re living through a global shift in the use of AI to augment in-person learning. And this expansion of reliance on AI by the teaching sector is also reflected in the predicted growth of the global AI edtech market by 2030.

Digital transformation gives HE institutions a competitive advantage

A 2021 research paper posits that digital transformation is a fundamental need for all HE institutions wanting to gain a competitive advantage. And so it’s an important aspect for most academic institutions who want to know how they can improve their rankings.

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13 tips for getting buy-in for digital transformation

So what can you do to ensure success in convincing senior management or leadership to buy into the need for digital change? Here’s some tips to help you:

  1. Build a business case: It’s likely your leadership team will say they have enough to worry about without considering any major change, innovation, or long-term development. But by building a strong business case that contains evidence, facts, data, and use cases, you’ll be in a stronger position to convince them of the advantages. So how should you approach building your case?   
  2. Understand the challenges of your leaders: Your business case should focus on solving your leadership team’s problem. So, you’ll need to uncover what those problems are first. And if you can’t ask them then try to get hold of any meeting notes, annual reports, or speak with colleagues to understand where their pressure points could be.  
  3. Match solutions to their problems: By presenting leadership with a solution to their problems, you’ll have a greater chance of success. So, whether it’s to increase accessibility, digital security, or improve educational outcomes, make sure your digital transformation solutions solve their specific problems. 
  4. Include benefits: Highlighting the key additional benefits will also increase your chances of securing buy-in from leadership. For instance, new software may focus on solving the problem of security, but it may also bring the additional benefits of saving time or resources in other departments. 
  5. Measure success: You may have formed the right pitch, but you’ll need to think ahead to show enough evidence that your implemented plan is working. So make sure to plan the measurements you’ll use in advance. For example, including perceived ROI or improvement KPIs that you’re targeting will help leadership to see that your solution has been effective. And having this evidence to hand will put you in a stronger position to negotiate any further change.
  6. Inspire them: So you’ve got your business case in hand, but now need to inspire others and get them excited about it. So sure, you could use a PowerPoint presentation to show them the key reasons. But emotions are often more powerful for decision-making than people realise. So, ensure you are also invested in your vision for change first. Because when you’re confident and excited about your plan and vision for change, you’ll find it easier to get others to feel that way too.  
  7. Appoint a champion: Once you’ve engaged your leadership team, consider asking an individual member to champion your project. By having an appointed member of the board overseeing or supporting the work, you’ll take them on a journey that will increase their appreciation for the benefits of change. But also, when things go well, you can both share in the reward of seeing a project come to fruition. 
  8. Communicate: Leadership’s agreement won’t be the end of the buy-in process. You also need to bring them along with you as you go. So, use regular and formalised reporting that tracks progress. And consider attending leadership team meetings at regular intervals to review. 
  9. Adapt: Based on feedback and input, or even just from tracking your progress, you may need to flex and change your approach. So be open to any feedback or thoughts but don’t renege on any vital aspects you know will be important.
  10. Assess progress: Now that your digital transformation project has been implemented, you’ll need to check if it’s met your perceived goals. So, now is the time to revert back to your original plan. Have you met your key goals, targets, and KPIs? Can you see any short-term, immediate benefits? Or are these more likely to come later down the line?  
  11. WWW / EBI: Few projects will be 100% successful. There will always be a blip or bump along the way. So, as part of your assessment and project audit, consider What Went Well and what could be Even Better If. And by carrying out these assessments, you’ll share the results in a very positive way while highlighting areas for improvement. 
  12. Present the bigger picture: Show senior leadership precisely what difference the project has made. But also, use this opportunity to ‘zoom out’ to reveal the bigger picture. Will your single project lead to more applications next year, boost the brand or push the institution higher up the league tables? Show them the specific differences it will make across the organisation. 
  13. Celebrate your success: There’s probably no need to throw a party at the end. But do make the effort to share your success with the wider organisation, via intranets or company updates. Doing so will not only make leadership look good in front of others but will also embolden them to continue investing in digital transformation.

Consider Caption.Ed as part of your digital transformation

Nobody said digital transformation is easy. But in today’s hybrid and blended learning environments, it’s a necessity for all educational institutions. 

And you don’t have to overhaul every aspect of your organisation when you start out. Incremental change or taking the process step-by-step is often the best way. 

But suppose you discover that leadership needs a solution to the problem of broadening inclusivity or accessibility. Well, you can let them know about Caption.Ed. 

Caption.Ed is the preferred captioning and note-taking tool for UK universities and colleges. And because it is platform agnostic, it works across any platform, from your VLE to MS Teams and Zoom. 

So if you want to increase your level of digital proficiency, widen accessibility, or give students and faculty the best opportunity to enhance their learning, get in touch with our sales team. 

Ask us about Caption.Ed in an HE institution and we’ll help you to embark on digital transformation and change in your context.

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