Steering digital projects to success

Tim Hall, head of innovation at boxxe, examines how to avoid the business ‘blind spots’ when introducing new digital projects.

For many businesses, the pandemic has necessitated massive changes as teams adjust to new ways of working. In fact, our own digital transformation research report showed that 61 per cent of businesses in the UK have introduced new digital solutions or fast-tracked plans to integrate digital projects purely in reaction to the changing landscape.

Despite being implemented in order to adapt to issues caused by the pandemic, the changes businesses are making have brought about a wide range of innovations with improved security, a boost to productivity and better customer service perceived as some of the biggest benefits. However, the need to act quickly has caused problems for some, as our research shows 35 per cent of business leaders have witnessed a digital project fail.

There are a number of factors that can cause a digital project to fail but our research shows the same types of issues crop up most often as blind spots for businesses. These areas should be carefully considered when embarking on new digital transformation projects: resourcing, budgeting, and the vision.

Poor team resourcing

Staff not being involved early enough in the project process, managers not setting out clear roles and responsibilities for teams and the IT department not being aligned with the wider company when rolling out digital projects were some of the most common reasons managers listed for digital project failure. Our research shows that over half of UK businesses have neglected to staff digital projects in the past.

Early staff involvement can make all the difference to the success of a digital project and senior level buy-in is arguably the most fundamental element for setting the tone and priority of any new undertaking.

A good starting point for any digital project is to ensure key stakeholders are fully aware of the importance it plays. In many cases digital solutions are essential, not only for providing better customer service and saving valuable time and resource, but also in safeguarding against security issues which have the potential to cost millions and destroy a company’s credibility if left unmanaged.

Budgeting

In addition to the blind spots businesses have when it comes to successfully implementing digital transformations, the research also shows that more than a third of UK businesses have undertaken digital projects without ring-fencing additional budget.

When essential works are needed and budgets are restricted, it can be helpful for teams to first analyse the key success criteria. Once you are able to outline a hierarchy of requirements, you can then evaluate what is achievable within a sliding budget scale and allocate funds accordingly.

Lack of vision

Teams lacking a clear vision and plan for a project, failing to scope activity properly before starting and trying to fit the business around a technology rather than the other way around were other root causes for digital project failure that business decision-makers listed in the our research.

Organisations work with a third party for all or part of the project management process for several reasons. That could be because they lack the expertise, time or resource to manage projects internally. As well as saving valuable internal resource, third party specialists can be helpful in sense-checking plans, filtering options, suggesting the most cost-effective options.

Managed services providers can secure deals the company might not otherwise have access to and can create a roadmap for project success. In most cases, third-party support pays for itself in the long run.

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