Options for designing a digital transformationcontrol system

Johannes Trenkle



This paper explores the use of management control measures in the course of digi-tal transformation journeys in small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in orderto sketch a digital transformation control system. It also examines the role of thepublicly promoted concept of “trial-and-error”. I describe SMEs that are leaders interms of digital transformation and analyze the variety of control measures they usein order to follow a structured approach throughout their digital transformationendeavor. I elaborate the role that trial-and-error plays as part of management con-trol procedures. The resulting package of management control measures from cul-tural, planning, administrative, and key performance indicator-oriented categoriesrests on the management control systems as a package framework by Malmi &Brown, 2008. It shows the variety of management control measures useful in sup-porting successful digital transformation in SMEs, pigeonholes the relationship be-tween management control and the phenomenon of “trial-and-error”, and therebygives clues for further academic research to analyze the relationship between sus-tainable success in digital transformation and management control systems, as wellas providing practical advice for SME owners and managers on how to control adigital transformation endeavor.

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