How to Lead a Business Transformation


How do companies manage to change their processes and programs? Jennifer Bridges, PMP, shows you how to lead a successful business transformation.

Here’s a shot of the whiteboard for your reference!

strategies for planning a business transformation

In Review – How to Lead a Business Transformation

Jennifer opened by noting that many companies are in transition. They’re looking to transform their processes or programs. Maybe that means migrating their project management software to the cloud, implementing a digital strategy or adopting an Agile process.

Whatever their goals are, the act of transformation is a challenging one. There are obstacles to overcome, sometimes many of them. Jennifer outlined several of the more common challenges that organizations face when leading a business transformation.

  • Weak Sponsor Engagement: When your sponsor isn’t there or is not fully engaged with the process and doesn’t make it a priority.
  • Lack of Clearly Defined Roles: When it’s not certain who is responsible for what.
  • Failure to Assess Capability: When you don’t know what your team’s capabilities are or their capacity.
  • Inconsistency in Communication: When communications are spotty, misdirected, or worse, nonexistent.
  • Inaccuracies in Effort Estimates: When estimations are off, the transformation suffers.
  • Lack of Momentum to Implement: When, because of the extended time it takes to implement a business transformation, momentum lags.
  • Wrong Timing of Implementation: When the best-laid plans are impacted by external or internal forces that change the dynamic.
  • Letting Go of Legacy Processes/Systems: When people or organizations are attached to old processes and systems.

Strategies for Business Transformation Success

To overcome these challenges, Jennifer offered a four-point strategy.

  1. Strategic Vision: Make sure you develop the right strategic vision, so you have a clear idea of where you’re going and how you’re going to get there. A vision statement can help.
  2. Execution: This is the hard part. You need to have a detailed plan with buy-in from the organization and the people tasked with making the business transformation.
  3. Challenges: Every transformation is different, and the challenges you’ll face will be unique. Identify and handle your biggest challenges.
  4. Customer Demand: Remember, it is likely the customer who is driving the business transformation, so stay in touch with their interests.

Best Practices for Planning

Jennifer closed out her tutorial by recommending these best practices for planning your business transformation.

  • Keep the Culture in Mind: What is the organization’s culture? Is it customer-centric or about ownership empowerment? If you want to succeed, you first must identify what culture you’re working in and align your strategy to its course.
  • Know the People: It’s equally important to know the people you’re working with. There’s a difference between knowledge and mindset, in that you can teach knowledge, but a mindset is harder to change.
  • Set Clear Objectives: Again, you want these to fall in line with the organization’s, whether those objectives are to improve the client experience or the release time to market.
  • What’s the Success Factor? You need to find a compelling reason why the business transformation is necessary in order to get everyone on board, be willing to help, and to let go of prior expectations.

Pro-Tip: Jennifer recommended losing the old tools and embracing new ones to facilitate the process. Switching to online project management tools can prove helpful in pushing the efficiencies and productivity of the business transformation.


Today, we’re talking about how to lead a business transformation. As a consultant, I have a lot of experience with companies transforming their processes or their programs.

And today, what’s happening is a lot of companies are looking for a business transformation to maybe go to the cloud or implement a digital strategy, or even implement agile processes. But whether you’re internal or external, there are a lot of challenges that come on when you’re doing a business transformation.

And some of the challenges you’ll see is maybe a weak sponsor engagement, maybe somebody who’s not really there full-time on the engagement or can really make it a priority.

The second one is a lack of clearly defined roles. Maybe the people on the business transformation, it’s unclear who’s responsible for what.

Also, a failure to assess the capabilities. Maybe there are people on the business transformation team, or even in the organization. So with a lack of understanding of their capability or even the capacity, it’s hard to get the program done.

There’s also inconsistencies in communication. Maybe they’re sporadic, or maybe they’re going to the wrong people for the wrong thing, or maybe they’re none at all.

Then there’s inaccuracies of the effort of estimations on the work required to do the transformation.

And here’s a big thing, the lack of the momentum to implement. Because typically, a business transformation can last for months. It may be typical to have a 15-month or 18-month engagement. So you have to keep the team involved to go through and execute the transformation.

Sometimes there’s wrong timing of the implementation. Maybe by the time you go to implement, there are factors that change, maybe timing of the market or something has implemented to change the industry.

And then there’s the big one of letting go of legacy processes, or even systems. So let’s take a look at some of the strategies to set up for success.

So the first one is to have a strategic vision. Getting the right strategic vision is critical, having people know where you’re going. Why are you doing this transformation? And ultimately, what do you want the organization or the company to look like?

The second one is execution. So execution is the hardest. So you may have the plan to do it in the organizations but really getting people to adopt and execute it, to really infuse it into the organization or the company can be hard.

Some of the other challenges, so you wanna identify and handle your biggest challenges. So for some companies, a common one is for the leader to let go of either a current or a past success.

The other one is customer demand. So take a broad view of your customer’s demands. Because typically, that’s what you’re looking at to drive the transformation, is to meet the customer’s demands.

So a big thing to remember with the strategy is to use modern tools. Let go of some of the legacy tools, the legacy systems, and adopt the modern ones that can support what’s happening now.

So remember these best practices for planning for the transformations. Remember the culture. For some companies, part of the culture is maybe ownership or empowerment of their people and being customer-centric, just some examples.

The second one is people. So, a lot of times, companies look at knowledge and mindset. And companies now are going more from mindset over knowledge. They feel like they can train people for knowledge. But to have a mindset, a positive mindset, to get things done and really move the organization to where they wanna be is very important.

Also, having clear objectives, too. For some companies, it’s to improve the client experience. Maybe getting time to market, improve that time to market.

Some of the success factors can be having a compelling why. So for the people on the transformation team, or even in the organization who have to adopt it, there has to be a strong, compelling why, so people can go all-in. And then, again, a big thing is willing to let go of how you did things in the past.

So, as you can see, a project management software tool can be very helpful for your transformation. And if you need one, then sign up for our software now at ProjectManager.