Why don’t most modernization initiatives succeed?

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CIO / Managing Partner in Manufacturing, 2 - 10 employees
There are so many companies that don’t embed the change into the business properly. When you're implementing a modernization initiative, you don't start to get the value until 6-18 months after you've put it in place. For most companies, by the time they reach the implementation stage or maybe 30 days after, the project team's disbanded. Everybody's gone and nobody's following up on, are we getting the value? Are we actually putting in the repeat training that's needed, the next steps?

You need that project mindset: have a core project team for developing and implementing it to start with, and then a small continuing team driving to get the value out of it. Without that, you've invested millions of dollars and you're only seeing a fraction of the return. A company I worked at had a bad habit of leaving new initiatives unfinished. At first, everybody would jump on board but once we were 60% of the way there, everybody abandoned ship and moved on to the next one. So none of these things were ever embedded in the culture. Whatever that change was, it was forgotten and things reverted back.
1 1 Reply
Chief Information Officer in Software, 1,001 - 5,000 employees

I don't know how true it is now, but I once read that 80-90% of modernization initiatives don't see their end goal.

Senior Executive Advisor in Software, 10,001+ employees
78% of modernization initiatives are usually abandoned because their champion or sponsor moved on to something else, or because the pulse of the organization shifts. It could also be the assumption that because they got a project report saying it's all green, they can declare victory and forget about it. People need to realize that unless it's in production and delighting the customer, whatever you're doing is immaterial. There is no derived value unless that particular initiative makes someone outside the organization happy.
Vice President, IT & Systems in Software, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
Many of us have experienced hyper-growth companies where prioritization and people management is a big problem. The teams are slim and front-loaded with so much transformation going on; prioritization becomes very difficult for IT. The key to the success of modernization is to efficiently staff the team first, be clear on the end result and processes before undertaking systems implementation.
Former Chief Technology and People Officer in Software, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
As mentioned by others - process, policy and people.
CTO in Education, 51 - 200 employees
One of the biggest problems are intrinsic in the wording of that question. Too often people start with statements like "we need to modernize system X" or "we need to adopt new technology Y". The proper questions, like "we need to achieve business outcome A" or "we need to improve process B" lead to a much greater probability of success, because success is clearly defined in terms of business outcomes.

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Without a doubt - Technical Debt! It's a ball and chain that creates an ever increasing drag on any organization, stifles innovation, and prevents transformation.
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