Not all digital transformation programmes are created equal – but there are key learnings for success.
When organisations try to implement a Digital Transformation strategy, there are a few things to watch out for. Failure to observe best and tried practices or to 'reinvent the digital wheel' can unnecessarily lead to transformation programmes becoming unsustainable, sub-standard to what was intended and/or too costly to maintain.
Here we'll take a look and share key lessons from our recent ‘Digital Scars’ and why we were asked to support and intervene some digital transformation programmes that were on the brink of failure. We will provide an outline how these lessons can help you avoid digital transformation failures from materialising within your organisation.
The main reason that digital transformation programmes fail is a lack of a clear vision. The vision will be the guide for all aspects of your initiative or programme, from outcomes sought, business use cases requiring change, what features are being developed, how you select vendors to how success is defined. Without it, projects can go off in several different directions and become confusing for everyone involved.
The vision should be created by the leaders of your organisation, not just an individual or siloed team. It needs to be a clear set of goals that everyone understands and can rally around. It’s important to have a clear vision of where you want your organisation to be in the future. This will help everyone involved in the digital transformation programme to stay focused and accountable for their actions. If you're not sure what this looks like, it can be helpful to start by creating an image of where things are now and where you aspire to be.
Like solving a Rubick's cube, there are proven steps that can be emulated to achieve Digital Transformation success.
The second reason that digital transformation programmes fail is that they lack a plan. Without a plan in place, it's easy for your initiative or programme to get off track and become disjointed as they move forward. The plan should be built with the same kind of rigour that you would use to build a physical building. It should have clearly defined goals, timelines and milestones. These can help keep everyone focused on achieving their goals, rather than getting side-tracked by other distractions.
Finally, if the digital transformation programme isn't supported by senior executives and board members, it's unlikely to succeed. When there's a clear understanding of how important this initiative is from the top down, it sends a message down through the organisation that everyone needs to be on board with what's happening. Leaders though must also support despite failed initiatives and widely broadcast and accelerate the successes, however small. No Digital Transformation programmes are ever smooth, some elements will never reap the rewards intended, this though should not undermine the broader ‘plan’, (go back and read step 1 and step 2).
Digital transformation continues to be a major ‘buzz word’ and topic of interest across the general business world, with many companies looking to embrace new technologies for both improved productivity and delivery of services. It's at this point that organisations need to be aware of the pitfalls which may await them if there is insufficient resourcing or an attempt to apply solutions which cannot handle the complexity of their problem. It isn't enough to just boost performance figures on a single platform or just buying technology with the hope it will be the elixir or silver bullet to all of your organisational inefficiencies. Digital transformation needs to make sense and deliver actual benefits, not just provide short term gains.
There is no template for Digital Transformation; it's an evolutionary journey, not a sprint. All organisations have their own values, culture and legacy systems to contend with in this process so it can take time for all stakeholders to be on-board. That said, there are well established foundations or inclusions that we know lead to success, so don’t reinvent the core wheel.
Let us know your thoughts?
We are eager to understand your Digital Transformation journey and whether our experience concurs with yours.