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Enterprise transformation

How to avoid the 7 most common project fails


With the rate of transformation in the pandemic and post-pandemic era being at an all-time high, many enterprise-level organizations are embarking on the latest big technology project only to see it fail.

In the quest to outpace and surpass the ever-evolving competition, some C-level executives have become blindsided by factors that derail their transformation efforts.

Initiatives to transform and modernize enterprise-level organizations often focus on innovating core service delivery, where the impacts of failures are almost inestimable. They can include all from cost overruns to lost opportunities.

Unique in Canada, BDO's Independent Project Review service offers unbiased, arm's-length reviews that support the success of enterprise-level transformation projects by helping to prevent expensive, high-profile failures.

From business design to system implementation, development to deployment, our Independent Project Review partners can consider the health of your project―at any stage or several over months or years. They can provide pivotal insights informed by a proven methodology and more than 60 successful engagements.

While each transformation project is singular, there are common issues our partners have identified over close to a decade of practice.

Below are seven things the C-suite has to get right to avoid failure.

Projects often rely on the charisma and capability of leaders. Leaders in one department or organization may be unable to lead in another. Culture is a critical factor.

Often the problem with the project is less with the technology itself and more about transforming the organization to take advantage of that technology.

Unique projects require unique approaches―especially those interdepartmental or multi-organizational. But, the lack of a single point of accountability for engagement can be a definitive issue.

Who is defining risk-tolerance levels? Are they collecting information and evaluating risks systemically? Have they focused only on costs and schedule rather than all project delivery risks?

The costs of a multi-year, multimillion-dollar, multi-organizational project are often not accurately reported―sometimes because there is a lack of trust within an enterprise or between partner organizations.

Benefits outlined early in a project, when the business case is built, aren't always achieved―often because the scope of the project shifted between system design and system deployment. The disbenefits that can emerge during mission-critical projects can also be substantial.

The project team often delivers to the business and leaves it up to the company to derive the benefits of the innovation initiative―a transition that is not well-handled. To ensure benefits and a return on investment, it's essential to continue to track the project's success (using established metrics) and hold the business accountable.

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