Overcoming your digital transformation challenges

There isn’t an organisation out there that isn’t in the throes of some sort of digital transformation. Some may still be in the early stages of their journey, others well advanced; some may be focused on smaller, incremental change projects, others on more expansive, progressive visions.

But for all that uniqueness and singularity, there’s a lot that’s very common across both private and public sector organisations. Drivers, for one thing, the reasons why we embark on digital transformation in the first place. The outcomes we are seeking tend to fall into a familiar list, from process optimisation and cost reduction right through to employee satisfaction and business continuity. We all know why we’re here, in other words.

But there’s something else familiar to most of us – the challenges around making good change happen, the barriers to achieving our various desired outcomes. Negotiating the ‘blockers’ is fraught because situations are invariably nuanced and it’s not always the same obvious things in play – for every scenario where the technology may be lacking or the process is imperfect you’ll have another where corporate culture is the killer or individual attitudes the enemy of progress. Or there’s the perfect storm of everything going on!

That said, if you can identify the barriers, you can better plan for their removal. Look out for:

Resource limitations

Capacity, finance and technical skills can all impact on transformation timelines – ensure they are all honestly captured in a current state analysis so you are forewarned and forearmed and can strategise and compensate accordingly. Your project needs a roadmap with clear, measurable objectives – the greater the diligence and openness at this stage, the more likely you are to reach your goals.

Cultural resistance

It’s almost hard-wired into us, this resistance to change. And that can have an unwelcome double whammy effect, with it risking engagement with the transformation program itself and the subsequent adoption of the new systems and processes when introduced. Accept the importance of winning the hearts and minds of users – and don’t underestimate the efforts needed to corral and cajole.

Lack of c-suite sponsorship

You need a voice on the board, a champion for the program end-to-end. Otherwise your transformation program will suffer from a lack of visibility and run the risk of coming adrift from the overall business objectives. Strong leadership and clear articulation can help create a culture that is more accepting of change, even if it requires incentivising particular behaviours.

Delayed value

Just as people are resistant to change, they’re also impatient for results so focus on the quick wins – think jam today, rather than jam in a few months’ time. Prioritise those projects that deliver an early return on investment or demonstrable improvement in user experience. A positive experience of a smaller transformation project will help garner support for larger initiatives.


There may be a desire to recruit, train and motivate people with the right skills and generally ‘plough your own furrow’ – after all, who understands your business as well as you? But if you are under pressure to deliver results quickly, then do you really want that all on your shoulders and to cut yourself off from help? There is a mature network of systems integrators and managed service providers out there – try dipping into it for the specialist skills, project management expertise or a complete outsourced experience that can make your digital transformation program a reality.

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