Starting a Transformation

When starting a transformation project I usually like to understand why a company has come to the decision that they need to start something as big as a business transformation project.

In my experience there are 2 main reasons for a transformation:

  1. A disconnect between the business stakeholders and the technology team who are supporting them has developed. In this case the transformation is usually the result of the business wanting to add new features and sell new products which the current systems cannot be extended to support.
  2. A technology driven transformation, where a number of legacy systems holding the product inventory and business rules, and these are now difficult to maintain, usually due to extensive customisation of end of life software packages running on old style hardware.

The balance is to understand the complexities and issues of the current systems, but also make sure that the benefits and the good things about it are also understood and can be replicated in the new system (it is not a good idea to fix a problem but to regress several other things).

What I have found is that it is critically important (regardless of whether you are dealing with situation 1 or 2) to make sure that the business and the transformation team work closely together to deliver the new system, without the business understanding and buy in then you end up with the classic IT problem of developing an expensive systems that no-one is wants to use (or foot the bill for).

Finally I think I would make sure that everyone involved in the project knows that a transformation project is a journey. The first thing you launch will not be perfect, especially if you are offering something which is for use by the public. How the general public interact with the system will need to be considered as part of the inputs for what you are finally going to deliver and so a critical part of what you are delivering should allow you to get feedback on how the system is being used and how it is performing compared to a set of business goals. This should drive the user experience, the products that are available and how the system works after the initial launch to market.