Lots has been written on the concept of “setting a project up for success” but doing a good job is much more than setting the objective and assigning a PM!

Most people will agree that to deliver successful change, you must first establish the outcomes. This means you need to establish a clear vision with detailed objectives.

Adding timelines and depth adds to the clarity and expectation. This is always good practice but many digital (or business) transformation projects fail to gain the traction they need. This is because the assigned team tend to build a vision and then jump into action before thinking about all the other stuff to align.

In my experience, this is where you can set yourself up for failure.

There are many factors to consider when launching ANY new project, but digital transformation projects can be particularly complex.

In this blog I want to share the top level 5 critical steps for successful initiation of digital transformation. 

Get this bit right, and you are already on the road to a successful project and meeting your objectives.

Gain an understanding of your situation today

When establishing the vision, objectives and timelines, you must also undertake a discovery and understanding of your situation today. This “audit” exposes all the non-project related impacts on change – skills, resourcing, conflicting interests and engagement levels.

While this may sound like an obvious step, you would be surprised how often large-scale, complex programmes are launched without giving this due consideration.

When things go wrong, they can go wrong in a BIG way.

As an example of a poorly initiated project, the board of a company I know pushed hard for the business to start a 2-year digital transformation project which required significant financial investment. The executive team failed to get traction as the technical team were flat out keeping the existing operations live with no time to embark on digital transformation.

Here are the 5 critical steps for successful initiation of digital transformation:

  1. Establish the vision of success. This vision needs objectives and measurement – the project outcomes.
  2. Audit your current situation. Understand your capacity to change; the operational pain, technical debt, morale, resource availability, cash flow, etc.
  3. Analyse incentives. Make sure all stakeholders are incentivised to deliver Step 1 (and have time to give to the initiative).
  4. Build a realistic plan . One that all stakeholders buy into, that is funded and achievable given the reality found at Step 2.
  5. Communicate. Build a communications plan that brings the value of Step 1 to life for everyone involved, specifically what is means to them personally and how you will overcome current challenges (see step 2).

New project outcomes are critical, but your ability to deliver them is governed by your reality – your starting point.

Getting the foundation of the project in place is critical to success, in summary:

Project foundations for successful initiation of digital transformation

If you miss this bit, your project may well fail before it has the chance to get off the ground, even if the strategy is sound.


Do you need help with a digital change project?

I help clients achieve direction and momentum in digital and change. I focus on making strategy ‘real’ and help complex change happen at a pace the business needs. If you have a change project you need help or advice with I’m always available to chat. You can reach me at:

Richard Morecroft, Senior Partner

Mobile: + 44 7714 689796



Andrew Salmon