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Engineering sustainable digital transformation projects immune to technical debt

Maria-Isabel Sanchez-Segura (Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid–Campus de Leganes, Leganés, Spain)
Fuensanta Medina-Dominguez (Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid–Campus de Leganes, Leganés, Spain)
German-Lenin Dugarte-Peña (Centro de Investigación Interdisciplinar en Matemática Aplicada, Computación y Simulación, Higher Polytechnic School, Universidad Francisco de Vitoria, Madrid, Spain)
Antonio de Amescua-Seco (Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid–Campus de Leganes, Leganés, Spain)
Roxana González Cruz (Telefónica de España, Madrid, Spain)


ISSN: 0368-492X

Article publication date: 28 December 2022

Issue publication date: 13 February 2024




The current scenario is dominated by an urgent need for economic recovery caused by the global health emergency that has been at work since January 2020. Digital transformation plays a crucial role in bringing about this recovery. However, the failure rate of digital transformation projects over the last 10 years is very high. Considering the growing demand for digital transformation from businesses, the digital transformation failure rate, if unchanged, could lead to an exponential growth in technical debt. Technical debt is acquired when the digital transformation to be deployed at a business fails. The accumulation of technical debt will lead not only to economic stalemate but possibly also to yet another setback.


The developed set of methodologies form what has been termed the Digital Transformation Governance Engineering Process (DTGEP). This process can help any business wishing to undertake a digital transformation project to materialize their project in a sustainable, productive and competitive way.


DTGEP prevents the generation of technical debt because organizational knowledge is aligned with the technological solution that best suits the needs of each business in order to support its strategic or business objectives.

Research limitations/implications

DTGEP has already been used to successfully discover the relationship between business features and the prospective digital transformation. However, it needs to be applied in case studies on many other businesses across the economy in order to gather more accurate information that could be clustered by sectors.


DTGEP was tested on a set of 25 projects, and this paper reports several interesting findings regarding its use, like the impact of the digital transformation on different parts of the business model canvas (BMC) and the intellectual capital of the organization developing the digital transformation, and how the status of the organization's intangible assets affects the decision-making process with respect to the prospective digital transformation.



This research was partially funded by the RESTART project –“Continuous Reverse Engineering for Software Product Lines/Ingeniería Inversa Continua para Líneas de Productos de Software” (ref. RTI 2018-099915-B-I00), 2018 National Societal Challenge-Oriented R&D&I Research Program Call for R&D Projects.


Sanchez-Segura, M.-I., Medina-Dominguez, F., Dugarte-Peña, G.-L., de Amescua-Seco, A. and González Cruz, R. (2024), "Engineering sustainable digital transformation projects immune to technical debt", Kybernetes, Vol. 53 No. 3, pp. 1092-1116.



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