10 steps to avoid digital transformation failure

Executive sponsors play a key role in the success (or failure) of digital transformations. Taking these essential actions will tip the scales in your favor.

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Most companies will face the moment where digital transformation will come to the top of the executive stack of priorities.  Typically, one or two executives are selected as the sponsors tasked with putting together the business case and the team to lead the organization into the future. 

It is no secret that a high percentage of digital transformations will fail in some aspect.   We have all seen the stories of companies that have gone wildly over budget or, worse yet, tanked the business with a failed go-live.  Much of the blame can be laid right at the feet of the sponsors.  

One reason these failures happen so frequently is that many companies have not attempted an IT-enabled transformation for about 10-15 years. In that span of time, a new generation of leaders have typically taken the reins and the role models or mentors who completed the last successful transformation have moved on.  The new executive sponsors often don't know what they don't know or are too proud to ask for help. 

The next thing you know, a system integrator (SI) has been hired to bring the company a methodology for change and the talent to get things done.  Typically, these SIs come with governance models and playbooks that define the role of executive sponsor with words and phrases like:

  • “Leads change”
  • “Makes senior executive decisions”
  • “Removes roadblocks”
  • “Allocates talent and resources”
  • “Signs-off on the business case”

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