Digital transformation is one of the major priorities in business today, as organisations of all sizes and sectors seek to retain market share and achieve operational gains through new technology.

Yet not all transformation programs are successful. The WIL Group (in which X-PM is a founding member) published an international survey focused on this rise in digital programs, seeking views from professional executive interim managers on the trends, challenges and opportunities in digital transformation.

One of the most interesting findings was that only two thirds of interim executives that had been involved in a digital program felt that a carefully considered strategy had been developed and communicated. This is a trend that is worth exploring.

As Philippe Deljurie of X-PM France says: “In driving successful change, setting out a clear and relevant strategy is crucial. Everyone needs to understand what’s happening and why if they’re to adopt new ways of working. With over a third of our executive interims reporting a lack of clarity, many Digital Transformation projects are set to fail.”

Here are five reasons why that strategy is so important…

Shared understanding

To get everyone on board at the start of a new project, you need to ensure that they all understand what’s happening, why, and how it will be achieved. They will have questions, and without through strategic planning at the outset, these will go unanswered. A clear strategy is essential in ensuring that all involved understand the purpose of the change, the key stages and what is expected of them.

Cultural acceptance

One of the biggest barriers to organisational change is cultural rejection. A company can spend millions on the latest technology, but without support from employees, it won’t be adopted and the benefits won’t be realised. Stating a clear, relevant reason for the change and painting a picture of its benefits is essential in creating the right culture for success.

Winning over stakeholders

Often digital transformation requires buy-in from external parties, whether it be investors, partners, customers or suppliers. Again there needs to be complete transparency to get these parties on side. They need to understand the reasons for the change, the benefits, what to expect and how they need to do things differently.

Evolving scope

If you’re not clear on why you’re progressing with a new direction, how will you know whether or not new developments will sit in its scope, or outside it? In any project new information, challenges and priorities materialise along the way. Without clear direction, your organisation can become distracted or overwhelmed by these new influences.

Measuring success

Finally, lacking a detailed road map will make it impossible to know when you have reached your destination. You can’t prove a program successful unless you have set strategic objectives and actions at the outset. Our survey found that 39% of projects did not have defined KPIs.

It seems shocking that so many transformation initiatives lack the clarity required. And yet our survey found that 84 per cent of our executive interims’ projects were considered successful. Perhaps the conclusion is that the involvement of an experienced professional helps create the right environment to achieve a positive outcome. With the rapid rise in digital transformation assignments in our business, it seems that this is a route many businesses are choosing to take.