The idea of engaging in a road mapping exercise has gained in popularity in recent years due to the ever changing technology landscape and the pace at which new business process evolves. Contrary to popular belief, a roadmap is not just a pretty Visio! There are many concepts to consider before, during and after embarking on the journey. And a roadmap is not one size fits all, so don’t let the expectations or results of others dictate the expectations for your engagement. This blog series will explore some of the most critical aspects of a road mapping project.
Even roadmaps with the most robust plans are likely to fail if they lack proper engagement from the correct resources. Research conducted by C5 Insight and Success Accelerators on project failure indicates that technology is not the problem, nor is it the solution. Rather, it is how people execute and engage with technology, that has a definitive impact on success. To that end, why not stack the deck in your favor by evaluating the stakeholders from both technology and the business? Select a comprehensive leadership team, comprised of executives or C-suite members, that can provide guidance, prioritize the vision, and make decisions throughout the duration of your roadmap engagement. Next focus on day-to-day leaders of each business unit to lead the core project team(s) and finally on those subject matter experts that have years of hands-on experience under their belts and in their brains.
Consider the impact your long-term vision will have on these people and their colleagues. Don’t you think it’s worth getting their two cents now, rather than dealing with the fallout of disappointment and rework later? Not to mention the value of viral marketing that early supporters and adopters bring to the table, to combat the naysayers that will inevitably rear their ugly heads at some point in the journey. Gaining consensus early, and checking in with stakeholders often, to ensure you’re course correcting as needed, will be the most important aspect of managing the roadmap project. The last thing to consider with regard to resources is to maintain balance throughout each phase of the roadmap. Don’t keep resources on the team unless it is absolutely necessary for them to contribute at that time. Everyone already has a day job, right? So refrain from putting more on their plates unless the immediate focus has an impact on them or you need their expertise to weigh in on future plans.
Definition of Success
Now that the all-star team has been assembled, it is time to determine what success looks like. Sure your business likely has a wish list a mile long that outlines what you want to be doing. But is that what you need to be doing? Sometimes in the eyes of an individual, success looks as simple as putting a check in the box on today’s to-do list. However, to fully execute a roadmap, careful coordination of the needs must occur in order to get to the wants. Take some time to ask yourself the tough questions in order to fully assess if your organization is ready to take on a series of projects in order to get the destination at the end of the roadmap.
- Is leadership on board and engaged? This team shouldn’t just be signing off on the dollars and hoping for the best, they need to be active participants.
- Do we have a vision?
- Is the vision measurable?
- Are our business processes well defined or do we have some homework to do? Does this become part of the long-term roadmap?
- Do we have the funding?
- Do we have the correct resources in place to execute?
- Do those resources have the necessary time to deliver quality results?
- Are we prepared to monitor and control each project?
- Do we have the necessary resources to ensure short-term and long-term training and adoption needs are met?
- Do we have defined processes to foster and manage continuous improvement?
Short-term Pain Points… Long-term Vision… What’s on Second?
If you’ve ever been a part of any kind of significant project, when it comes to defining scope, “creep” is always the next word that comes to mind. We can’t help it, because all too often we find the team steering off course to appease one person’s wants, despite the greater good’s needs. So how do you get around it? Air the dirty laundry first. Mostly because people can’t seem to focus on a solution until they get the negativity off their chests. There are several means by which to collect this feedback, but you should ensure the method provides a safe environment for folks to share their frustrations without criticism or repercussion. Next, focus on the outcome. Where do you want to be in six months, one year, two years, three years? And how can you get there without causing more frustration along the way? Because the other reality is that people are naturally averse to change.
Be certain to align technology advances with the needs of the business. Stack the short-term pain against the long-term vision and prioritize the deliverables. As we mentioned in the Team Engagement section above, this should be a team effort, not a dictatorship. People are more likely to support and adopt what they have a hand in building. If the larger team cannot come to a consensus on some items, escalate those to the leadership team for a final decision. In the end, the team should feel content in knowing that they have been heard, they have had a say in how and when deliverables will be tackled and they have a clear vision of where the roadmap is headed.
It’s time to take stock in the technology you have and the technology you need. Start by counting the number of applications the organization is supporting. Are they all still being used? For what purpose? Then focus on the number of applications the core teams have to utilize on a daily basis to conduct their day-to-day responsibilities. Is that number more than three? If so, spend some time evaluating whether or not you have systems in place that could replace functionality of others with a bit of configuration or development. As an example, do you have a separate system to track Issues or Claims? Do you also have a Customer Relationship or Collaboration Platform like Microsoft Dynamics CRM or SharePoint? Chances are either of those platforms would be prime mechanisms to replace that ancillary claims management tool. The result equates to one less system to maintain for IT and one less system for users to log into.
Part Two Preview
Part two of this series will delve into Risk and Obstacle Evaluation, Return on Investment and Business Case, Culture Change Management, Training and Adoption and the Set It and Forget It Mentality.