Implementing new business technologies should deliver good results and improved value. But they are notorious for failing, often causing hundreds of millions of rands in losses.

According to McKinsey, 69% of business technology projects fail. The Boston Consulting Group puts that rate at 70%, and the Global Mainframe Modernization Business Barometer Report goes as high as 75%.

No wonder businesses prefer to stay put and use what they know rather than face the risks of an expensive failure. Yet when playing it too safe, they will not enjoy the competitive gains of new technologies such as better data, faster strategic intelligence, and improved customer and employee services.

This contest between low risk and better performance is very evident in the payroll world. Ronél Swart, Heads up Professional Services at payroll and HR platform PaySpace, often meets with companies agonising over the decision:

“Digital modernisation isn’t a venture that companies undertake often. So, it can take them quite a while to decide when they want and enact change because of the disruption to the business and the possible risks. It’s not a decision that should be taken lightly.”

She adds that such projects often fail for typical reasons: a lack of planning and understanding requirements, inaccurate data, a lack of stakeholder involvement, inadequate communication, and change management.


The Way to Project Deployment Success

How can companies avoid expensive business technology project failures? Swart and her team at PaySpace have deployed modern payroll platforms at numerous organisations, from smaller ventures to multinational enterprises. They all share a proven recipe for a successful deployment:

Planning: Start with planning and needs analysis to gather the project’s requirements. The scale will differ depending on complexity and the business size, but every project must take these steps. Otherwise, it will struggle to recognise milestones when they arrive or to aim for those milestones.

Data Migration: Know your data categories (employee data, financial data, historical information, etc.), data locations, and who owns or relies on that data. Look at data migration options, often moving data from scattered storage to more central cloud locations or new on-premise storage systems—depending on business requirements and budgets.

Integration and configuration: Modern technologies work best when they talk to one another and even include old yet reliable business systems through integration. System configurations are also crucial as these determine usability, governance and compliance, and process improvements.

Training: A business technology project can introduce significant process changes and disrupt employees accustomed to particular tools and workflows. It is crucial to train people for the new systems. Such training requires forethought and planning to encourage buy-in (and avoid staff ‘quiet quitting’ the system).

Ongoing support: The implementation partner should provide ongoing support after the project’s delivery (cutover) phase, in order to address any issues that may arise after the implementation.


What About The Cloud?

Software systems constantly improve, motivating businesses to update and benefit from those improvements. The cloud is a modern software paradigm that does away with old licensing models and sweating outdated software.

“The pandemic pushed us all to be more comfortable with having everything in the cloud. People now realise that it is safe and convenient because you can literally sit anywhere and process your work.”

Cloud-based software brings new ways of doing things, making careful planning, needs analysis and change management even more critical. It can also simplify the project: deployment teams can work remotely to address certain issues. This aspect raises another crucial part of a business technology deployment strategy:

“Use a service provider you can talk to, someone who pays attention and has a proven record of delivering technology projects. Can they tackle your requirements with creative and innovative ideas? Are they supplying relevant solutions? Evaluate the potential service provider’s experience by looking at references and case studies. What does their support structure look like after the initial implementation?” says Swart.

Plan, know your requirements, look at your data, involve stakeholders, manage changes, integrate and configure for your environment, train your people, and work with a provider that has extensive experience in planning, deploying and communicating around business technology projects. That’s how you join the 25 percent club of successful digital project implementations.