Ensuring IT and Business Transformation Success

Why do most IT and Business Transformation projects fail? IT and Business Transformation projects often fail for the same key reasons, namely; 

  • Not being realistic as to what can be accomplished;
  • Putting the wrong leadership and team in place;
  • Not knowing how to avoid the ‘big bang’ of delivery.

Without having the ability to recognize and resolve these issues, you are probably doomed for failure. Instead of walking into this trap, here are a few techniques you can try to help you and your team be more successful.

Failure Premise – Not being realistic in terms of what can be accomplished

What are you really trying to do? Has anyone done this before? To be more realistic, take a look at whether or not your overall plan makes sense: Are you taking some  key initial steps, like piloting and prototyping your solutions before going for the ‘big bang?'  Look at each item of delivery and define what the criteria are for success. If you don’t have a plan, or can’t figure out a plan, how will you know what can be really be accomplished? Each item in the plan should have a simple measure that will tell a powerful success story.

Failure Premise – Putting the wrong leadership and team in place 

How often have we sat in meetings and said to ourselves, this leader is not getting it or this team is doomed?  This happens more often than any of us want to admit. IT and Transformation projects will often get trapped in the depths of detailing the leadership team, the working team and the time commitment of each person. This is often a cover-up, knowing the right person for the project is probably not available or can only give you 25% of their time, so the team has to juggle the rest. If you find yourself caught in this situation and you are not getting the right people to either lead or become part of the team, STOP the initiative! Don’t move forward until you can get the right people in place. And make sure you are applying this rule to the WHOLE team, meaning your leadership, the vendor leadership, the IT leadership, the business leadership and any other vested group that plays a role.

Failure Premise  Not knowing how to avoid the ‘big bang’ of delivery

If you are sitting in the planning or team meeting and someone puts on the table that they are going to go live and do it all at once or in a ‘big bang’ approach, alarms should be going off in your head. Having been burnt on this topic several times, get real and start raising questions that will get your team on a successful track. 

Transformation projects are not about big bang. They are about the ability of the projects to drive change that is transforming on many levels. In some cases, you and your team may not even have a clue of what the actual results will be one to two years after you 'go live.' Why not get in front of this and create your own destiny, roll things out in smaller batches of delivery, use a trusted partner to help you test and prove what you are doing before rolling it out to the larger organization?  Plan for failure in a pro-active way that will allow the team to learn from the events and move forward, rather than experiencing a ‘big bang’ failure and not being able to recover and move forward.  Manage the risk profile so that you can get the best from the real capabilities of your team.