I remember a discussion from Tony Saldhana’s book on Why Digital Transformation Fail; it draws the experience of failed launch of Helathcare website and how and why it was not foreseen by the implementation team. One of the reasons for the failure of such launch was the integration of technology into large bureaucratic organization. I happened to notice similar failure by an Educational Organization who tried to conduct online examination for its courses. It is a major private organization with facility for student coaching. This year due to pandemic they have shifted from paper based examination to online proctored test. They have scheduled a examination and needed to cancel as students failed to log in to the servers for more than 2 from the start of the examination. One of the reasons cited for the cancelling the examination is the number of concurrent users who tried to log into the system. Organizations plan to go digital by leveraging the technologies but there are three inherent issues which are often ignored by the organizations. Those include missing the experience of the team who works on such projects who anticipate or scope for such challenge, missing leadership who can guide the team to overcome such obstacles and spearheading the transformation and finally timelines which are often pressing given that in case of failed education organization, the Prometric way of conducting the examination was sometime unforeseen.
It is not that organizations do not have people who are knowledgeable with relevant experience. It takes more than experience in organization like office dynamics and many times project managers with missing systems knowledge. Similarly, with the leadership and team, given the current conditions many organizations go for hybrid model of resourcing with many times key positions assigned to contractors to avoid up front cost to company on day to day operations. For this educational system also, they did not have any internal resources who were working on the platform development, rather the complete assignment was outsourced to managed by 3rd party.
Such issues often impair organizations with key competitive advantage as companies’ competitive advantage cannot be given to outside. Finally coming to the topic of timelines and pressure on the organizations to deliver at a quicker pace is something which is common in the current scenarios. We notice how the pandemic has put pressure on organizations to transform overnight requiring organizations to change themselves to meet the requirements. Over the year’s companies chalked multiyear plans to go digital which are suddenly dashed by the need to go live within limited timelines. Since many organizations who are going live with digital projects, the failed implementation of Prometric examination by the organization is a very good case to plan properly and incorporate all the required factors. As history is the witness of the number of failed implementations with one market research quote as much as 94% of federal projects fail in case of USA and 50% exceed the budgetary requirements.
Given above case study of failed prometric examination issues – how companies go about avoiding the same. There is excellent play book by Tony Saldhana on Why Digital Transformations fail and has very well provided a framework for identifying the same. Other requirements to avoid those pitfalls include
- Setting up of dedicated digital team and office who can manage the digital transformations. Team should consist of business process experts, technologies, business unit leaders and project managers with transformation experience.
- Setting up digital office should aim at setting up of complete CoE with key emphasis on process management office whose aim to map customer journey maps and user success stories. The process management office should be experienced to identify the gaps in the current processes and means to overcome. Design thinking team can also be part of the team.
- Aim for incremental improvement, as explained in the Digital Transformation playbooks, successful transformations aim to work on the incremental agile methodology to go digital. This might start with simple adjustments to overall revamping the entire ERP platform
- Use of Change Management team who work as key customer champions who help in percolation of the processes within the organizations.
To conclude, the case studies of digital transformation and customer success journey stories into transformation give valuable lessons. The recent example of the case study which I have highlighted is simple example as more and more organizations embark on digital transformation and assess what is right for the organization and what is it that makes the organizations fail; we will find key learnings.