Digital transformation needs a new approach to project management

The increasing use of technology by customers presents many challenges for business. This means that traditional areas like finance and operations may no longer be driving change. According to a new report by research specialists Gartner, meeting the digital era, where change may be motivated by evolving customer expectations, needs a fresh approach if it's to be done successfully.

Unlike other projects which are about delivering on budget and on time, digital transformation schemes can involve taking risks in order to achieve better performance. Gartner calls this "discovery oriented project management" where it's necessary to experiment and continue to learn from projects even after their launch.

The report recommends a number of things to help enterprises come to terms with this new landscape. These include having a small core team of no more than six to eight executives to enable decisions to be made quickly, understanding how customers actually use technology to interact with the business, and approaching old and new models in parallel. It also suggests using behavioral scientists to help understand how customers use information as they have no preconceptions of how things should be working. In addition the report suggests businesses look for inspiration from other industries rather than look purely at their own sector.

Richard Fouts, research vice president at Gartner says, "Customer focused digital business transformation initiatives will short change the organization’s intent if they depend on a traditional approach that values the wrong things. Most projects are defined goals, schedules and quantifiable objectives. However, it's difficult to set quantifiable objectives if the ultimate business model you’re driving toward is unknown. Transformation puts you in discovery mode; the firms we talked to treat it more like a scientific experiment versus an engagement with a known deliverable".

The full report, How to Approach Customer-Focused Digital Transformation is available on the Gartner website.

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