5 key reasons workplace transformation projects fail

According to the IDC, about half of today’s organisations who are undertaking some form of digital transformation are finding themselves at a deadlock. Our own estimates would have this number sitting higher but suffice to say it’s a key focus of many business leaders and in organisations of all sizes.

Many of these projects fail.

A complete – and successful – transformation to a modern workplace must encompass people, process and technology. We’ve written about this in the past and our unique ability to deliver this alignment is a key reason why the Modern Workplace Alliance was born.

But without the right support, it is easy to manage the initiative as an I.T project, rather than a large scale, multi-faceted change management exercise.

There’s a growing body of instructive analysis on why many of these critical workplace focused projects are failing. Combining this with our own experience working with organisations at various points in their transformation journey, we can distil the ‘whys’ to five fundamental issues:

1. Lack of buy in from the Executive and/or the Board

New technology implementations have historically been finite projects led and managed by the I.T team, with little or no involvement from the executive. But a modern workplace transformation is not an I.T project – it’s a game changing initiative that cannot succeed without active champions from top to bottom.

The answer: Lead with the desired business outcome and engage the executive team at the very start of the process. Establish digital transformation as a whole of business, change management project with key executives as project sponsors.

2. No strategy

Internal buy-in that’s essential to a project like this succeeding, can only result from a fully developed, business-needs driven strategy. Without a vision for the future, for what is possible for your team, your customers and your ways of working – why would anyone get behind you?

The answer: Work with an external partner who thinks beyond the technology, leads with business conversations and understands change management success levers. MWA’s strategy Accelerator process does just this, according to Peter Carr, Director City Innovation and Technology City of Hobart:

“MWA showed a clear difference in their approach. They wanted to work with our business teams first, rather than just inside our enterprise technology unit.”

3. Limited adoption

Switching on the new technology is only the first step yet it is also where many organisations stop. Working closely with your team to understand the impact on their ways of working and engaging them to refine and improve their processes is critical to driving adoption.

The answer: Ensure that your workforce are part of the process from plan right through to launch and growing value of any new solution. Personalised, relevant training in new technologies is essential for the level of adoption that delivers maximum positive impact. One of the MWA partners, Paul Woods, the Founder of Adopt & Embrace, says:

“People forget that without proper involvement from the people actually using the tools, the technology won’t be adopted to the extent it should be, nor will you unlock value – no matter how much training you do. It’s all about getting their buy-in early.”

4. Lack of IT expertise

Your existing I.T team are experts at supporting your existing environment – while a modern workplace transformation requires a breadth of expertise rarely found in one specialist partner organisation, let alone an internal team. In most cases your I.T team will not have the skillset required to design, deliver and implement a modern workplace transformation project.

The answer: Work with a partner that can deliver the entire, end-to-end modern workplace change initiative. Be aware that finding this skillset in one organisation is very difficult but it is something that the Modern Workplace Alliance can provide.

5. No measurement of results

A large transformation project takes time, but it doesn’t mean that you have to wait 1-2 years before seeing any payoff for the commitment of dollars and effort.

The answer: Your delivery partner must have incremental metrics in place to measure the impact at every step – across improvements in productivity, collaboration and customer experience. For a national retailer customer, MWA were able to improve employee engagement scores by three times the level of previous years, with 70% of actively licenced firstline users engaged each month on Yammer. This happened within months – not years.

Asking the right questions

In any workplace transformation initiative, the stakes are high and working with the right partner is critical. Ensure that the organisation you work with can help you:

  • define your modern workplace vision,
  • establish a clear implementation road-map
  • lead the change management process, and
  • take ownership of the end-to-end engagement, across all relevant technologies

Take the first step today. Get in touch with the Modern Workplace Alliance or take our 10 minute modern workplace assessment – the results will help you understand where your organisation is in its modern workplace journey, and the 3 top priorities to focus on next.

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  • Information about our 1 day Modern Workplace Accelerator
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