19 Jul 2024

How to lead a successful digital transformation project

Louise Cermak

Digital transformation is key to ensuring companies keep up with the competitive market landscape. Putting digital at the core of a business can significantly reduce operating expenses and inefficiencies. However, this process often means changing the way internal teams work with one another. To help with the transition, Louise Cermak, Principal Consultant at software and IT consultancy Catapult CX, offers chief experience officers (CXOs) advice on how to lead a successful digital transformation project.

According to Statista, two of the leading factors driving digital transformation growth is the increase in customer demand and the need to overtake competitors. Digital transformation not only helps businesses strengthen their presence in a competitive field, but also maintain consistency amongst teams to enable collaboration and flexibility. This transition can be broken down into four core stages, which are essential to get right.

Understand the pain points

For effective digital transformation, CXOs need to think about their current organisational structure. It’s a good idea to sit down with various teams to create a pain point assessment — a review of every area of the business to see what’s working well and what’s not. For example, are the teams fragmented or working together? Does everyone understand their role and impact on the overall business?

CXOs should also look at their current technologies and whether there are any additional tools that can help optimise processes. They can then explore optimisation and data management tools that can help their business.

Remove the blockers to agility

Once teams have identified specific pain points, the next step is creating a clear action plan for implementing solutions. Adopting a continuous improvement approach allows teams to plan activities into sprints and deliver small increments of change compared to larger pieces of work that go nowhere.

Digital transformation should drive the organisation to move from project work to product work and avoid teams from stopping and starting work. The move can help reduce costs and prevent loss of product knowledge as teams work on long-term products. This movement turns project-oriented companies that focus on delivery into product-centric teams that focus on business and customer impact. Governance and reporting frameworks will also need to change from the traditional Project Portfolio Management (PPM) approach. Business agility and digital transformation rely on technical innovation, so business leaders must be prepared to invest in modern software delivery practices and tools.

Empower teams

To ensure the change can be effectively implemented, it’s important to get all teams on board. Businesses can create multi-skilled teams with capacity for infrastructure and DevOps by dispersing large infrastructure teams and forming smaller units that are aligned to specific products or services. Communities of practice can be used to maintain collaboration and share knowledge through dispersed individuals.

However, product managers often do not have the required level of technical knowledge to effectively manage the product team. The digital skills gap is a growing problem for individuals and organisations, but there are ways businesses can close it.

For example, this includes upskilling employees on digital skills that add value to the business. These are often specific to each organisation, so understanding what skill gaps are in the team is a crucial first step. Once the foundation has been set, senior management can create a community of practice to help ensure continuous collaboration among colleagues.

Sustain the new business model

The key is ensuring new practices continue to be used throughout the company and evolve with changing business and customer needs. Senior management can track the performance of product teams via Google Cloud’s DevOps Research and Assessment team’s (DORA) five key metrics — deployment frequency, lead time for changes, change failure rate, time to restore service and reliability.

Too often, improving these metrics becomes difficult due to organisational blockers, so senior management should ensure the metrics are applied across the whole delivery cycle. Adding in newer capabilities such as DevOps and associated tools can also help with gathering data and creating a baseline to compare with.


Pictured: Louise Cermak, Principal Consultant at software and IT consultancy Catapult CX