Why Your Pega Transformation Projects Keep Failing… And What to Do About It

Why Your Pega Transformation Projects Keep Failing… And What to Do About It

Micah Krebs

Imagine you are sitting in a conference room with your digital transformation team. You have everyone from business stakeholders to platform vendors and system integration partners discussing the new design for your updated digital process. As you are discussing a key feature in this journey that involves integrating with large data sets, someone asks, "Can't it just work like an Excel document?” Have you been here before? Or maybe you've heard one of these instead:

  • "This is how it works in the current system."
  • "Can you make it work like Amazon?"
  • "I want to see all of the data in one place."

If you hear any of these phrases or questions during solution design, it’s a red flag that you have fallen into one of the most common traps teams encounter when implementing digital transformation using a platform like Pega.

What is the trap?

The trap is to mistake “digital replication” for “digital transformation.”

Mistaking "digital replication" for "digital transformation" can be easy to fall into when running fast-paced delivery or facilitating extensive design and planning sessions. Especially if you don't know the trap exists. Think of digital replication as a clone of an existing process. It may be a clone of your legacy process or just a user screen from another tool or solution that you liked. This is often a direct result of over-prescriptive requirements or a lack of creative thinking in your design sessions. By restricting your design to how things have worked in the past or what you already know, you are potentially leaving exponential value growth on the table. True transformation can only result from applying new ideas to your existing process.

How will digital replication affect your Pega transformation project?

The impact of digital replication may be subtle – or even invisible -- to you or your team. In fact, you may even “fail while succeeding.” If you simply clone your legacy process into a new digital tool, you might begin to see measurable improvement without even realizing the additional value you have missed out on. Unlike digital replication, digital transformation has the potential to surface:

  • A new way of thinking about your process might decrease development time and increase the rate of delivery of new features and functionality.
  • A new perspective on the user experience could increase the satisfaction of your end users or reduce the processing time of time-sensitive processes.

In other cases, the impact of digital replication is immediately apparent to everyone. A replicated system solution or process is more likely to produce missed deadlines, underwhelming delivery output, and constant reconsideration and modification of system factors. These failings create direct resource costs and negative consequences for employees, customers, and partners. You can minimize or eliminate these problems by learning to avoid and disarm the replication trap from the beginning.

How can you disarm the trap?

Now that you know that the trap exists and how to identify it, your best option is to avoid it completely. However, if your team does find itself veering towards digital replication, you can disarm the trap by emphasizing the transformation aspect of your journey. Here are some sample questions to refocus your design decisions:

  • Is everyone on the team aligned with the business value proposition? You may be clear on the direct business value of your digital transformation but are the other members of the team? If everyone is not aligned and focused on delivering the core business value, the team may default to delivering the same process you already have.
  • Is there a way to achieve our value targets in a better way? The way you have always done things may not be the best way to do them today. With the advancement of technologies and ideas within your business, there are always ways to reimagine your process for today and the future.
  • How might we provide a better experience through this process? The same as above but focused on the user experience. Each generation of users comes with a new set of features and expectations that make them feel most comfortable.  Your user experience design today should not look like it did 20 years ago.
  • Is there an opportunity to provide additional value with this process? This is the "Are we thinking big enough?" question. Your starting use case may be narrow, but through concepts like low-code, design thinking, and reusable components, there may be opportunities to surpass user expectations and the business value a transformation delivers.


Digital transformation is a continuously unfolding journey, and it’s critical to set out on this journey with a clear purpose. By avoiding the trap of digital replication and focusing on real transformation throughout your journey, you can ensure that your business arrives at the desired destination.

Why settle for "digital replication" when you can deliver real impact through "digital transformation"?

I’d love to hear about the challenges you’ve encountered when architecting and designing digital transformation initiatives. Click here to join our Pega Architect Mastermind community where I co-facilitate a monthly roundtable with architects to breakdown complex design challenges:

Micah Krebs