Speed Up Digital Engineering Adoption

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Getting Quick Wins with Change Management Principles

“There’s no blueprint to develop capabilities faster than our adversaries,” says Erica. “But there are principles we’re applying so defense clients can hit the ground running.”

An expedited approach gets the job done. “With one traditional change model we’ve seen, quick wins are on step 7 of an 8-step process,” she explained. “Our adversaries aren’t going to wait for step 7—neither do we. We tackle the alligator closest to the boat.”

Building Buy-In: A Timeless Goal

One necessity that hasn’t changed over time is getting the team on board. “It’s a rare engineer who can intuitively make people passionate about handling a technical problem—I can say that since I’m an engineer!” adds Kevin.

“People frequently think they make decisions based on data when it’s really based on emotion. You have to ground the decision in data, but if you can’t make someone see why the idea will make them better and get the mission done faster, you’ll lose them.” Telling systems engineers the team will be 60% more productive becomes more meaningful if you explain this allows them to spend more time on modeling and simulation, data visualizations, or other areas they're interested in.

Principles That Speed Change

Change is not linear, and neither is our approach. We’re finding clients move ahead fastest by blending strategic tech with smart principles. This allows flexibility for each client’s goals, resources, and situation. Here are some of the foundational elements:

1. Know where you’re going.

Engaging everyone from the start is essential. Get input from people at every level, from leaders to junior team members. During this stage, you’ll also need to do a gap analysis to see where your organization is now compared to where it needs to be, whether based on regulations or productivity goals. “Based on a maturity model, we can then say, here are different examples of where you could go and what outcomes you could achieve,” says Erica. 

“We’ve been there—maturing our own digital engineering practice, and in helping others transform. Providing solid choices and outcomes takes the guesswork out for our clients,” Kevin explains. “It also helps them think through what exactly they want to accomplish now, and what can wait until later.”

“Not every enterprise needs to be the most digitally forward-leaning one in the service to get some outcomes,” Erica adds. “A little improvement can still bring a lot of benefits.” Simply digitizing documents, for example, allows a team to increase productivity, reduce mistakes, and create a foundation to build on as resources become available.

2. Create a flexible plan.

Once the team has aligned on initial goals, we work with them to develop a strategic plan that provides quick wins along with steady, measurable gains. This culminates in a flexible road map—accelerating accomplishments while being practical enough to withstand day-to-day challenges. At the same time, the plan is agile enough to pivot for new directives. 

For example, the steps toward digital product lifecycle management might start with gathering information from disparate systems, digitizing documents, and creating a digital thread on the technical side. On the strategic side, you may be setting goals for predictive maintenance so you can build in the highest value from the start.

3. Prepare your people—across multiple dimensions.

Creating a digital workforce requires technology and training, but communication is a must throughout. “You need to explain that we have a shared vision, you’re a valued partner, and this new path will help you mature,” says Kevin. "People need to know what's in it for them."

“For those who are used to paper-based systems, they need to hear, ‘Yes, we are automating parts of your job, but you’ll be working on higher value projects,’” he says. “It’s easy to overlook how important buy-in is, but it will dramatically increase your chances for success.” Our teams help organizations conduct training that creates a positive outcome for each member and shared understanding across the team.

4. Provide guides for consistency—especially in tools. 

Your organization may have engineering teams with disparate technical backgrounds, with personal preferences for certain digital tools. Or you may have concerns about adopting tools that could prove to be incompatible. While DOD provides a benefit by not being overly prescriptive on tools, there are advantages to standardization. We help clients prepare simple, straightforward guides to help establish tools and expedite decision making. 

Plan Annually. Evolve Strategically.


“Our strategists are digitally fluent and understand DOD’s guidance for that mission or service,” says Kevin. “And we know those plans are always changing to stay ahead of developments. Integrating strategists with technologists allows us to inject tech capabilities as needed into the cycle. From planning to implementation to sustainment, it’s all one holistic journey."