Skip to main content

Why modularity is crucial for your digital transformation strategy

Insight Published on 21 March 2022

In this guest blog post, Boris Glushkov from our case management partner Canalix (a GoPro company) explains the concept of modular digital transformation and showcases the benefits it can bring with a case study from a recent UK government project.

How does modularity work in the context of digital transformation?

Modularity can be explained as the extent to which a complex system (such as an inspection management system within regulatory agencies) can be split into separate sub-systems of processes. Imagine separating a regulatory agency’s activities into smaller modules such as resource scheduling, document management, case management, booking job appointments, customer self-service, etc.

Approaching an extensive digital transformation project could be divided into two primary modus operandi: a rip-and-replace or modular digital transformation. These two approaches offer different ways of thinking about digital transformation. The “full-stack”
transformation replaces entire legacy systems with new ones. In comparison, the modular digital transformation approach allows us to identify specific areas that can be transformed to realise the most benefits more quickly.

The success of digital transformation projects

Digital transformation delivers many benefits including increased productivity, cost-effectiveness, improved customer service, new ways of service provision and resilience - during recent times the latter has proven to be especially important in the public sector. But why do some digital transformation projects fail whilst others succeed? Certainly, one of the key success criteria of any digital transformation project is the approach. A modular digital transformation project brings quick and significant wins, which is a solid basis for the future development of any transformational project.

What can CIOs and other functional leaders do to improve the odds of successful digital transformation?

Having a sound vision of the outcome of a digital transformation project is crucial for its success. The idea must be clearly defined: increased productivity, automated business processes, or addressing technical debt. And then, priorities need to be set. Among the
universal priorities in almost every digital transformation project are:

  • Streamlining operational insight to make better decisions
  • Reducing manual work to decrease errors
  • Improving customer service
  • Identifying cost reduction opportunities to save money
  • Improving analytics to deliver better insights

Do we transform these priorities all at once or step by step?

We can have a strategy with a clear vision and priorities, but the strategy’s success may still vary depending on our approach. For example, achieving all the goals with a full-stack digital transformation holds a higher risk for the project. Implementing and moving to a new system can also have a significant impact on an organisation’s day to day operational activities. Breaking the digital transformation project up into different modules, with
specific objectives and goals, allows a more focused effort. Early wins can serve as building blocks, laying the foundation for the success of the follow-on transformation when new modules are eventually added.

In addition to delivering cost savings, reducing processing time and improving resilience, another significant advantage of the modular approach is the reduced time to delivering value. Identifying an area that can deliver quick results helps to combat inertia and builds momentum for change. Demonstrating early success via the modular approach helps sustain support for digital transformation at the leadership level because it gains the trust of both peers and leaders.

Why opt for modular digital transformation approach?

A traditional full-stack digital transformation project can take significant effort, resources, and substantial financial investment, with the risk of achieving an outcome with mixed results. The time is taken to demonstrate value can also be significant if a “rip-and-replace” approach to upgrading systems is taken.

Today, technology has evolved to allow for a more sequenced approach to development. Organisations can take advantage of technologies focused on quickly delivering on single, high priorities for their business whilst also pursuing a long-term plan to build on transformation projects.

Download a copy of the complete whitepaper featuring a case study.


  • Digital Transformation
  • Canalix
  • Technology