Increasing your Digital Transformation Success Rate with Enterprise Architecture
by Daniel Lambert
Still today, most digital transformations fail. It does not have to be this way. By incorporating a business architecture practice and following the five “Agile Strategy Execution Steps” described in this article, your digital transformation success rate can increase significantly. Your organization will learn to prioritize and fix more realistic goals and timeframes for their digital transformation projects and collaboration between all teams involved in the planning ecosystem of your firm will improve significantly from business strategy to agile delivery execution.
Most Digital Transformation Fail
According to the Harvard Business Review, “Most digital transformations fail. Various studies from academics, consultants, and analysts indicate that the rate of digital transformations failing to meet their original objectives ranges from 70% to 95%, with an average of 87.5%.[i]”.
My students experience the same difficulties in their organizations. At each one of my classes I ask “How many of your digital transformation projects are delivered on time and within budget?” Figure 1[ii] below shows what they have answered so far.
If we exclude those that did not know, 53% of my students mentioned that less than 20% of their projects were delivered on time and within budget. Only 21% of my students answered that 50% or more of their digital transformation projects were delivered on time and within budget.
Two Reasons for Digital Transformation Failures
There are two main reasons why digital transformations fail to deliver in many organizations.
First, when organizations establish their goals and objectives (if they do) they are inclined to be over-optimistic in the timing and the scope of their business outcome.
The second reason behind unsuccessful digital transformation is inadequate execution, including the absence of communications between the various teams involved in the planning ecosystem of an organization, and prioritizing technology deployment instead of user adoption through change management.
How Can Business and Enterprise Architecture Increase Digital Transformation Success?
By following the five “Agile Strategy Execution Steps” suggested in Figure 2[iii] below, organizations will tend to prioritize and fix more realistic goals and timeframes for their digital transformation projects and collaboration between all teams participating in the planning ecosystem of their firm will increase significantly from business strategy to agile delivery execution. These stages are explained in detail in this book entitled “Practical Guide to Agile Strategy Execution: Design, Architect, Prioritize, and Deliver your Corporate Future Successfully”.
In brief, customers (segments and/or persona) and partners are involved everywhere during the five steps of an organization’s agile strategy execution. Business stakeholders are involved in all steps, except in the fourth one, which is the agile delivery and execution phase. As for IT Stakeholders, they are mostly implicated in initiative planning (step 3) and agile delivery and execution (step 4).
Value propositions, products, and services are mostly elaborated in business design and strategy in step 1 to meet specific strategies and goals. Customer journeys, value streams, and value stages are usually examined at the beginning of your architecting transformation in step 2, where organizations will focus and prioritize their efforts on the problematic business capabilities that enable value streams to deliver enhanced value propositions to customers. Business capabilities are explored in both architecting transformation and initiative planning in steps 2 and 3, where initiative and projects need to address specifically the identified problematic capabilities. As for business processes, they are essentially taken care of in the agile delivery and execution phase in step 4 at the operational and tactical level where business process experts and agile experts need to meet clear objectives measuring tactics. Requirements, epics, and user stories in step 4 will be described using the elements and artifacts generated by enterprise architects while building their detailed roadmap in Step 3.
Calculating the Impact of your Business / Enterprise Architect Team within your Organization
Incorporating business architecture and following all five “Agile Strategy Execution Steps” allows an organization to set its priorities more quickly focusing on the most profitable and client-driven initiatives first. Furthermore, business architecture applied correctly to agile planning, will allow projects to be more accurate, less risky by investigating impact analysis, and take less time since business analysts will not have to start with a blank slate to build their first drafts of their requirements, epics, and user stories. Having proper business architecture artifacts will save time not just for business analysts, but also for business stakeholders, process experts, project managers, IT architects, and software architects among others.
Time savings of strategic and tactical delivery improvement is only one of three forms of benefits that occurs while practicing business and enterprise architecture. There are two more contributions that may be considered in the calculation of a return on investment (ROI) of implementing an enterprise architecture practice within an organization, as shown in Figure 3[iv] above. These three benefits usually greatly outweigh the cost of implementing business architecture into your enterprise architecture, which will usually involve the salary of business and enterprise architects, training, and various collaborative software applications.
The success rate of your digital transformation projects can be improved significantly by incorporating a business architecture practice into your enterprise architecture and following the five “Agile Strategy Execution Steps” briefly described in this article. To be more successful in delivering its future, your organization needs to learn how to prioritize and fix more realistic goals and timeframes for its digital transformation projects. It also must understand how to improve collaboration between all teams involved in the planning ecosystem of your firm from business strategy to agile delivery execution.
[i] This quote is extracted from the article entitled “3 Stages of a Successful Digital Transformation” written by Didier Bonnet in September 2022 and published on the Harvard Business Review website.
[ii] Figure 1 is extracted from the material provided in the courses provided by Business Architecture Info and its partners.
[iii] Figure 2 is extracted from the article entitled “Providing Customer-Driven Value with a TOGAF® Based Enterprise Architecture” published on the Open Group blog and written by Daniel Lambert in January 2021.
[iv] Figure 3 is extracted from this article entitled “What’s the ROI on Your Business Architecture Practice?” written by Daniel Lambert and published on the IRIS Business Architect website.