As the use of technology continues to expand throughout business and emerging technology solutions become mainstream, many businesses don’t have the skills and capabilities they need to achieve successful digital transformation projects. Therefore, they need to look outside the organisation to leverage the power of collaboration.

Historically, the term ‘collaboration’ referred to the management of teams within an organisation, particularly cross-functional teams. However, more recently, collaboration refers to assembling a team with the right skills, capabilities and attitude, supported by a group productivity platform from the talent pool across a range of strategic partners.

The most significant difference is that business leaders no longer expect that all the skills and capabilities required will be available internally, so those strategic partners are often found outside the organisation.

Collaboration, therefore, has come to describe the effective execution of a partnership that spans both organisational and geographic boundaries.
This matching of a capability base in diverse locations with an effective platform, turns collaboration into an ecosystem. A collaboration ecosystem empowers transformation project leaders to adjust the capability mix based on specific, short-term requirements.

This is a real and meaningful change in managing complex technical projects, especially digital transformation and cloud migration projects.
So-called ‘industrial mashups’ can create potentially unique business value by bringing together very different companies well known for their individual areas of expertise.

Businesses are increasingly understanding the importance of unlocking these opportunities and are aware of the need to partner. A separate Harvard Business Review research report revealed that 75% of businesses were not confident their organisation possessed the digital acumen required to excel in this space.

This demonstrates that learning how to collaborate effectively is just as important as being willing to collaborate. The success of a digital transformation project will be affected by issues including lack of talent, change fatigue, going it alone, and going too slowly.

When it comes to getting the right talent for digital transformation, the capability mix for each stage of the project is quite dynamic. For example, some specialist skills are only needed for some development stages, but they are critical to the success of the overall success of the project. It’s important to have all the required skills at the right competency level for every stage of the project. The solution is to build development partnerships with organisations that can deliver on the project requirements, at the time required.

Change fatigue includes the challenge of scarce resources being required to run legacy systems and processes while, at the same time, trying to deliver on generational change in systems and processes. Change fatigue can certainly be managed, and one way is to have a broader talent pool that can focus on keeping the business running.

Fewer businesses are determined to go it alone or go slowly. In a 2016 survey, Australian CEOs were found to be ahead of their global peers when considering strategic partnerships and 44% of executives believe that going it alone will become a thing of the past.

This is compelling evidence that the success of critical digital transformation projects, including cloud migration, may be determined by an organisation’s willingness to embrace this emerging definition of collaboration.

However, in practice, many projects have been crippled or failed to deliver the anticipated return on investment because businesses have diverted key resources to legacy systems at critical points in a digital migration development. Further, projects are often descoped by internal teams. This can make the project look good in the rear-view mirror but leaves many of the expected business benefits unmet and benefits realisation deferred.

The best advice for organisations looking to achieve successful digital transformation projects is to set the roadmap upfront, allocate resources that won’t have to be de-allocated, and set realistic expectations for time frames, benefits, and return on investment. The key to this is identifying and working with the right strategic partners.