Overcoming the 7 Barriers to Digitalisation Success

Overcoming the 7 Barriers to Digitalisation Success

Published October 25, 2023

3 minute read

Digitisation. Digitalisation. Digital transformation. Three terms often used interchangeably - Yet very different.

  • Digitisation simply means the conversion of analog to digital. A piece of paper to a Word document. A paper permit-to-work to an electronic copy.
  • Digitalisation, however, is the use of that digitised data with other digital technologies to manage the process/system, i.e. to impact how work gets done. For example, the replacement of [what is likely] a set of well-honed paper-based permit-to-work processes with a digital ePermit system that bridges the gap between those well-designed policies and what actually happens on the ground.
  • Digital transformation is a broader term than digitalisation. Whereas digitalisation can be applied to small, well-defined processes/systems, digital transformation is much broader, often at a company or divisional level and often leads to the creation of entirely new markets, and/or new customer and business realities.

    A SAP survey back in 2017 showed that, while 96% of 3,000 business leaders felt that digital transformation was a priority, only 3% considered the job done.
    The past year has only served to reinforce the importance of digital transformation so why, with so much C-level support, has it been so difficult to deliver? What are the barriers to success? Further, is there even a chequered flag signifying completion?
     
    Over recent years the importance of digital transformation has been a high agenda point across multiple industries. However, like so many truly digitalised processes, it can be difficult to deliver. Therefore we want to explore what the barriers to success really are. 
     
    Read More - EcoOnline EHS ePermits
     Barriers to success and ways to overcome these challenges

Achieving True Digitalisation Transformation

Breaking transformation into a series of bite-sized, manageable, digitalisation projects is a recommended approach to overcoming this first barrier.

Failure to Engage Employees/Contractors

Transparency and consistency of communication are key factors in keeping employees on-board. Empowering them by involving them in the project design and implementation will also help. Interestingly this also applies to your supply chain. By involving your main contractors in the design and implementation, they will be more engaged and feel part of the process change.

Organisational Structure

Another common mistake in digital transformation projects is assuming that the company organisation will not change post-transformation. Or, put another way, the requirements of the digitalisation project are constrained by the existing organisational structure. Recognition of this and being open to change the structure to best support the desired outcomes of transformation is the first step in overcoming this barrier to success.

Poor Quality Data

Access to quality data is a key barrier to success. If you are unable to access the data you need or it is locked in a legacy data silo, this can delay or end a project. Through standard data sets, rapid implementation is possible and allows for quicker results.

Skills and Talent

The lack of skills and talent relates to both leadership (of digitalisation projects) as well as the simple lack of digital skills amongst employees and contractors (where applicable). Training employees to be digitally literate is an obvious task but with support an guidance this can be achieved comprehensively throughout implementation.

Failure to Assess and Mitigate Project Risks

This may be a surprising barrier to success but it plays a part in many technology projects. Teams are just not good at planning for risks and taking steps to mitigate those risks. By taking a step back and reviewing what you want to achieve first, this can be overcome.

Poorly Defined Success Metrics

What does success look like? How are you going to measure it? Clearly defining success metrics with associated measurements of success is critical to the success of any project but this remains a barrier for many broad digital transformation projects.


The success of most projects is a combination of people, processes (the business) and technology. What’s interesting about these 7 barriers to success is that none of them relate to technology. They’re all people/business related. That doesn’t make technology faultless or a cure for all business problems, just that success or failure lies with us – people.

The second conclusion of note is the benefit that can be accrued by taking bite-sized chunks out of digital transformation and identifying digitalisation projects (such as permit-to-work) that can enable incremental change and deliver short-term results.

The other major benefit of taking an incremental, digitalisation approach is that other teams can learn from these projects as they progress. Sharing these learnings across the business and throughout the supply chain then ensures others can shortcut overcoming these barriers to success.


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