Digital transformation best practices (Article 6)

What best practices increase digital transformation success? This article explores best practices that reduce risk and increase digital transformation success.

In the previous article, I described obstacles to digital transformation. You can read it at this link.

Incorporate these best practices into your project plan to increase the likelihood of digital transformation success.

Lessons from digital transformation successes and failures

  1. Focus on the business opportunity, not the technology potential.
  2. Listen to your end-users. Delight them with your improvements. Respond thoughtfully to their comments or challenges to your plan and prototypes.
  3. Prioritize addressing people, process, and behavioural change. These topics are more important than cool technology.
  4. Avoid endless pilot purgatory. Don’t just conduct pilot after pilot. Instead, propose projects that solve real problems where you can move your digital transformation solution into production.
  5. Fail fast and learn fast. Don’t let others spin experimental failure as digital transformation failure. Set expectations that small failures will occur and form the basis for meaningful learning.
  6. Approach work with agility. Be willing to revise your scope significantly as you learn.
  7. Work directly for a project sponsor who sees an opportunity. Avoid working under a burdensome approval hierarchy.
  8. Remind stakeholders that business transformation takes effort, whether digital or not.

Digital transformation projects are not slam-dunk, simple projects. Nonetheless, digital transformation projects produce valuable business improvements.


Digital transformation is receiving lots of attention because the benefits to the business are real and substantial. It’s not some fantasy that consultants have dreamt up to increase their billable hours.

Modest projects can achieve digital transformation success. You don’t have to launch high-cost, high-risk, bet-the-farm programs to gain value.

To identify opportunities, listen for whining about unproductive busy work. That’s frequently a digital transformation opportunity.

For more information about digital transformation, click here to receive the Digital Transformation Weekly IT Newsletter from IT World Canada.


Take these actions to advance digital transformation at your organization:

  1. Start – Show some initiative. Don’t wait for someone to tell you.
  2. Start anywhere – It doesn’t matter where you start. Often financial reporting processes need improvement. Sometimes data loading processes for subsurface interpretation are tedious. Frequently operational data gathering and reporting processes are clunky. Engineering document control can be onerous.
  3. Start small – Improving administrative processes is where you can deliver some small, quick wins.
  4. Identify some irritants – Where are inconsistent numbers on reports annoying management? Where is rework occurring due to bad data or convoluted processes? Where is information being keyed manually from one system into another?
  5. Identify project sponsors – Identify a middle management sponsor for your improvement ideas. That person will provide support and communicate the results around the organization.
  6. Assess risks – Nothing is without risks. Understand the people change your improvement will cause and address it.
  7. Go easy on technology – New technology always adds risks to your project. Focus first on squeezing more value from the information technology you already own. Most organizations have more information technology than they’re using.
  8. Build understanding – Read some of the vast numbers of available resources about digital transformation on the web to help you shape your project.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Yogi Schulz
Yogi Schulz
Yogi Schulz has over 40 years of Information Technology experience in various industries. Yogi works extensively in the petroleum industry to select and implement financial, production revenue accounting, land & contracts, and geotechnical systems. He manages projects that arise from changes in business requirements, from the need to leverage technology opportunities and from mergers. His specialties include IT strategy, web strategy, and systems project management.

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