The ugly truth about why 70% of digital transformations fail


To keep up with competition, drive performance and meet customer expectations, organisations need to effectively execute digital transformations. Unfortunately, a huge proportion of technology projects fail to meet their desired outcome – in quality, time and/ or costs, with only about 30% of all digital transformations achieving success on all three dimensions.

In both the public and private sector it’s not unusual for new projects or digital upgrades to fail on one or more dimensions.

Digital transformation implemented at scale, or under tremendous pressure due to rapid growth, pose a challenge for organisations and business leaders.

The costs associated with project failure can have a significant impact, with organisations losing time, money, efficiency and their competitive advantage.

Why digital transformations fail

There are many reasons why digital transformations fail, but the most common reasons are not meeting deadlines, failing to stay within budget and not achieving key objectives (quality). These problems can be caused by a number of issues.

To give you an insight into why less than 30% of digital transformations succeed, here are a few problems organisations encounter.

Failure to sufficiently allocate skills and resources

When launching a digital transformation, it’s vital to allocate the most capable resources and ensure the skills of those steering the transformation are sufficient to reach the desired outcome.

During the planning phase it’s important to ensure all individuals aligned with the project have the most appropriate skills and knowledge to successfully support and reach the objectives of the digital transformation.

Misalignment to project outcomes

Many digital transformations fail when the project goals outlined by leadership don’t match the goals understood by the rest of the team. A digital transformation can only succeed when all individuals working towards the same objective are clear on the project’s goals and desired outcome.

Biases from leadership

Biases from leadership can have a huge impact on decision making during a digital transformation. Sometimes it can be difficult for project leaders to set aside biases that can impact the project’s success.

Lack of experience and prior learnings

When project leaders and individuals driving the digital transformation don’t have sufficient prior experience and knowledge to draw upon, they may find it difficult to navigate problems when they materialise. It’s vital to have extensive knowledge gathered from prior experience in order to navigate the sometimes rocky landscape of digital transformation.

Limited future-proofing to protect project outcomes

Failing to future proof the digital transformation to protect project outcomes is a common oversight demonstrated by project leadership. Project architecture needs to be well-thought out and considered, based on evidence and prior learnings, to ensure the success of the project.

It’s important to implement a forward-thinking approach to foresee any possible risks and be ready to manage issues if they arise

Lack of agility

Organisations who don’t demonstrate agility throughout a digital transformation are sure to fail. Because technology projects are not static, leaders and project managers need to have a mindset of continuous improvement to ensure the desired outcome of the project is achieved.

Not implementing good practice

To maintain consistency and support a successful digital transformation it’s essential to implement good practice throughout the project lifecycle. Good practice is the foundation for setting up the project for success and to ensure all stakeholders are on the same page.

Failure to consistently monitor the digital transformation

Failing to assess the digital transformation at key decision points and implement change management procedures will end in failure. Assessments throughout the lifecycle of the project will give project leaders the confidence to make informed decisions that are evidence based and aligned with the project outcomes.

How digital assurance professionals can ensure digital transformation success

An assurance professional will assess the process and provide guidance to organisations to ensure the successful implementation of digital transformation.

A digital assurance professional will:

  • Ensure skills and resources are effectively allocated and all roles are clearly defined.
  • Ensure everyone involved understands the project outcomes.
  • Provide an independent perspective to avoid biases.
  • Provide valuable experience and prior learnings to draw upon during the transformation.
  • Future-proof and protect the project outcomes.
  • Ensure agility throughout the project’s lifespan.
  • Ensure good practices are in place.
  • Consistently monitor and manage the digital transformation points and assess at key decision points.
  • Maintain and implement good practice every step of the way.

How Global Gateway Assurance and Global Agile Assurance can help your digital transformation succeed

It’s the world’s best practice standard for assurance methods, models, tools and accredited reviewer training. This includes our best practice methods of Global Agile Assurance, Global Gateway Assurance and Digital Assurance Business Owner.

We’ve introduced digital assurance and testing to a variety of organisations, helping them assure their digital transformations and provide the best user experience.

At Global Digital Assurance we support individuals, assurance professionals and organisations by providing holistic, modernised assurance training courses aligned to best practice standards for agile and gated assurance for technology projects.

Connect with us to find out how we can help you ensure the success of your next digital transformation.