The expression ‘going digital’ is a broad term and needs defining in terms of what it means for a specific business or organization transitioning to it in whole or in part.

Many businesses are already at least partly digital; for instance, the widespread use of financial and accounting software means financial management is handled digitally as opposed to copious paper reports complied by hand, and easily printable checks and deposit slips ‘on demand’ reduce the need for manual processing.

So how can an organization go digital?

1. Define exactly what ‘going digital’ means

It may not be a whole transition for some concerns while for others it might. For example, some retail operations may close their physical premises and sell their wares wholly through a website.

On the other hand, a repair garage will still ply their trade from a physical premises but might ‘go digital’ in terms of setting up a web presence for customers to use when booking appointments and learning about the company.

2. Establish objectives

Decide what aspects you wish to ‘digitize’ about your organization and ask yourself why it will help.

Don’t go digital just because you think you should; in certain areas if it’s not going to help yet – as in increasing the bottom line – then you can either forego this aspect (having a mobile app for instance) or delay it until such time as you may need one.

You may think ‘going social’ by starting or boosting your social media presence is important. If so, why? Knowing what you hope to gain will help keep you focused on achieving it rather than a scattergun approach such as joining several social networks when one or two may best serve your business and its requirements.

3. Find the right skilled people

Depending on the depth of your digitization process, ensure you have the right people on board whether as staff or expertise hired in.

For instance, setting up a full e-commerce website to reliably sell and conduct transactions 24/7 is no time to try a bit of digital DIY website building or entrust it to a small scale web designer who has no track record in creating e-commerce platforms.

If you’re thinking of ‘doing’ digital marketing, then find an expert who can help you get the most out of digital platforms such as social media and email marketing.

4. Budget properly

Some people get seduced by the promise that digitizing is comparatively cheap. It’s true some aspects of going digital can be very cost effective and maybe free, but there will be a price tag unless ‘going digital’ to you means setting up a one or two social media accounts and putting up a free website.

Naturally skilled people such as IT experts and digital marketing professionals will need to be paid the going rate for their services, and software and hardware usually has a price tag.

For instance, if part of your digitization is in using the cloud to store data that might previously have existed in paper form, then space on a third party’s cloud servers – while cost effective compared to local physical storage – does cost as does extra storage space if you exceed your free allowance on a platform such as Dropbox or Google Drive.

While digital marketing can cost considerably less than print advertising and physical media such as brochures, you’d still need to budget for it.

5. Take your time

If you’ve determined you should go digital in a wide sense as in, say, producing a new website, developing a mobile app, boosting your social media presence and getting into digital marketing then be careful of trying to do everything too soon.

Whilst the digital world moves fast and you don’t want to be left behind, trying to go digital in every area at once could run the risk of your not focusing properly on each aspect of digitization.

It’s preferable to choose one or two areas and ensure they’re developed properly before moving to another. Pick the one that’s most important – perhaps a new web presence – and devote your efforts to it.