Over the past 2 weeks, I have shared how to onboard your CEO and executives and take your very first steps towards Digital Transformation.
I underlined that along with having a clear and phased Digital Vision (where you want to go and through which steps), it is key to establish your Digital Roadmap: i.e. how to reach your vision.
As such, Digital is no evolution, but a revolution. It has deep impact on all of a company’s organisation: the IT systems, the way of working to build solutions, your organization itself, the commercial approach, daily activities and operations… all of which can open the door to failure and set your company upside down. The countermeasure is a clever and wise roadmap: treat Digital as a scalable revolution.
Working on a phased Digital Vision (see my previous post) should have already set the pace for your evolution to the revolution. Nevertheless, you will need to manage expectations from the start and fight against some common beliefs:
- “I am not concerned by Digital.”
Yes you are… as everybody inside the company. Digital is not only about a nice client app, it is also about changing the processes to support your Digital shop window. Just as much as the organisation, the commercial approach and the daily work are impacted, you as an employee are concerned.
- “Next year, we will be a digital company.”
In my point of view, a successful Digital Transformation takes at least 3 to 5 years, depending on the company size, the complexity of an organisation, the CEO’s commitment (and money) and finally, IT capacity.
- “Big is beautiful.”
Small too… Digital is not one single huge project delivering in one fell swoop THE revolutionary digital solution. It will be a constellation of small initiatives and phased project deliveries.
- “Consultancy is the only way.”
I strongly believe that a vision, its strategy and the roadmap must be a company’s proprietary assets. I am sure that you have clever and open-minded employees who able to work with you on your digital future. External consultants are useful but only to provide, if needed, some methodology and the missing resources or knowledge.
I am convinced that digital is an intense collaborative project, mixing people all across the company. As everybody is concerned, you must consider the needs and the ideas from all.
Your very first step to build your Digital Roadmap must be a bottom-up collect. It will provide you with a wide range of needs and ideas even if you ask some basic questions:
- What is missing for you?
- What do you expect from a digital initiative?
- Which digital initiative(s) could change and/or improve your daily work?
- Do you know any client (internal and/or external) expectations towards digital?
A bottom-up collect can be achieved in several ways: from workshops to suggestion boxes, from individual interviews to co-designing work sessions, from opinion polls to qualitative surveys.
My preference is a mix of these and to work with a community. As a community is a powerful engine not only for ideation but also for change management, I will come back to this in my next post.
What is for sure is that you must manage expectations: all ideas are good but everything cannot be done and a selection will be made. Be clear on this point to all participants.
If you have limited experience in collaborative methodologies or if you expect some resistance, an external partner could then be helpful. Always keeping in mind that they should not take-over or design your strategy and roadmap, but help to drive you to them.
Big rivers are made from small ones. Floods too…
Collecting ideas and needs across your company will most probably provide you a wide spread of digital initiatives. These will be your raw material, not, yet, your Digital Roadmap.
Once you have them, you will be time to match the ideas and needs (your initiatives) with your phased Digital Vision and to select which ones will be in your roadmap.
Each initiative must fit in at least 1 phase. If not, there are several possibilities to consider in the following order:
- Your phased Digital Vision is not fully accurate and should be adapted.
Collecting ideas and needs can also highlight a design fault or a breach in your vision or in the way you phased it. This is not a big issue at this stage, rather it should be seen as a good exercise to validate your vision.
- The initiative is too disruptive.
Your first reflex was to reject it, but, in fact, the initiative is in line with your vision. So remember to constantly ask yourself if you are not wearing blinders…
- The initiative is outside the vision.
Even if outside, you must keep all initiatives which are not against the vision. Despite that at this phase you might not give them much consideration, they are challengers to reconsider when you will do your reassessment at the end of a phase.
After this first filter, you will most probably still have too many initiatives… Do not try to put all of them in your roadmap (avoid the flood) but select the strongest ones (build the big river).
How to set priorities?
I use a simplified method to evaluate each initiative that always takes into consideration the same scale to evaluate all criteria: high, medium, low, none, unknown.
- Contribution to the vision
Low or no contribution does not mean that the initiative must be rejected. You must consider the other criteria.
If the contribution is unknown, it shows that you must consider running a pilot.
- Added value for clients
Depending on you Digital Vision and its objectives, you could add other criteria such as the added value for employees (their wellness) or added value for efficiency. I do, however, advise you to keep your evaluation criteria very simple and to focus on clients.
Taking into consideration the potential impact of these 2 criteria, your priorities will fall into place:
- Both high? You have your P1, the highest priority.
- One high and one medium? These are your second priorities P2.
- Medium/medium or high/low? They are your last priority P3.
- High or medium together with one unknown? You must plan a pilot to eliminate your uncertainties.
- None/none or none/unknown? Just reject these initiatives.
- And for the remaining combinations? Some of these initiatives could receive a P3 or be assigned to a pilot, depending on your last evaluation step.
The last step is to evaluate the complexity.
I limit myself to IT complexity (efforts together with technology risk) and the global risk (legal, regulatory, control, image). For example, I do not worry about business complexities as they will be addressed in the change management plans.
Cut the cake and avoid indigestion
Each initiative must fit in one and only one phase. If not, split the initiative into several ones and evaluate each part as previously done.
Consider also breaking down the initiatives that have a medium to high level of complexity.
This last step will help to avoid projects that are too long and/or risky. Follow just this simple rule: each piece of cake must satisfy your appetite and you must be able to finish your plate.
Now that you have a view of each of the initiatives per phase, you will be able to validate if you have the right phased Digital Vision. Indeed, if all your P1 (your highest prioritie) are highly complex and are concentrated in one phase, you must reconsider either your phases (is a phase missing? should I re-order my phases?) or the way you split your initiatives.
Just do not try to eat your cake in a single bite… Prefer small bites and mix the tastes as you would with a marbled cake: small and big initiatives, involving IT or pure business players, quick wins and long term solutions.
I personally prefer to be able to speak while eating than getting my mouth overfilled…
Cogito et innovate ergo sum
I think and innovate, therefor I am…
Digital is a fast and changing world. You must keep room in your Digital Roadmap for the pilots you need and for innovation.
If your Digital Roadmap mobilises all your capacity to 100%, I strongly advise you to arbitrate or change the priority from some of your initiatives to leave space for new ideas and innovation. As a Digital Transformation lasts 3 to 5 years, be prepared to have your digital world changed several times…
When done, it’s done
A Digital Roadmap exercise could last forever… There are always new ideas, other competitors and new technologies. Once you have collected and evaluated the initiatives with their priorities, you must close the exercise to finalise your roadmap.
I am not saying that no change is allowed for the coming 3 to 5 years. Prefer planned and regular challenges, as opposed to continuously reviewing and challenging your ongoing roadmap.
Now that you should be ready to move onto the next steps:
- Go back to your CEO to validate the roadmap.
- Draw up your roadmap for the first phase.
With your IT and all requested stakeholders, you will dive deep into the details and set your projects’ plans. Plan for some future adjustments based on your in-depth analysis.
- Launch the requested pilots, if any, for the first phase.
- Establish and launch your first communication plan about the Digital Vision, its objectives and the first phase of the roadmap.
This is your first step towards change management – more on this front in the coming weeks.
During your roadmap elaboration, you have most probably noticed that you have a mandatory partner: your CTO. Even if you have quick wins and pure business initiatives, your digital transformation pace will rely on your IT.
But is your CTO a provider or a partner? See you next week.