Facing Risk in Major Transformations (and Coming Out Ahead)

Insights | 10 April 2017

Large transformation projects require a singular focus and steady hand to succeed. Especially at the C-level, where a “North Star” strategic vision is vital. Even so, risk remains ever-present.

To help speed and smooth your journey, we’ve compiled some of the top global perspectives when it comes to managing large-scale organisational changes.

But first, why focus on major transformations?

Gone are the days of IT and project management professionals mainly focusing on maintaining business as usual or merely “keeping the lights on.” The competitive demands are too great now. Further, as companies face new regulations and related new procedures, the expectation is swift execution.

Pressures are also coming from within the discipline.

Automic[1], a global software company, released a study in 2014 that revealed 70 percent of IT leaders felt they had not taken enough advantage of “all the new technology available to run the business more efficiently” despite understanding the benefits.

What’s holding us back?

According to the Automic survey:

  • 31 percent of those surveyed cited lack of funding
  • 18 percent a lack of vision
  • 15 percent IT limitations
  • 12 percent lack of “board support”
  • 10 percent focus on “the day to day”
  • 10 percent culture
  • 2 percent lack of talent
  • 2 percent regulation

Here’s more: “Thirty-two percent of the executives interviewed felt fearful of the risks inherent in pursuing edgy new ideas that may not succeed, hesitant of the risks and the damage it may cause to them personally and their team.”

That fear seems pervasive. Only 10 percent of respondents felt they had even entered a transformation stage at all.

Sound familiar?

There is little debate that transformation, done well, can lead to better business results, the survey said, including advances in:

  • Cloud computing
  • Process, data and risk management
  • Business automation

So what’s next?

Commit to Change

Remember when you learned to ride a bike, or taught your own children how to? In each case, there was a point where an uncertain wobble gave way to steady forward motion. Likewise, IT leaders need to learn how (and when) to push and step back.

At PM-Partners, our transformation experts have identified key prerequisites[2] that can help foster greater success in large-scale projects:

  1. Translate strategy into objectives and measurable progress.
  2. Choose the right delivery model, present options, and conduct programme design.
  3. Put the necessary decision making structures into place.
  4. Assess experience, capacity and capability for this scale of change.
  5. Have a plan to deal with resistance.

Organisational readiness, for one, is surprisingly easy to get wrong. Even highly-cited academic studies[3] admit the issue is complex: “a multi-level, multi-faceted construct.”

The Project Management Institute[4], drawing from three case studies, advises taking a strong upfront assessment. It should centre on organisational factors that are “positively and negatively affecting the project…in order to determine the required investment in change management activities.”

Find the Resources

More than a third of the respondents in the Automic survey cited lack of funding as the barrier to transformation, a larger percentage than any other reason, bigger than lack of talent.

Backing this up, a Piper Jaffray survey[5] released in January 2017 found 75 percent of CIOs are eager to pursue greater investment for major projects relating to servers, cloud computing and security.

Such results, gleaned from 160 CIOs across 10 industries, suggest the ultimate success in driving large-scale transformations requires business savvy, not technical expertise alone.

The bottom line is that CIOs and other IT leaders are looking to leverage their leadership skills to foster innovation. Leaders need to drive strategy and educate their peers in order for true transformation to take place, the survey said.

“Only in this way can IT meet the new demands of the digital world and the business expectations.”

Successful transformation relies upon clear strategy and a solid business case coupled with experienced execution and a consistent drive from senior executives.  Creating readiness and the right prerequisites to underpin the transformation effort is key.  Speak to us to find out how we can help with your transformation journey. 1300 70 13 14

[1] https://offers.automic.com/hs-fs/hub/241294/file-507260926-pdf/resources/corporate/Impact_of_Technology_On_Innovation.pdf
[2] /advise/transformation-advisory/
[3] https://implementationscience.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1748-5908-4-67
[4] https://www.pmi.org/learning/library/factors-influence-organizational-change-projects-6495
[5] http://www.crn.com/slide-shows/channel-programs/300083410/cio-survey-where-top-technology-it-execs-will-invest-in-2017.htm

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