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How do you stop digital transformation projects from failing?

How To Stop Projects Failing

Why do digital transformation projects fail so often? And how can organisational culture be the key to overcoming common hurdles? Musaddik Ahmed explores three key areas that Cerillion focuses on to implement and deliver successful digital transformation projects.

According to McKinsey, 70% of all digital transformation projects fail. This failure isn’t attributed to inadequate technology, or a lack of workforce skills, but something much more nuanced; failure is usually caused by deficiencies in organisational culture.

In a digital transformation project, an organisation deploys new technology to deliver greater customer experiences and reduce costs. This is achieved through new software systems that break apart operational silos and introduce greater coherence across the business.

A new system provides touchpoints for automation and increased operational efficiency. New technology is also a launchpad for developing new skills, with employees being able to carry out their usual work faster, freeing up resources to work on higher value activities.

At first, it might seem like a no-brainer that introducing new technology and upskilling staff will result in successful digital transformations. However, this generally hasn’t been the case – instead, most digital transformation projects fail, and those that do succeed often lead to short-term gains without any lasting change.

For change to be enduring and a digital transformation to be truly successful, new technology and well-skilled staff are not sufficient. There must be organisational change.

Organisational change has to do with the culture of a company. Now this might seem like a nebulous concept, but we can roughly understand it as the people that make up a company, and the relationships they form within. Culture goes beyond technical skills and touches upon the way in which people work together, their shared aspirations, and their common victories.

How can a digital transformation project bring about cultural change? It can’t.

Organisational change cannot come from any new technology or consulting; it can only come from the company itself. At Cerillion, we recognise this. In contrast to the statistics around digital transformation, Cerillion has a long track record of successful projects delivering lasting change for its customers. This is because Cerillion’s project management methodology focuses on the entire organisation and aids our customers in bringing about the necessary change.

This methodology addresses three distinct aspects of a BSS/OSS project:


Projects are driven by leadership. This requires the appointment of clearly defined decision makers, and the establishment of forums for alignment between stakeholders. This is reflected in Cerillion’s firm emphasis on open and honest communication throughout every project.

An important aspect of this is having the right personnel from both the customer side and from Cerillion. Importantly, we appoint a project board executive, who sits at the head of a dedicated committee comprising all stakeholders. It’s this core leadership team who, together, define clear objectives and empower the rest of the company to successfully implement the digital transformation.

Instilling a transformation ethos across the whole team

Whilst objectives and principles will be established at the top, these mean nothing if they don’t trickle down throughout the rest of the organisation. Here, the importance of shared aspirations must be emphasised, and this is an area where our customers have truly shone. For example, Sure ran internal marketing campaigns with interviews from different departments which built anticipation and excitement for the new Cerillion system. Similar initiatives have been replicated with other customers.

This collective excitement is critical for establishing the transformation project as a shared aspiration. Cerillion aids this progression through an iterative delivery process with multiple stages that allow us to demonstrate value fast.

By starting with low-hanging opportunities, Cerillion delivers a sense of success from the outset which establishes confidence in the solution and kickstarts a flywheel of progress that is vital to the lifeblood of the whole transformation project. In addition, we pride ourselves in being present with our customers: in initial requirements workshops, during the project and of course to jointly celebrate go-live.


While we love nothing more than being present with our customers, Cerillion’s project management methodology recognises the necessity of adapting to changing circumstances.

An organisation is an ever-evolving entity, and instilling change requires keeping up with inevitable organisational shifts. Companies must respond to unexpected circumstances, and Cerillion provides the flexibility to change with them. This is why there are regular reviews and checkpoints throughout a project which ensures alignment.

A perfect example of this is Cerillion’s successful delivery of the MVN-X project. Although initial plans included typical on-site presence, the COVID pandemic meant these plans had to change. Nonetheless, Cerillion was able to adapt. We worked closely with MVN-X to replan the implementation and ensure that delivery could be completed entirely remotely.

During this time, we maintained organisational presence with small, but effective, methods such as daily stand-up meetings and interactive calls for teams to get to know each other. More importantly, strong relationships at senior levels and encouragement to communicate objectives downstream ensured there was full organisational buy-in, leading to a successful digital transformation.

Besides keeping up with new technologies and best practices, Cerillion is successful in digital transformation programmes by focusing on what really matters: the people who will be using the new systems. Beyond our comprehensive training and user guides for technical upskilling, Cerillion’s project management methodology aims to seek commitment not just from one team or senior members, but from everyone in the organisation.

Before embarking on a digital transformation, telcos should make sure their vendors understand the importance of bringing the entire organisation onto the digital transformation journey. At Cerillion, we dedicate a huge amount of care and attention to our customer’s whole company resulting in successful digital transformations.

If you’re thinking about Digital Transformation of your BSS/OSS or would like to learn more about Cerillion’s project management approach, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Speak to us today for support in your digital transformation journey.

About the author

Musaddik Ahmed

Pre-Sales Consultant, Cerillion

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