Despite accounting for 40% of all IT spending, digital transformations have an abysmal 70% failure rate.

For most companies, a failure of preparation is to blame. Without a firm grasp of the assets at hand and the challenges to come, they are overwhelmed by the speed and cohesion needed for transformation.

Success lies in planning. Clear outcomes and responsibilities are essential, from top-line strategy to operational execution. Departments must synchronize to operate and adjust together. Without these capabilities, businesses doom themselves before they can begin.

But where and how should companies direct their preparation efforts? Here are 4 critical planning areas businesses must get right to set the stage for successful transformation.


Business Vision: The Top-Line Strategy

To set the business vision, executive leadership and operational department heads determine the transformation’s strategic intent and long-term business outcomes.

Planning failures this early can be catastrophic. Poorly defined outcomes lead to imprecise objectives and vague implementations. They also affect every level and department, making them hard to change without a total restart.

Take measures to create a compelling, detailed business vision where you:

Understand your resources, processes, and capabilities. By weighing them against your desired end state, you can set precise and realistic outcomes and objectives.

Include everyone. Every department team must understand its role. Stakeholders aligned with strategy coordinate more effectively, maximizing their contributions to success.

Stay involved. A common leadership mistake is to take a hands-off approach. Always be prepared to support implementation directly. Oversight can reveal misalignments and guide corrections before they pull efforts off course.

Monitor external developments. Tech and industry trends and disruptions can affect your strategy and necessitate adjustments. The earlier you notice, the less risk your transformation incurs.


Architectural Foresight: The Command and Knowledge Center

The architectural foresight team translates the business vision into tangible business objectives and creates an enterprise architecture to guide operations.

The enterprise architecture framework helps oversee projects and issue operational adjustments. It is also a knowledge center of industrial and technical trends, helping guide the iterative implementation of state architectures.

Weak architectural planning often snowballs into more extensive problems, such as:

Misrepresentation of iterative costs due to poor communication between the leadership and execution teams. Leadership is then slow to release funding, which damages the adjustment process.

Vaguely defined objectives and a lack of technical knowledge cause implementation teams to struggle to execute transitional state architectures.

While not fatal, the two scenarios above drag transformation off-track over time as stakeholders misalign and drift apart, inhibiting cohesion.

An effective architectural foresight team will:

Keep efforts on track by defining end-state and transitional-state architectures. Clearly demarcated states provide fixed points to build departmental projects.

Establish an autonomous funding structure to enable improvements and innovations tied directly to the digital strategy.

Clarify transitional and end-state architectures to prevent iterative steps from being mistaken for technical debt.

Provide tools and expertise to implementation teams. Documented business capabilities and application landscapes facilitate impact analysis and change management.


DevOps Maturity: Integrating Iterative Change

DevOps is especially vulnerable to ineffective architectural direction. Poor planning and knowledge support can fragment design methodologies. These result in disjointed systems that are hard to use.

Insufficient architectural oversight encourages “creative” workarounds that sacrifice strategic aims for fast solutions, compromising the strategic roadmap and introducing technical debt.

Mature, effective DevOps can:

Document existing systems and applications. Familiarity with business functionalities and development histories reduces the time needed to execute adjustments.

Recommend design methodologies at the architectural stage. Thorough comprehension and evaluation of existing production systems enable DevOps to influence planning.

Leverage the enterprise architecture to create build artifacts based on conceptual details established at the architectural planning stage.

Maintain automated processes to help develop and test solutions. Centralizing responsibilities relieves some of the burdens of the architectural team.


Infrastructure Agility: Optimizing the End-State

The infrastructure team cultivates agility and efficiency in end-state infrastructure. Testing and calibration ensure infrastructure can meet business demands, enabling the capitalization of new opportunities.

Development and execution functions are often inhibited by infrastructure issues, such as:

Siloed communications that leave DevOps without native expertise of older systems. The development of iterative state architecture gets hampered, delaying the integration of new systems.

Careless, unfinished testing of integrated systems can lead to bugs and other inefficiencies, damaging the execution of the business function.

Consistent, efficient infrastructure processes enable cohesive and agile business operations. You can instill and optimize this capability by:

Validating the flexibility of current infrastructure. Determine its ability to migrate to better-performing and scalable infrastructure, and prepare accordingly.

Pressure testing iterative state architectures during development and integration. Coordinate closely with DevOps and provide expertise to maximize test value.

Preparing parallel testing environments for integrated systems with functional and load-bearing capacities.

Leveraging tools to monitor performance and health metrics. Ensure findings are consistently reported to architecture and DevOps.

Businesses seeking transformation must allocate more time to planning. Investing effort at the beginning is cheaper and more efficient than stopping midway through.

Planning – or in the middle of – a digital transformation? Tap our experience and expertise to smooth the way.




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