CxO support crucial for succeeding of digital transformation

12 November 2013

Despite the large amount of time, resources and funds being spent on digitalization, a large share of transformations do not realize their pre-defined targets. A new research from Capgemini Consulting shows that if companies want to maximize the probability that their digital transformations succeed, then they should make CxO level involvement their highest priority.

New technologies- like digitalization, social media, mobile and analytics- have over the past years grown from trend to strategic assets of organizations. In many cases their impact can be so large that they fulfill a pivotal role in a firms’ business model and competitive position. Despite increasing acknowledgements of the importance of digital transformation, companies still widely struggle with the transition to a digital business.


Organizational barriers
In the research report ‘Embracing Digital Technology: A New Strategic Imperative’ Capgemini Consulting asked more than 1.500 directors from 106 countries for the main reasons behind a failed digital transformation. Not surprisingly, the typical and well-known factors such as insufficient funds (33%) and a poor IT system (30%) score high in the list. Yet the consultants highlight that of the top 5 factors, two of them – including the most important dimension – can directly be related to the involvement of leadership.

Capgemini-Consulting---Organisatorische-barrieres-7459 (1)

The most mentioned organizational barrier causing digital transformation to fail is the lack of a so-called ‘burning platform’. In order to achieve this, the role of top executives is key. Only if leaders define a clear and shared vision and actively own and support the transformation, the end-result will be successful and sustainable, according to Capgemini Consulting. In addition, the ‘right’ leader(s) should play an ambassador role during the entire transition, from design to post-execution.

The advisory firm illustrates the impact of leadership involvement on employee attitude with a simple finding from the research: when directors share their vision on digitalization with their employees, then in 93% of the cases this also supported by them. 


In addition, leadership support has a large indirect benefit: it makes the removal of other obstacles considerably easier. With leadership aligned and actively involved, other potential bottlenecks such as insufficient funds or unclear roles & responsibilities can be addressed more effectively – with as a result of smoother transformation program.

Over ‘Embracing Digital Technology: A New Strategic Imperative’
The investigation is part of a large global research project of Capgemini Consulting in the field of ‘digital transformation’ The most famous examples of this are two research papers published in cooperation with the MIT Center for Digital Business: ‘Digital Transformation: A roadmap for billion-dollar organizations’ (2011) and ‘The Digital Advantage’ (2012)*.

* The research report ‘Digital Transformation: A roadmap for billion-dollar organizations’  was mid-2012 announced as being one of the five leading thought leadership-studies in the past ten years, by Source.


Managing the demand for change in project management

16 April 2019

The forward-looking nature of project management means that regardless of the type of project, thorough planning and risk assessment are essential to ensure it is delivered on time, on budget, and in line with the client’s requirements – while delivering the expected results. Consultants Eman Al-Hillawi and Peter Marsden elaborate in the article below. 

However, it is important to recognise that in this fast-moving working environment, and with projects increasing in scale and complexity, a degree of change is inevitable. Putting the right mitigation strategies in place early on can provide project managers with much-needed agility, allowing them to respond quickly to any new issues that arise.

When the goalposts move or project managers are issued with an unexpected client request, adopting a holistic approach is essential to ensure that changes are implemented successfully the first time around, reducing the risk of any problems arising in the future. Rather than considering the demand for change in one area of a project in isolation, it is important to conduct a full impact assessment, taking into account any knock-on effects on people, processes, systems and infrastructure. For example, a sudden need to digitalise a key HR process may have implications for recruitment, or the need to upskill existing staff through new training programmes, or both. 

Implementing a Portfolio Management Office (PMO) can also enhance project managers’ ability to spot interdependencies and better manage unforeseen changes. Where a number of projects or programmes are being undertaken simultaneously, this function is particularly useful, providing stakeholders with increased visibility and driving intelligent decision-making. For example, spotting an unexpected delay to a particular project could enable resources to be reallocated across the portfolio at an early stage, helping to drive efficiencies within the business and keeping budgets on track. 

Managing the demand for change in project management

As part of their efforts to make the most of available resources while keeping costs under control, project managers should consider using blended teams wherever possible. By combining the organisation’s existing employees with different skills and experienced project managers, it is easier to ensure that the correct levels of skills and resources are utilised at each stage of a project. Furthermore, this method can provide the additional flexibility needed to respond quickly to new developments without unnecessarily prolonging project timelines or increasing costs. 

It is worth bearing in mind that introducing some mitigation strategies may require an initial cost outlay and, as such, effective communication with stakeholders from the very beginning of a project is key. One example is to allocate a contingency budget to the project. This helps to facilitate the project manager’s ability to address key issues that require unplanned spend, without the need to undergo a time-consuming budget approval process. By educating all involved parties about the inevitability of change during projects, it is possible to put buffers in place, both financially and in terms of the project timeline. Over the course of a project, this should enable project managers to react quickly to change and take effective action without compromising on the timescales and delivery of client objectives. 

Likewise, where project delivery is reliant upon large and diverse teams, clearly communicating the impact of unexpected changes, and the required response, is also vital to ensure everyone is on the same page and disruption to day-to-day processes is kept to a minimum. When curveballs to project delivery occur, a failure to brief the team on how these should be addressed could also have a significant impact on levels of motivation and morale, which in turn has the potential to have a negative impact on productivity across a project. 

While meticulous forward planning will always be an essential element of project management, it’s equally important to recognise that to a certain extent, change is unavoidable. The ability to respond effectively to new developments as they occur is therefore vital. By making change a central part of discussions with stakeholders and clearly communicating with all parties on a programme, project managers can take new issues in their stride while continuing to deliver exceptional results for clients. 

Eman Al-Hillawi and Peter Marsden are principal consultants at business change consultancy Entec Si.