IT Transformation | Ultimate Guide

By: Ronan McQuillan

Feb 9, 2023 | 55 minutes read

It would be easy to write IT transformation as just another buzz phrase - but it’d be a big mistake too.

You see, the IT department is the core of your operations, right across the rest of your organization. We talk a lot these days about digital transformation, but you won’t get far without the right tools, people, expertise, capabilities, and capacity.

IT transformation helps you to achieve exactly that.

Today, we’re diving deep into everything you need to know.

The trouble is that there’s quite a bit of ground to cover. See, IT transformation pulls in a whole range of disciplines. Obviously, we need to deal with technical considerations on the one hand.

Besides this, there’s a whole raft of operational, financial, legal, and even cultural issues to get right.

This is a lot for one department to handle - let alone a single person.

For now, let’s start by thinking about the basics.

What is IT transformation?

IT transformation is all about bringing IT into line with your broader organizational goals. In other words, making sure that your IT is fit for purpose.

Ultimately, the goal is to maximize the value that your IT team is providing across your entire business. Since this is a pretty broad goal, we can also draw on a wide range of different strategies and activities to reach it - depending on your specific situation.

So, we could be talking about specific technical interventions - like moving certain functions to the cloud. Equally, we could be talking about a wholesale rethink of your IT ops.

We could even be dealing with both.

Don’t worry. We’re going to drill much deeper into the different levers at your disposal a little bit later - once we have a better grasp of the theory.

For instance…

Who cares?

We’re being flippant here. Obviously, you care about IT transformation. So does your boss - and probably their boss too. What we really want to get at is why it matters.

The best way to illustrate this is to take a step back and think about the purpose of business IT.

This is so basic that you might never have given it any great thought. Your IT team’s mission is to facilitate the daily work of other teams by providing them with the tools, data, and support they need to do their jobs.

The more effectively IT does this, the more efficient, productive, and profitable the entire business will be.

The trouble is that technical teams often struggle to see the big picture - especially in larger organizations. That’s why, for example, we end up with solutions that meet the requirements that are laid out in the spec - but fail to address the business problem they set out to solve.

IT Transformation Stats

(BoardView )

This is why alignment between your IT team and your wider strategic goals is so important.

The 3 pillars of IT transformation

However, knowing that aligning IT with your wider strategic goals would be desirable is one thing.

Surely, nobody would argue with that.

Translating this into a concrete plan of action is another thing altogether.

Therefore, we need a more granular view of what’s actually involved in IT transformation.

One way to frame this is by talking about the three pillars of transformation.

Here’s what you need to know about each.

1. Modern infrastructure & solutions

The first pillar is concerned with the actual technology your teams need. This ranges all the way from your network infrastructure down to the tools you use to build UIs for different processes.

We don’t have much hope if our tech isn’t up to scratch.

Modernization is often the key goal here.

Nowadays, some of the biggest themes here are cloud migrations, big data, AI, low/no-code, containerization, and RPA.

These headline technologies are important, of course, but the infrastructure and capabilities that underpin them play just as important a role. So do the processes, policies, and operational issues that support them.

So, IT transformation prioritizes scalable, forward-looking solutions that provide sustainable business value.

2. Consistent, efficient operations

However, IT transformation is just as concerned with non-technical issues. Specifically, the way you structure your team and organize workloads.

Nothing ever really happens in a silo. Your ops will inevitably have an impact on the quality of solutions your IT team delivers, along with the speed and cost of doing so. As such, it pays to get this right.

This is actually a whole lot trickier than the tech side of things.

The goal is to ensure that your IT team has sufficient resources to meet the needs of your wider organization, as well as striving to use these resources in the most cost-effective way possible.

On the one hand, this can mean drawing on traditional HR and operational techniques, paying particular attention to the size, structure, and make-up of your team.

In the context of a global shortage of qualified developers, businesses are increasingly also turning to newer strategies, including automating workflows, leveraging citizen development, and prioritizing effective, integrated tech stacks.

3. Human-first service delivery

Finally, the outcomes that your technical team achieves across your business are the yardstick that you’ll measure any IT transformation efforts against. We can characterize this as a human-first approach to IT.

What does this mean in practice?

Firstly, it means grounding decisions in the actual real-world needs of service users - whether they be colleagues or customers. This sounds obvious, but traditional IT doesn’t exactly have a great track record here.

In large part, what we want to achieve is a shift in mindsets. That is, it’s pretty normal solutions to formally meet their specifications, but not actually solve anything for their end users.

Shifting focus towards prioritizing business value helps to alleviate this problem.

Besides this, IT transformation strives to empower on-the-ground colleagues by fostering a culture of innovation. At a practical level, this involves providing them with the tools they need to make data-driven decisions and solve real-life business problems for themselves.

IT transformation benefits

Let’s flesh that out a little by thinking more deeply about the specific problems that IT transformation addresses. There are myriad benefits here, but we can break them down into a few key clusters for the sake of ease.

Here are the high-level benefits of IT transformation.

Financial

Transformation empowers our teams to do more with less. So, we can actually place the financial benefits into two categories - those that save us money and those that boost our revenues.

Of course, in the real world, we’re unlikely to see such a clear-cut separation.

For instance, one of the most obvious elements of improving our IT’s strategic alignment is ensuring that our team has the tools they need to do their jobs effectively. In turn, this breeds efficiency.

Alternatively, we can cut wastage by directing investment towards solutions that are actually going to make a difference, removing redundancy - as well as cutting labor costs through automation.

Strategic

Data is the single most important asset your business has. It’s the difference between your best guess and informed strategic decision-making.

As such, IT transformation makes a strategic impact at two levels:

  • Providing optimal data accessibility for decision-makers at all levels.
  • Maximizing the business’ capacity to collect, store, process, and leverage data.

The net effect of this is that everyone from on-the-ground teams to the C-suite is able to make better, data-driven decisions.

Besides this, IT transformation has the extra strategic boon of empowering colleagues to prioritize more cerebral tasks by seeking to eliminate menial or repetitive work - thereby driving innovation.

Cultural

You might not immediately see how making changes to your IT could bring about a cultural shift.

One simple way of thinking about this is that you’re bringing your business processes into the digital age. It’s a bit easier to see how this could have a knock-on impact on how colleagues think about business processes.

The truth is that IT transformation, like any other change process, is bound up in a particular set of values. Specifically, this means embedding efficiency, automation, digitalization, empiricism, and innovation as norms across your business.

Agility

Agility is how quickly your business responds to change, new information, market trends, or incidents. There are several variables that determine this. On the one hand, we have policy-level issues, like specific incident response processes.

IT has a role to play here, at least to an extent. However, as you’d expect, the much greater impact comes from aspects related to:

  • Information visibility.
  • Communications.
  • Process efficiency.
  • Reliability.
  • Security.

For example, within your IT team, you might ask how quickly can you bring a new feature or patch live. Or, you might think about the business more widely - how quickly can you start delivering after a new client has signed on?

The right information technology is central in either case.

IT Priorities

(SlideTeam )

Technical

Of course, IT transformation can also bring about a vast array of specific technical benefits - across speed, security, functionality, integrability, reliability, and more.

In many cases, the big theme here is modernization. If you’re like the vast majority of businesses, your IT has evolved over the years, rather than being designed from the ground up.

This is sort of the natural order of things - but it also creates a lot of problems. So, we see concerted moves towards the cloud, containerization, microservices, AI, and other new technologies to help keep pace with business requirements.

IT transformation takes this one step further. See, sometimes businesses want to adopt whatever the newly in-vogue technology is - regardless of whether it’s actually going to do them much good.

By prioritizing strategic alignment, we’re much better positioned to maximize our technical capability, without wasting money on shiny new toys that we don’t really need.

IT transformation vs digital transformation

This is a common point of confusion. Part of the problem is that there’s a lot of wrong information out there about the relationship between IT transformation and digital transformation.

For a start, they are not the same thing - as much as they’re used interchangeably sometimes.

Despite this, there is a fair degree of overlap, so pay close attention to this part.

Digital transformation means using technology to improve the way your business operates. The technology itself isn’t the important thing - how you use it to improve the lives of customers, colleagues, or partners is.

Because of this, we often hear the adage that digital transformation is technology-empowered but human-focused. It’s an ongoing optimization process.

We can contrast this with IT transformation in a couple of key ways.

First of all, IT transformation places much greater emphasis on delivering specific technical capabilities as an outcome - as well as how quickly and effectively you can do so. However, unlike digital transformation, technology isn’t always the means to reaching this end.

For instance, you might restructure your development team to improve technical outcomes.

Secondly, digital transformation can be concerned with process improvement across any aspect of your business. As the name suggests, IT transformation only worries about doing so within your IT department.

Finally, IT transformation often has a much more discrete, tightly defined end goal. Where digital transformation is an everlasting battle for efficiency, IT transformation projects might have more limited, specific objectives.

Where does IT fit into your digital transformation strategy?

So what does all of this say about the relationship between these two different types of transformation? How do they fit together?

These are deceptively complex questions.

The truth is that how digital and IT transformations interact will inevitably vary from business to business. So, instead of making any sweeping generalizations, it’s important to think about the ways they can interact with each other in different contexts.

One way of looking at this is that IT transformation facilitates digital transformation.

After all, digital transformation puts a hell of a burden on IT teams. The embedded transformation is, the more demand there is for solutions, and therefore, the more work there is for IT to deliver.

There are a couple of different ways that this can play out. On the one hand, the better optimized and more streamlined your IT ops are, the more easily you’ll be able to deliver digital transformation projects at speed.

The flip side of this is that ineffective IT ops will create a bottleneck.

That is, if your current resources, processes, or methodologies can’t keep pace with the demand for solutions.

Again, the basic principle here is that we want our IT to be strategically aligned with our wider business goals. Your digital transformation efforts are one such goal that this can help to facilitate.

When do we turn to transformation?

So when do we need to start thinking about IT transformation? There’s no one single answer here, obviously.

There are a few key scenarios and pain points we need to be aware of.

Cast your mind back to some of the core benefits we looked at earlier. It’s pretty obvious that we might turn to IT transformation if there was a known problem with our team’s finances, productivity, morale, or the quality of their solutions - to name but a few issues.

But, this isn’t the whole story. That would be much too easy.

Rather, many of the issues that we’re dealing with are more ingrained, systemic, and subtle than this.

Let’s drill into a few of the most important ones.

Our IT team is overstretched

Put your hands up if you’re an overworked, underappreciated IT professional. In almost every business in the world, demand for IT services and solutions hugely outpaces what technical colleagues can provide.

This isn’t anyone’s fault. It simply speaks to how much of a priority digitalization is at all levels of your organization.

IT transformation offers a framework for making the best use of your available technical resources so that they always provide optimal business value.

IT Transformation

(McKinsey )

It takes forever to get anything done

This might equally be the case within your IT department or outside of it.

So, in the former case, the issue might be that projects never progress because of poor IT ops. In the latter, you might have a more widespread, endemic problem with efficiency.

In both cases, the role of IT transformation is clear.

By aligning our IT to our wider strategic goals, we place ourselves in a much better position to embed agility, efficiency, and innovation as norms across our business.

Our data is everywhere

Without a doubt, the top challenge facing businesses today is making effective use of their data. Often, the problem isn’t that they don’t have enough data - it’s that they have too much.

At least - that’s how it can feel.

Really though, what businesses struggle with is leveraging their data to garner useful insights. This could be because the right employees can’t access it. Or, maybe there’s no centralized way to get reliable information.

By empowering users with single sources of truth, IT transformation provides a framework for colleagues at all levels to make better-informed, more effective decisions.

We need to make cutbacks

There’s no getting around the fact that businesses today face serious economic headwinds. One of the obvious signs that you need to make changes is if your IT team is just costing you too much, relative to the value it provides.

Again, we can think of this in two ways. One is that if our team is more productive, it will cost us less to output any given solution.

The other is that when we can solve more internal problems at a greater speed, we make wider efficiency savings, and our IT team pays for itself.

Software never fixes anything

In some organizations - especially larger ones - there’s constant, ongoing investment in new platforms - and none of them ever actually solve anything.

As we’ve said, sometimes development teams are more worried about building things to spec than they are about fixing the underlying business problem.

IT transformation is anathema to this. When we create a culture of alignment between IT and our wider organizational goals, we ensure that solutions consistently provide real-life business value.

We can’t agree on anything

IT transformation is often the impetus for wider organizational change. One of the key signs of a need for change and transformation is when you’re having trouble achieving internal consensus on important business decisions.

Of course, a certain amount of difference of opinions is normal. What isn’t normal is when you can’t agree on the basic facts of whatever situation you find yourself in.

Again, when we furnish internal decision-makers with reliable insights and sources of truth, we create a much larger amount of clarity around vital decision points.

8 types of transformation

Up to now, we haven’t gone into enormous detail on the specific changes that are actually driven by IT transformation. Obviously, if you’re going to put any of the knowledge you’ve gained so far into action, this needs to change.

So, let’s look at eight of the most common types of transformation efforts that you’re likely to focus on.

In no particular order, we have the following.

1. Modernization projects

Modernization projects are probably the kinds of changes that spring to mind first. This is when we make major investments to replace legacy systems with newer, more performant equivalents.

We can think about an extreme example to illustrate the important points here. Say you were tasked with replacing a warehouse management system that had been in place for a decade or more.

This wouldn’t be an easy undertaking by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, you’d have a lot more on your plate than simply finding the best replacement platform.

You’ll also likely need to contend with transforming or replacing a wide array of related processes, both within the IT department and the directly affected teams.

Modernization is rarely a case of straightforward replacements. After all, it’s not enough to buy modern tools. We also need modern, streamlined operations to make the most of them.

2. Cloud transformation

The cloud has long been synonymous with digital transformation. However, huge IT transformation efforts are required to facilitate this.

Really, we’re talking about a fundamental shift in the way businesses - and especially technical teams - do things. So, for example, we might see a complete change in our support, maintenance, and monitoring workflows as a result of the work needed to move to the cloud.

Cloud transformations also facilitate frankly revolutionary working practices - from telecommuting to 24/7 customer support. As such we really can’t undersell the importance of IT transformation here.

3. Leadership change

Sometimes IT transformation can be as simple as a change at the top. Remember, transformation can draw just as heavily on cultural shifts as technical ones. A new leader can lead to just this.

This can lead to more profound change than you might expect. Say your company got a new CTO.

It’s unlikely that things will be business as usual.

Rather, they’re inevitably going to want to make their own mark on the organization. So, we might expect to see anything from changes to administrative workflows to full-on methodology shifts.

4. Restructuring

Another type of transformation that may seem more ops than IT is an organizational restructure. Of course, there are a bunch of different ways that this might play out. Anything from changing a few job titles and reporting structures to a ground-up rebuild.

Therefore, the extent of the impact will also vary - as will the specific issues you need to worry about.

For example, changing the structure of an existing dev team will probably mean rethinking your code review processes. To build a team from scratch, this will be just one of many issues to get right in your transformation efforts.

5. Downsizing

Sometimes, IT transformation means figuring out how to do more with less. This is especially common in the current economic climate. Again, this can take a couple of different forms, practically speaking.

Normally, we either mean reducing our labor costs or the bill for some other resource - for instance, scaling back our software stack or trying to make our infrastructure more cost-effective.

In either case, the changes required can be involved are often more holistic than you might expect. So, cutting down on labor costs might also mean investing in new platforms to help get the most out of your remaining team, for instance.

6. Expansion

At the other end of the spectrum, we have the kinds of transformation that are more focused on investment and growth. So, expanding our team, doubling down on a particular activity, or adding some other kind of resource.

This is deceptively risky. With any kind of investment, we obviously face the prospect of failing to see the ROI we expected. On top of this, we have more contextual risks for specific types of expansions and investments.

Say you decided it’s time to double your developer headcount.

This will introduce a whole raft of new risks. Breakages are more likely. HR costs and staff turnover might start to go up. Miscommunications are easier in bigger teams. All of these things need to be accounted for.

7. Methodological

Alternatively, we might retain the same team structure and overall resource allocation, but build IT transformation around the way we do things - both at the level of individual tasks and more generally.

The most common way to do this systematically is to adopt a particular methodology. For example, moving your developers to Agile instead of a Waterfall approach to building solutions.

This can often be the most involved, far-reaching kind of IT transformation. This isn’t simply an operational or technical shift - it’s just as much about changing the culture and ethos of your IT team.

8. Technological

Finally, we can think about explicitly technical transformations. For instance, moving from using one platform for a particular task to another. Still, we can only really class this as IT transformation if changing the tool in question will have a broad, systemic impact.

For instance, buying a new tool for a single function like vacation requests would hardly be transformative. By contrast, moving to a new CRM or ERP platform would have much more widespread effects - and would be transformative.

Of course, this could equally mean adopting new technology in a more holistic way, rather than for a discrete use case or task. For example, investing in a low-code platform to empower employees in other departments to build solutions for themselves.

More on this later.

Driving success in IT transformation

So, now we have a better idea of the kinds of changes that you might make during an IT transformation project.

But what does success look like here?

Of course, this will vary from business to business and project to project. Later, we’re going to explore the concrete steps you can take to plan and implement IT transformation in the real world.

Before we get to that though, we need to think about the kinds of performance indicators we might use to measure our success.

Let’s jump right in.

Strategic alignment

We’ve mentioned this already as being the basic currency of IT transformation. That is, IT transformation is striving for strategic alignment. However, this isn’t quite enough detail as far as setting goals is concerned.

So, what we need is a clearer way to operationalize strategic alignment. Something we can measure.

This is tricky since alignment is obviously a pretty abstract, nebulous kind of concept.

We have a couple of indirect metrics we can get a useful insight out of though.

The first option is to come up with a metric that adequately portrays how well your IT team solves problems in the real world. For example, first-contact resolution rates for support teams, or adoption-rate data for custom solutions.

With any of these options, our goal is to use the outcomes of specific activities to determine to what extent they’re providing wide business value.

Alternatively, we can focus our attention on perceptions of strategic alignment, using surveys or other qualitative methods. Obviously, one option would be asking IT colleagues to assess their understanding of the business’s wider goals.

On top of this we can assess the perceptions of service users and other stakeholders to get a fuller picture of the need for IT transformation - as well as measuring how this changes over time.

Finances

Of course, with any change project, we’ll inevitably need to provide a financial rationale for our desired changes. So, we need to be able to set financial goals for IT transformation projects.

This is pretty self-explanatory in principle, but it takes a bit of legwork to get a realistic picture of the potential monetary impact all the same.

As ever, there are two different ways to create financial goals:

  1. In terms of cost savings.
  2. In terms of revenue increases.

In other words, transformation can either mean cutting operating costs - like wages, licenses, or other resources - or bringing in more money - for example, by allowing you to scale up commercial processes.

Any time we think about undertaking any kind of IT transformation, we’ll need to have a clear idea of how it will affect profitability in one of these two ways - even if the impetus for change isn’t primarily financial.

An amazing example you might not be aware of is the fact that most IT leaders are actually under pressure to reduce cybersecurity spending - although they obviously need to achieve more than ever:

IT Transformation Cost Cutting Stats

(Microsoft )

Employee satisfaction

Employee satisfaction might not be the first thing that pops into your head when you think about IT, but it’s actually one of the ways that IT transformation can have the most powerful impact on your business.

This makes a lot of sense when you take a little bit of a step back. Think about it. Almost everything your employees do day-to-day requires them to interact with technology - regardless of what device or software platforms they’re using.

So, even though they might only directly interact with their IT colleagues when something goes wrong, the effectiveness of your IT ops still has a huge impact on just about everything.

But how does this impact employee satisfaction?

Potentially in a whole array of different ways.

For example, we can remove a whole host of frustrations, like service interruptions, poor UX, unnecessary delays, and menial admin tasks - helping to make our employees’ lives happier and more productive.

How motivated would you be if you knew the tasks you were working contributed nothing? Well:

IT Transformation Data

(McKinsey )

Lead times

Delays, missed deadlines, and excessive wait-times can often feel like just facts of life for overstretched IT departments. In fact, teams are often complacent about this, despite it being emblematic of serious operational issues.

We’ve alluded to this already, but the role of IT transformation here is rationalizing your resource allocation, providing a basis for prioritizing business-critical projects, and ensuring that we’re consistently providing business value.

Undertaking IT transformation will also often expose the need for increased resources for particular activities. For instance, if the core issue that’s causing problems with your lead times is simply that your IT team is understaffed.

Alternatively, IT transformation can help us to improve our planning efforts with better data visibility. Or methodological and technical improvements might help us to output solutions more quickly.

For example, through low-code development.

Incident rates

IT incidents of all kinds are a serious matter. It doesn’t matter if it’s a data breach, a service interruption, or a physical hazard or hardware failure. Incidents always expose your business to unnecessary risk, and so must be addressed as quickly as possible.

Besides this, they also present us with the opportunity to learn how similar incidents can be prevented in the future.

In both cases, IT transformation plays a critical role. On the one hand, we have the issue of agility and incident preparedness. Here, IT transformation helps to ensure that we have sufficient agility and preparedness within our incident response processes.

On top of this, implementing learnings gathered from IT incidents will generally feed into new IT improvement and transformation efforts.

IT Incident

Future planning

Finally, IT transformation is critical for achieving scalability and longevity alike. It’s no secret that technology moves fast. So does the business landscape. If you want to remain competitive, you’re going to need to move fast too.

When we prioritize strategic alignment between IT and our overarching business goals, we greatly improve our prospects of providing long-term, sustainable value across our organization.

For example, with cloud technologies and containerization, we can offer a high degree of adaptability, and fast turnaround for new custom solutions.

IT transformation is at the core of how your business responds to an ever-changing world.

Roadblocks, challenges & risks

Of course, IT transformation isn’t all plain sailing.

Rather, there’s extensive scope for things to go wrong. This can look very different from case to case - both in terms of the nature of the issue and the severity.

Therefore, it pays to have a clear understanding of the risks, challenges, and other issues that we’re dealing with.

Three guesses what we’re drilling into next.

That’s right. Let’s take a look at some of the key problems that can cause IT transformation projects to go off the rails.

Budgetary issues

Now, we said earlier that IT transformation is one way to improve your financial performance. However, it’s unlikely to do so immediately, or even necessarily in the medium term. Because of this, money can also be the undoing of your transformation efforts.

This scenario might play out a couple of different ways. You might not have the up-front capital that you need to make all of the changes you’d like to. Or you might not be able to convince other stakeholders to open the purse strings.

The key here is having a robust, verifiable prediction for the financial impact of your particular plan.

The other key budgetary issue to be conscious of is the prospect of overspend. That is, when IT transformation ends up costing more than you had anticipated - for instance because of unforeseen costs and project spillover.

In this case, the best cure is always prevention. When we overspend on a project, it’s very easy to enter a vicious cycle, where we continuously throw even more money at the problem to try and recoup our losses.

Internal blockers

An internal blocker is a colleague - or even a whole department - that doesn’t share your vision, and actively sets out to prevent it from taking shape.

Unfortunately, this problem can crop up at pretty much any level of your business - from the C-suite right down to on-the-ground colleagues.

The crux of the matter is that it’s crucial for you to bring stakeholders with you - to make them buy into your vision.

How do we do this?

The key is gaining agreement and recognition of the underlying problem. One huge aspect of this is finding a way to frame the issue in terms of individual colleagues’ specific concerns and pain points.

So, the CFO is mostly going to be worried about the cost/benefit breakdown of any transformations, but a developer will be more easily swayed if we can convince them they won’t need to do as much boring admin work.

Internal Blockers

(Finances Online )

Lack of consensus

Related to this is the situation where you get agreement on the fact that there is a problem, but you struggle to achieve consensus on what the solution is.

So, to return to our previous example, the developers and the C-suite might agree that there’s an issue but have a very different understanding of what’s at the root of it.

What then?

Well, there’s no single straightforward route out of this situation, sadly. It’s a tricky one for sure.

Instead, let’s think about an example to illustrate some broad points. Firstly, imagine you were tasked with solving an issue surrounding recurring errors in your asset management database.

As in, devices aren’t where they’re supposed to be - or we just don’t know where they are.

There are several ways we could approach this problem and different stakeholders will inevitably have their own preferences among them. A designer might think it’s a UX issue while a DevOps specialist might be more worried about our data integrity.

IT transformation requires a more holistic approach to find what’s empirically the right solution to provide business value.

Lack of expertise

Sometimes IT transformation projects go wrong, simply because we don’t have the skills or expertise we need internally. After all, IT transformation is an inherently cross-disciplinary activity.

We need technical knowledge, alongside ops skills and a high degree of business-specific commercial awareness.

That’s hard to find. Doubly so in one person.

Still, we’re going to need to fill this gap one way or another. So, we might pool our internal expertise, work with an external consultant, or find and recruit the talent we need.

Unclear expectations

Unclear expectations will torpedo any change project. IT transformation is no exception. If we don’t know what we’re trying to achieve, we’ll never achieve it. It’s imperative that we set goals effectively.

Otherwise, we’re wasting our time.

Thankfully, we’ve already covered most of what you need to know here. That is, the KPIs we saw earlier are the basis of how we’ll go about this - in terms of what we’ll measure at least.

We can combine this with the SMART framework - setting goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.

With these two elements in place, all that’s left is to share our expectations with relevant stakeholders.

Not enough data

Other times, things go off the rails because we don’t have the right data. Or at least, the right people don’t have the right data, in the right place or at the right time.

This is, unfortunately, probably the most common stumbling block for IT transformation. Without data-driven insights, how are we supposed to make lasting, changes to our IT operations?

Usually, though, the issue isn’t so much that the data doesn’t exist. Rather, most businesses just lack the tools they need to leverage their existing data.

As such, it may be worthwhile getting your DataOps in order before thinking about further transformation projects.

Dashboards

Too many other projects

Big transformative changes can often fall by the wayside when there’s other, more urgent-seeming work to do. This might be client-facing work, firefighting, or just the daily grind of pushing out solutions as and when they’re needed.

In any case, it’s not so strange for short-term priorities to take precedence over longer-term ones.

Honestly, though, this is more likely to be symptomatic of a more deep-seated problem than to be the root cause of your transformation failures as such.

So, if we want IT transformation to be a priority, we need to think about what’s preventing us from making this a reality - whether it be a financial, technical, cultural, or other kind of issue.

Internal processes and procedures

Finally, internal paperwork and red tape can quickly stifle change and innovation. If you’ve ever worked in a large organization, this won’t come as a surprise. For example, enterprises often have strict vendor approval processes.

Then we have legal, financial, and intellectual property policies to deal with.

In extreme cases, this can stop your transformation efforts dead in their tracks. Just as often though, it will simply constrain our options or send us down particular paths.

For example, enterprise IT teams often prefer open-source solutions, as they can more easily comply with internal policies and procedures, often having the net effect of helping to expedite solutions.

We’ll check out some examples of this a little bit later.

Resourcing, planning & transformation capabilities

Next, we can shift our attention to the inputs, resources, and capabilities that we’ll need to have in place for successful IT transformation.

We’ve touched on some of the important ideas here already - at least in passing.

However, so far, we haven’t given a comprehensive overview of all of the different resources you’ll need to account for to make a success of your transformation efforts.

With that in mind, here are the categories of input that you’ll need to consider.

Finances

First up, money. You’re going to need it - obviously. Ultimately, the goal is to recoup any upfront costs you incur. And then some.

Still, we’re going to need to convince the finance team that there’s a business case for IT transformation, as we’ve said already.

But where exactly do these costs come from? And how much can we expect to spend?

How long is a piece of string?

IT transformation costs can range from basically zero to tens of millions of dollars. Investing in a new suite of cloud-based resource planning tools will obviously rack up a much bigger bill than tinkering around the edges of your code review processes.

So, it just wouldn’t be useful to generalize.

Rather, it’s more valuable to gain a solid grasp of the various ways that costs can arise, including software licenses, human resources, capital investment, and more.

Let’s think about some of the biggest culprits here.

Knowledge, talent, and expertise

Talented, experienced employees don’t come cheap. In fact, even finding talented prospective hires is expensive, let alone paying their salaries - or their consulting fees if you’re working with contractors.

So what are we looking for exactly? How can we tell if we’ve found the right person for the job?

Let’s think about hard knowledge and skills first, and we’ll return to some important qualities a little bit later.

One of the big problems here is that IT transformation requires quite a broad skill set - well beyond just development or project management experience. Naturally, such skills come along with a hefty salary expectation.

Besides this, we will need to account for all of the other colleagues that will be drawn into transformation projects - be they developers, designers, data professionals, QAs, or any other role - along with the opportunity costs associated with the work they’d be doing otherwise.

That leads us neatly to…

Project capacity

Project capacity refers to how easily your team can take on new initiatives - in terms of finding the necessary time, budget, and labor allocation. In other words, is this something we can actually deal with?

An important step here that many businesses fail to account for is factoring in your concrete deliverables when planning around capacity.

For example, when we think about our team’s workloads, it’s vital that we do so in the context of our expected delivery timelines.

In turn, this will illustrate whether or not our expectations are realistic with our current staffing, or if we’ll need to allocate additional resources toward our IT transformation goals.

Technical capabilities

Technical capabilities are probably the element of transformation capacity that IT professionals are most comfortable with.

The most obvious example of this is infrastructure. Say you wanted to build a suite of self-service tools to take responsibility for as many data management tasks as possible away from your IT team.

There are a couple of obvious issues relating to technical capability that we’ll need to address.

First, there’s hosting. So, we’ll need the ability to deploy our new tools to a suitable cloud environment that meets our needs for performance and security.

At the user’s end, we’ll need to ensure that individual employees have the tools they need to access our solutions, both in terms of hardware and software.

We’ll also need to think about the technical solutions that will be required to maintain the validity, consistency, and integrity of any data we manage with these new self-service tools.

Cultural, organizational, and leadership qualities

Finally, we have the more qualitative, soft-skills angle on IT transformation. This is often the hardest piece of the puzzle to pin down. Often, the most effective leaders are kind of sui generis - they have distinctive qualities that are nonetheless hard to define.

Of course, that’s not very helpful - is it?

Probably best to focus on the qualities that we can identify then, right?

Ultimately, what we want here is the ability to enact cultural change within our organization. This can naturally be achieved through a range of different means, with important soft skills including persuasion, mediation, inspiration, and strategic communications more broadly.

Besides this, there are a couple of other cultural and organizational factors that we need to keep in mind.

Indeed, our existing internal culture plays an important role in facilitating IT transformation. Think about it. If we have an established culture of innovation and openness to change, things will obviously go a lot smoother at pretty much every stage.

By contrast, if we have more of a sticky, resistant-to-change culture, where employees are not open to innovation, then IT transformation is going to be markedly more difficult to implement.

We could draw the same distinction between cultures that prioritize data-driven decisions and those that don’t - or even performance-focused businesses and more complacent ones.

How to create an IT transformation strategy that drives ROI

Now that we have a full picture of what IT transformation requires, it’s time to think about some more actionable material. One of the most important things - and like what you care about the most - is how exactly we can go about creating an IT transformation strategy.

Now every business is unique - so you’ll also have your own unique goals, both in terms of where you are now and where you’d like to get to.

So, we can’t give you an off-the-shelf strategy that will apply to any business.

Instead, what you need is a reproducible framework for creating an effective IT transformation plan, no matter the context.

Luckily, that’s exactly what we have for you. Here are the seven steps you can follow to implement IT transformation effectively.

A quick note before we dive in though - we need to reflect a pretty wide scope of potential strategies. So, you won’t necessarily need every step along the way.

With that in mind, here’s what you need to know.

1. Information gathering and goal setting

First thing’s first - we need to determine how we’re doing at present and then figure out where we’d like to be instead. Then, we can create SMART goals on the basis of this, in order to flesh out your existing knowledge of the problem you’re setting out to solve.

But the first step is simply gathering relevant data.

Obviously, this is contingent on your actual priorities. So, we can start by zooming in on the particular issue we want to address and then figure out how we’re going to operationalize them.

That is - turn them into a measurable metric.

Sometimes, we’ll be able to rely on existing data sets, or at least on readily available information. For example, if your core pain point is to do with how admin tasks are divided up and managed across your business - say to improve how this is delegated.

We’d want to measure the impact of our current processes at two levels:

  1. How effectively the actual tasks are completed.
  2. How this affects the teams involved.

Let’s think about how we could operationalize key aspects of each of these.

First, the task itself - for the sake of argument, let’s say it’s a data entry workflow. Some of the specific metrics we’d be interested in would include accuracy, average completion times, data integrity, and process adherence, to name but a few.

At the level of the teams involved, we’re interested in things like labor costs, overall workloads, and the impact on other tasks, on the one hand. We can also zoom out and think about indirect impacts, like morale, job satisfaction, and even employee retention.

In either case, the next step is determining how we’re going to attach a figure to our chosen variables - either with existing data sources or information gathering through surveys or system monitoring, to name a couple of options.

We then use this to make an informed decision about what our IT transformation goals will be.

2. Defining your scope

Next, we want to set out the precise scope of our IT transformation efforts. We’ve said several times today that IT transformation is a broad term - potentially comprising anything from high-level methodological changes to very specific technical interventions.

As long as the end goal is strategic alignment, the means of reaching this can vary wildly.

So, a little bit of specificity and focus go a long way. We can break this down into a couple of more easily-grasped ideas.

The first emanates from the core problem we’re trying to solve. That is, the more effectively we set our goals in the previous step, the less we need to do here, as we know the discrete issue we’re hoping to address.

The other thing we need to do is define our scope in terms of the kinds of activities we’re primarily going to focus on. We don’t need to know the nitty-gritty details just yet, but we do want to have a picture of where we’ll focus our efforts.

For instance, are you mainly attacking process and governance aspects of IT transformation or are you thinking more specifically about discrete technical solutions?

We can drill a bit deeper here. We might not have all the details fleshed out just yet, but nonetheless know that an entirely new work order request and project sign-off process will form the basis of our changes.

The more detail we have here the better. That’s because the next step is…

3. Estimating impact and costs

In other words, making a business case for your IT transformation initiatives. There are several important reasons why you need to get this right - including stakeholder buy-in, budget allocation, project planning, performance analysis, and more.

So how do we perform a cost/benefit analysis for IT transformation?

Let’s take this one step at a time. We’ll think about costs first since that’s a bit easier to wrap our heads around. First of all, it’s important to itemize your requirements for whatever interventions you’re going to make.

Itemize Costs

Then we can begin to assign time estimates and any other capital investment that will be required for each. Therefore, the more granularly we can break down each intervention into its constituent tasks, the better.

On to estimating the impact we’ll have. This is a bit trickier, of course. Consider the fact that our main priority might not actually be financial as such. For example, if you’re using transformation to try and produce more consistent outcomes from a particular task.

However, no matter what goal you set earlier, you’ll need to be able to express it in monetary terms in order to calculate the return on investment. In our example, we’d be concerned with how improving consistency would either boost revenue or cut costs.

So we might calculate the savings we’d make by reducing wastage, for instance.

5. Non-technical interventions

Now that we know what we want to achieve, we can start to draw up a plan.

First, we need to think about some of the non-technical strategies we can turn to for IT transformation. As we’ve alluded to several times already, these are every bit as important as their more technical counterparts.

However, just like before, we couldn’t possibly give a comprehensive overview of every single change you might implement.

Rather the more effective thing to do will be to peruse the broader categories of interventions that we’re interested in and the special considerations you’ll need to make around each one during IT transformation.

Essentially, most non-technical interventions will either be structural or process-related - at least broadly speaking.

In other words, we can point to non-technical interventions that are explicitly concerned with a specific process - within or outside of IT. Or, those that relate to changes to the broader way our IT team operates - including, though not limited to its structure and makeup.

Let’s think about an example of each.

Process-related transformations are a bit easier to grasp, so we’ll start there. What we’re really talking about is a substantive change in the way your IT team does one particular thing - or an IT change that impacts how another team carries out a particular task.

For example, we might rejig how competencies and responsibilities are delegated within a different task. Or we might alter the information that we require within a particular request workflow.

The important thing here is invariably efficiency within the affected process.

Structural changes, as the name suggests, go a bit deeper. This includes some of the strategies that we alluded to earlier, like changing reporting structures, job titles, or even downsizing or expansion.

This time, the goal is to build efficiency on a wider scale, as well as implement any cultural or organizational goals we might have identified earlier.

5. Technical interventions

Next, it’s time to start designing the actual interventions we’re going to make. As we’ve stressed several times now, these can take a huge range of different forms. For the purposes of this step-by-step guide, we’ll divide them into two very broad categories.

These are technical and non-technical interventions. We might use one or other or both.

So, to start, let’s think about the kinds of technical interventions we can make as part of our IT transformation strategy.

Obviously, we can’t cover every solution and technology you might ever need.

Instead, what we can do is think about the different classes of tools and interventions that you’re most likely to leverage for IT transformation.

Specifically, we’ll think about three groups of strategies - automation, cloud transformation, and low-code development.

Automation is totally ubiquitous nowadays - and its benefits are well documented, to say the least. What do we need to know specifically for the purposes of IT transformation though?

Remember, the name of the game is strategic alignment. Therefore, IT’s priority must be providing the wider organization with sufficient capacity to automate tasks. In other words, empowerment, and facilitation.

This might equally mean creating automation solutions centrally and rolling them out to end users or empowering on-the-ground colleagues to do this for themselves.

Cloud transformation represents a more fundamental shift. Really, it’s a topic in and of itself. However, we can quickly think about some of the key concerns for IT transformation specialists.

If we think about the strategic rationale for cloud-based solutions, the key priorities are the agility, flexibility, and reliability that we can offer to users - along with security and performance, of course.

IT transformation means grounding even the most technical decisions in the business value that we’re going to provide for real-life users. For example, empowering users with self-service apps, real-time dashboards, and other innovative, cloud-based internal tools.

Finally, low-code development offers a slightly different spin on IT transformation.

That is, it’s a technical intervention in that it concerns the tools we use to build solutions. However, it’s just as much a cultural and operational shift in how we build them.

What do we mean by this?

First of all, low-code hugely alters the prerequisites for building tools in terms of skills, knowledge, and experience. Effectively, this opens up the door for non-specialists to build the kinds of tools that once required professional developers.

Besides this, we can also point to a marked shift in the time, money, and other resources required to output solutions. Custom applications that might once have taken months can now be turned around in as little as a few minutes.

We’ll see how Budibase is leading the charge a little bit later.

6. Implementation

Whichever interventions you’ve chosen, next, we begin to put out IT transformation plan into action. This is called implementation. It won’t surprise you to hear that the details here are going to vary depending on what exactly you need to implement though.

However, there are a number of considerations that we’ll need to make for just about any kind of IT transformation strategy.

One prominent example of this is training. IT transformation will almost inevitably come along with some additional training burden - whether this is upskilling colleagues on a new platform or simply filling them in on what’s required under a new process.

Another thing you’ll need to consider is your requirements around monitoring and performance analysis. Like many things in life, this comes down to data.

Obviously, just like before the first step here is identifying and gathering the data you need. We’ve covered this already with regard to setting goals for IT transformation so there’s no sense repeating ourselves.

Performance monitoring goes one step further though.

Specifically, we need to think about how we’re going to get this data in front of the right people, for them to garner insights. For example, empowering departmental leaders with real-time interactive dashboards and admin panels.

We’ll return to this in a second.

First, though, it’s also important to note that the implementation stage or IT transformation can often uncover additional requirements or resourcing needs.

This isn’t necessarily the end of the world. It’s normal that you might have overlooked certain incidental costs. However, it’s important to be vigilant here, as this also has the potential to escalate into scope creep or even undermine your wider efforts.

7. Monitoring and review

Finally, once our transformations are in place, we need ongoing monitoring and review. We saw a little bit about how this works a second ago.

Let’s take a step back and think about the broader purpose of performance monitoring. Really, it serves a few key functions.

First, we’re trying to see if our IT transformation strategy is having our desired impact.

Second, if it isn’t, we want to figure out why.

And third, we want to figure out what we could be doing better - whether we’re meeting our goals or not.

As a bonus, ongoing monitoring and review also help us to identify other opportunities where we’d benefit from IT transformation.

The key principle at play here is continuous improvement. So, no matter what aspect of our IT operations we’re focused on, there will always be scope for ongoing optimization, improvement, and efficiency savings.

That is, there will always be something you can do better.

5 tips for successful IT transformation

At this point, we’ve covered the core steps behind creating an IT transformation strategy. However, this kind of framework could only ever be a roadmap.

Like any major change project, IT transformation benefits massively from contextual awareness, organization-specific knowledge, and individual professional experience.

In other words, there are no shortcuts to becoming a bonafide expert here.

Despite this, it’s certainly valuable to learn from the experiences of others. One way to do this is by thinking about some actionable tips that we can bring to our own transformation projects.

With that in mind, here are five of our favorite tips for successful IT transformation.

1. Involve stakeholders early

This sounds like a simple idea, but it will nonetheless make an enormous difference to the success of your IT transformation efforts - both in terms of the kinds of solutions you come up with and in terms of how successfully you sell them internally.

To understand why let’s quickly zoom out. Who do we mean by stakeholders?

Basically, anyone, internally or externally, who is going to be affected by the changes we make. From on-the-ground admin specialists to the very top of the organization - they’ve all got a potential stake in what direction our IT transformation strategy goes.

The reasons for involving them in the process early are three-fold.

Firstly, we know they’re going to have different perspectives. The date entry specialist will almost inevitably see any given business problem differently from the CEO. Both could have valid ideas and we want to get a full understanding, so it pays to listen to everybody.

Secondly, if we leave it too late to start asking for feedback on our transformation agenda, the more we risk overlooking important issues - and then having to go back on ourselves to account for them.

Thirdly, involving colleagues early in the process makes it a whole lot easier to secure stakeholder buy-in. This makes intuitive sense.

The idea is that we’re trying to create a shared vision of things ought to be, rather than dumping top-down changes on our colleagues.

2. Align leaders at all levels

We touched on the idea of consensus-building earlier. To reiterate, the principle here is that things are going to go a lot smoother when we have a shared idea of what we’re trying to achieve and how we’re going to achieve it.

One extra thing to consider here is that businesses are complicated beasts.

A key part of this is the way decisions are made - plus the sheer number of interrelated decisions made at different levels of the organization.

At the top, we have the C-suite. Below this, we could have dozens of layers of middle management across individual teams, departments, and projects.

The more closely aligned all of these leaders are, the more successful our IT transformation will be.

But how do we go about this in practice?

One option is to focus on creating cross-functional value. So, we prioritize the things that will provide the broadest benefit, while also seeking to maximize interdepartmental learning and collaboration.

3. Manage expectations

Another potentially major pitfall is that our partners and stakeholders might not have a realistic view of what we’re trying to achieve through IT transformation. Sometimes, people expect the world when we actually have very specific, limited goals.

This is especially problematic if those same people are the ones that are assessing our performance.

The key here is knowing how to manage expectations effectively.

However, IT transformation comes along with some unique challenges in this regard. For the most part, this stems from what we call an information imbalance.

That is, you know your IT department - along with what it is and is not capable of. Other leaders in the organization might not.

This can lead to tension, miscommunications, and even conflict.

Again, this speaks to the importance of having specific, measurable goals, as well as early efforts toward stakeholder buy-in and consensus-building.

4. People first, product second

This one is a little bit more philosophical. We’ll get the most out of our IT transformation efforts when we have our priorities in order. If you remember nothing else, it should be that people must come first, not particular solutions.

When we adopt a human-first approach to our IT ops, we essentially make providing business value the default position.

For example, say we were tasked with improving the way our IT team supports planning activities across the business. A product-centric approach to this might start with the assumption that the solution involves investing in a new ERP tool.

This is a pretty lazy assumption,

By contrast, the jumping-off point in a human-centered approach would be seeking to fully understand where IT can help to facilitate better decision-making, process efficiency, or resource utilization.

When we embed this idea into the culture of our IT team, we massively boost the value we can add across the entire organization.

5. Watch out for departmental differences

One easy pitfall that you want to avoid is failing to account for differences in how teams and departments operate across our business. On the one hand, these could be concrete things like their size, structure, or technical needs.

On the other, we might equally need to be conscious of less easily measured factors - things like culture, agility, autonomy, and change readiness.

For instance, the amount of independence given to individual colleagues can often vary wildly from department to department. In part, this is to do with the nature of the work they do. On top of that, different managers’ leadership styles will also come into play.

In any case, the point is that we want to avoid taking a broad-strokes approach to any transformation project.

This could mean making fairly minor accommodations.

For example, one big difference between two teams might be the typical level of technical literacy. So, say the marketing team is a bit more amenable to using new tools than their counterparts in the sales department, but we need to roll out a new CRM to both.

Either way, we need to implement the same basic technical changes, but we can still tailor our approach to each team in other ways. For instance, we might give the sales colleagues additional or more personalized training.

6. Prioritize scalability

Finally, scalability. With every decision we make during transformation projects, we need to think about the implications for scalability. We’re aiming for strategic alignment and effective business goals aren’t built on short-term thinking.

We need to sustainably provide value and align with business goals.

That means we don’t just need to meet the company’s present needs. We need to continue to do so in five or ten years - or more.

Anything we do today can constrain our future options or alter the relative costs and benefits of taking other actions down the line.

Scalability actually comes in two varieties. Firstly, vertical scalability, which is how easily we can add new capacity within existing functions or processes. For instance, bring new users on board.

Then we have horizontal scalability. This means bringing entirely new elements into our existing systems and processes. For example, adding a new functionality altogether.

Keep in mind that we want to maximize both to the extent that this is possible.

Tools for IT transformation

You’re probably also wondering about how you can build the technical capabilities that you need to transform your IT operations.

Obviously, no discussion of such a major change initiative could be complete without delving into how to build an appropriate tool stack.

Of course, this is a big question. We can’t generalize, every business’ requirements are obviously unique.

Instead, let’s think about some of the most common classes of tools that you’ll want to think about during your IT transformation efforts.

Here we go.

Cloud technology and containerization

Cloud-based solutions are actually more or less the norm nowadays. So what more can we say about this for the purposes of IT transformation?

One big trend at the moment is the move toward containerization. That is, bundling software with all of the libraries and dependencies needed to run it so that it can be deployed in any environment.

This results in a superior level of agility when building software, as well as affording the wider organization a high degree of flexibility, reliability, and scalability.

Check out our deployment docs to learn more about hosting Budibase with Docker or Kubernetes.

Automation platforms

Automation is obviously one of the most urgent priorities for modern businesses. However, this can take many, many different forms. More complex use cases will naturally require more technically complex solutions.

For example, there’s a very big difference between setting up an instant message notification for some event and totally automating your customer service processes.

As you might expect, this will require different sorts of automation platforms too.

So, there’d be very little point investing in an off-the-shelf RPA solution when what you really need is a relatively simple but nonetheless highly specific business rules engine.

Take a look at our guide to business process automation to learn more.

Data management tools

Data management is a bit trickier - simply because it can just mean so many different things in so many different contexts. We’ve said several times that data is the most important resource any business has.

It follows logically that the tools we use to manage this will have a large and diverse impact.

We can think about this at a whole array of different levels, from backend DBMS tools to CRUD interfaces for simple data management functions.

Therefore, we need to think about the full scope of your data stack, from DataOps, security, and validation, to more process-specific user-facing tools.

Integration tools

High levels of integrability are critical for modern IT systems. Businesses nowadays use more discrete tools than ever before - often for single functions. This isn’t when we also need our overall IT systems to be as sleek and streamlined as possible.

The answer is ensuring that all of these tools can work smoothly together. We can’t rely on every vendor to make sure their product is compatible with every other tool on the market though.

So, we need integration platforms - tools that allow us to connect a variety of third-party platforms together ourselves. For instance, market leader, Zapier.

The value of these kinds of tools is allowing us set up simple if/then automation rules across different platforms. For example, to pass data from one tool to another, when a certain event happens.

Check out our Zapier integration page to learn more.

Low-code development

Finally, we have no/low-code development platforms. These are exploding in popularity in recent years, as a faster, easier, and most cost-effective alternative to traditional development techniques.

In an era when most businesses struggle to find and retain talented developers, low-code is a total game changer.

On the one hand, we can empower our developers with a faster, easier way to output solutions, freeing them up to focus on more satisfying cognate tasks.

Alternatively, we can use low-code platforms to enable non-specialists to build solutions, without requiring them to go to the development team at all.

In other words, we’re reducing the technical barriers to building solutions - as the name suggests, the idea is that users can develop software with minimal custom code - if any at all.

However, the trouble is that the low-code space is becoming a crowded market. It’s also a pretty broad term. So, not only are there a huge number of options - they’re also aimed at different kinds of userbases and use cases.

This can make determining the best platform for your needs a pretty messy process.

We’re biased but we think that Budiabse is the smart option for busy IT professionals who need to build custom solutions, quickly and at scale.

Let’s take a look at why.

Budibase Screenshot

Budibase for busy IT teams

Budibase is revolutionizing the way businesses build performant, professional web apps. Say goodbye to solution backlogs, excessive lead times, and overstretched, burned-out IT teams.

Our open-source, low-code platform is designed for teams that need to create custom tools quickly, without compromising on quality.

Let’s take a look at why tens of thousands of businesses love to use Budibase.

Simplifity by default

Our guiding principle is simplicity by default, extensibility when you need it. We’re obsessive about making the most common development tasks, as easy as possible. You can even autogenerate a fully-functional CRUD app in just a couple of clicks.

Our design interface makes it a breeze to combine, nest, and arrange any of our built-in components and blocks to build fully custom UIs, with minimal coding skills.

Check out our product overview to learn more about using Budibase.

Extensibility when you need it

We also lead the pack for extensibility and customization. Use our dedicated CLI tools to build your own components and data sources - and leverage custom components across all of your Budibase tools.

With Budibase, it’s never been easier to create fully bespoke solutions for even the most niche use cases.

Check out our plug-ins documentation to learn more.

Connect your data

Budibase offers unparalleled support for external data sources. No one else in the low-code space even comes close. We offer built-in data connectors for SQL, Postgres, Airtable, Mongo, Couch, Oracle, S3, REST, Google Sheets, and more.

We also offer our own built-in database, with simple relationships and full support for CSV uploads.

Building your app’s data layer with Budibase is a cinch.

Automate workflows

Use Budibase to automate all sorts of administrative tasks. We offer a simple, flow-chart-based interface for building custom automation rules using any combination of our built-in triggers and actions.

Trigger your automations with user actions, system events, external WebHooks, and more.

Third-party integrations

Budibase is the ideal solution for building custom apps that integrate seamlessly with your existing tool stack. We offer extensive integrability using REST, WebHooks, and our internal API.

Use Budibase to automate workloads across multiple platforms and vendors, for totally seamless IT operations.

Optional self-hosting

With optional self-hosting, Budibase is the smart choice for enterprises and other security-focused organizations. Deploy to your own infrastructure with Docker, Digital Ocean, and Kubernetes.

We also offer proprietary cloud hosting, for hassle-free deployment. Check out our pricing page to learn more about both options.

Role-based access control

Use our fully configurable RBAC system to give every user the exact level of access they need to maximize security and usability.

Grant or restrict access to users at the level of data sources, queries, screens, or individual components, using simple dropdown selectors.

50+ free app templates

We have total confidence in our platform. Tens of thousands of companies around the world rely on Budibase to solve all kinds of business problems. But why take our word for it?

We’ve created over 50 free, customizable app templates to show off what Budibase is capable of.

To start building custom solutions the fast, easy way, sign up to Budibase for free today.