The time for talking about digital transformations is over: some of the biggest names in business have already started putting plans into action. Over the past year, the likes of Manchester United and the UK Government have made their move as the momentum continues to build around these mega-projects. IDC recently predicted activity of this nature will drive more than half of enterprise IT spend within the next two years, rising to a massive 60 per cent by 2020.

With large financial investments being made, there will be immense pressure on organisations to deliver a positive outcome. Time will also be tight because organisations need to execute plans while they’re still relevant and before the business landscape shifts. Harvard Business Review recently noted that failure to organise and implement plans could result in opportunities passing organisations by.

Most organisations have set processes to follow when running internal projects, but as digital transformations touch so many areas across a business, they need to be treated differently. Here are three areas to focus on to ensure digital transformations are successful:

    1) Places
If an organisation has a PMO (project management office), most internal projects will commonly run through it. At first glance, it would appear that the same approach should be taken during the digital transformation process.

This shouldn’t always be the case however, as running everything through a centralised PMO risks slowing activity down; discussing all aspects of activity in detail, and transitioning information from another department’s system, will leave activity crawling forward at a slow pace. Taking that approach also risks isolating activity from the rest of the organisation, meaning it could become siloed; this heightens the risk that the benefits of digital transformations will only be felt by individual departments, rather than the whole organisation.

To prevent these problems from occurring, a project portfolio management (PPM) tool can be used to empower individual departments to report/monitor and have good visibility of the progress being made elsewhere, while improving collaboration and communication throughout.

    2) People
Once it comes to the execution stage, projects need to be executed by people who have the right skills for the job. Within many organisations, there’s usually a good awareness within each department of what skills are possessed by each individual team member, but that knowledge is not often known, or immediately available, outside of each department. When it comes to a mega-project spanning the whole organisation, this can become a big problem.

When different departments need to start working together, and activity touches many different areas, a central resource has to be available containing three key pieces of information: which skill sets reside within an organisation, where they are, and when they will become available to assist. As such, an organisation-wide tool should be made available which allows resources to be allocated, accurately maps the nature of teams, and makes it possible to outsource pieces of work where appropriate.

    3) Process
When it comes to budgets and spending, many organisations carve up activity into departments, and don’t run a central pot. As such, an organisation-wide mega-project such as a digital transformation can pose headaches. Many still draw the money for investment from internal departments however, which poses a risk that activity could follow suit and be kept within specific departments, creating siloes at a time when the exact opposite is supposed to be happening. It’s critical that the wider strategy is not forgotten when activity gets underway, because otherwise the finished product could be wide of the mark.

To ensure activity that happens maps to wider strategy, it’s critical that initiatives are clearly defined for all team members to understand. As the digital transformation unfolds, projects across different parts of the business must be aligned with each other; results should be visualised to ensure everybody is clear what the goal looks like that they are shooting for.

P for positive
An increasingly large amount of IT spend is going to be taken up by digital transformations, so it's critical that businesses put the groundwork in place to ensure the process is a success and the organisation as a whole is aligned. Tools must be implemented that enable all areas of the business to work together to ensure a positive outcome. Taking the time to check organisational and department homogeny, and effectively share intelligence across the whole business, is a step that simply cannot be skipped.

By thinking smart and getting appropriate tools in place to alleviate common pain points across places, people and processes, businesses put themselves on the right track. Once all departments are empowered to complete work on their own, with skills identified and made available, and individual actions tied to wider strategy, organisations will be well on the way to digital transformation success.