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Top implementers of digital transformation projects are in the minority, according to a global study entitled ‘How the implementation of organisational change is evolving’ conducted by Mckinsey. It was revealed that the ability to successfully manage change has declined since 2014, with leaders failing to own and commit to the change being made, role modelling new behaviours, and devoting appropriate time and energy to supporting the change. Locally, Cassie Lessing, managing director, Strato IT Group, provider of business system solutions including StratoPOD, says that the same lack of commitment to change management remains the Achilles heel of digital transformation projects.

“While local interest in digitisation continues to grow across a multitude of sectors, an understanding of the importance of change management and how to successfully roll out a digital transformation project remains lacking,” says Lessing.

Despite significant investment as a result of increasing pressure from customers and in an effort to remain relevant, digitisation projects are in danger of failing due to a lack of change management: “This process is lengthy and complex. Once we get to the roll out phase it is critical that the users are as ready as the digital platform is when going live,” says Lessing.

He says that it is common for the digitisation task team to squarely focus on the business outcomes, budget and resourcing. By not really comprehending the critical role of a quality change management initiative during the digitisation journey, these projects will always be at risk. “The ideal approach is to ensure that change management is central to the transformation process. It’s not an afterthought or option for consideration.  It needs to be as integral to the project as the technology is to the strategy defined.”

There are change elements within each phase of digital transformation and these need to be managed. To discount the role that it plays, according to Lessing, will only place the project in danger of failing or being delayed – wasting time, money and resources.

While digital transformation becomes increasingly key to the success of tomorrow’s businesses, they are proving laborious and time consuming, with some failing outright. The most common reason being the lack of change management. If this is not addressed within the initial vision phase, these projects will continue to disappoint.