People. Process. Systems.

Ryan Feely
14th July 2020

Why Digital Transofmration Efforts Fail for Charities Header


Many charity organisations are being held back by their IT systems and, worst of all, most don’t even realise the impact this is having on their day-to-day operations. All they notice is that systems are slightly disconnected and feel frustrated at the amount of time wasted on repetitive weekly tasks.


Unfortunately, when organisations decide to address the problems, they often make some fundamental mistakes that make their digital transformation efforts fail. In this article we look at what causes so many digital transformation projects to fail and how to minimise the risks in your charity organisation should you undertake a project.


What is Digital Transformation?

Ask 100 different people what digital transformation is and you will likely get 100 different answers. The truth is that there is no one-size-fits-all description of digital transformation and it will mean something different for each charity.


But in the simplest term, it is about using technology to work efficiently and ensure an organisation is sharing information across all departments. It’s about delivering services in smarter ways and using technology to facilitate this.


Often these projects are started to save money longer-term but there are many other benefits such as improving service delivery and improving team morale.


Why do Many Projects Fail?

Although each organisation has different reasoning for undertaking a project, many will fail due to the same three issues:


  1. Unrealistic expectations
  2. Resistance to change in the organisation
  3. Poor project management


All of these issues are common across business change projects in all industries but due to the new nature of digital transformation projects they are amplified for charities.


So, what can charities do to minimise the failure rate of projects? Let’s look at each problem in turn and remove the points of failure.


Unrealistic Expectations

This is something that is very common across all business change projects, not just digital transformations. The most common expectation is that some form of silver bullet exists – a one size fits all solution that solves every problem and is easily implemented.


This is not the case.


Changing systems is a complex project with lots of moving parts that requires meticulous planning and thought to be a success. Even small system changes can have large impacts on a charity.


Therefore, it is important to understand this going into a project if you want it to be successful. Make sure you allocate the correct level of time and resources or else you can expect your digital transformation efforts to fail.


Resistance to Change in the Organisation

While it is easy to focus on the systems during a digital transformation project, the truth is the users are the most important part. You need staff buy-in and belief to make the project a success.


You can install the most feature-rich systems on the planet but if staff don’t believe in the project then they won’t use the system to its full potential.


To counter resistance, it is important to be open and honest with team members. Help them understand the benefits of undertaking the project and make sure you consult them on what they need from any new system. After all, you want these changes to help make their jobs easier, allowing them to be more productive.


We have written multiple articles on resistance to change if you want a more in-depth look at the issue.

Poor Project Management

Mismanagement of resources is the key sign of poor project management but often this doesn’t come to light until they have already been wasted. By this point it is too late to correct course which leads to compromises to get the project finished. In the worst scenarios the project must be cancelled.


Poor project management can come from a lack of experience in the person running the project but sometimes it stems from the person not having well-rounded experience. Implementing a CRM is certainly a project but the experience of this would be very different from a full end-to-end digital transformation.


Make sure you take the time to ensure the project manager has the right experience or at least a support network if this is their first time leading a project.


If your charity is interested in seeing how a digital transformation project could boost how they deliver services then fill out the contact form below or reach us through our contact page

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