Risk and Obstacle Evaluation
Once the organization has decided it is indeed ready to take on the daunting task of fulfilling a roadmap, the next round of tough questions begins. The Definition of Success section asked some tough questions about getting started. This section is meant to challenge the organization to identify and assign implementation risks and obstacles as well as brain-storm mitigation and remediation strategies. There may be some redundancy in the two lists but there will likely be other factors unique to your organization. It is critical to take the time to be develop realistic, proactive plans in order to provide the highest probability for success. Some common pitfalls include:
- Culture Change
- User Adoption
- Ease of Use
- Executive Buy-in
- Resource Availability
- Scope Creep
- Staying the Course
- Technical Issues
Are there others that your organization should be planning for?
Return on Investment and Business Case
As you can see, a lot goes into developing and executing a long-term roadmap strategy. It would be negligent to embark on this journey without thoroughly investigating the potential return on investment. Ask yourself the following questions to gather the high level concepts for your business case:
- Does the organization have visibility into the necessary data via robust reports and dashboards to quickly make decisions that will impact growth?
- Do you have a 360 degree view of your customers?
- Are you getting a return on your marketing spend?
- Are you maximizing the relationship with your channel partners and customers?
- Can your teams collaborate effectively within your organization and with channel partners and customers?
- Do you have issues with data management? Outdated content? Duplicates?
- Does your organization struggle with role structuring/permissions management causing a time sink for IT resources?
- Does valuable customer, product and industry knowledge reside solely within the minds of your employees?
- Are you able to quantify how much you lose every time one of those employees leaves the organization?
- Do you lack the resources to properly train employees?
- Is your governance plan non-existent?
- Are you able to easily remediate customer concerns?
- Are several of your processes managed manually today via email and excel files?
Using these concepts, build your business case. Are there technical gains, cost savings, or productivity increases to be had by resolving some of the issues you’ve outlined? Better yet, by improving some of these pain-points, are there top line gains to be had?
Consider this example: ABC Company chose to execute a CRM Implementation in the first phase of its roadmap. Once in place the solution provides a 360 degree view of the customer to ABC’s sales, customer service, marketing and executive teams. This shifts the relationship from reactive to proactive management. CRM also provides an advanced look at ABC’s sales pipeline, which aids executives in making critical decision about marketing spend, production planning, resource planning, as well as valuable insight into potential quality issues. Because the CRM application replaced ABC’s former claims management tool and three ancillary marketing tools, the core customer service and marketing teams now have fewer systems to manage their day-to-day activities and IT has a smaller application footprint to manage. There are several quantifiable wins in this particular example, but the most important is how it allowed several disparate teams to now function as a unified front where customer relations were concerned, thus improving satisfaction, increasing customer retention, increasing repeat sales and ultimately increasing revenue.
Perform the due diligence to identify these opportunities, quantify them and most importantly, measure them.
Culture Change Management, Training and Adoption
Don’t let all of the organization’s effort to execute, and investment in the roadmap go to waste, plan ahead for culture change management, training and adoption. The investment is too important to let these fall by the wayside. As mentioned in previous sections, change is difficult, don’t just assume that if you build it, they will use it. More often than not, that is not the case. Remember these key concepts:
- Listen: Engage stakeholders early and often throughout the duration of the roadmap. Two-way communication is critical. Communicate often, in fact over communication is better than leaving your most valuable assets wondering. But be mindful of their time, engage them as active participants only when necessary.
- Understand: Apply what you’re hearing from those stakeholder to the strategic vision and determine the best path forward. Explore how change will impact the organization and the stakeholders.
- Connect: Again… communicate your decisions, your plans for improvement, your understanding of the impact, your expectations. Prepare robust training for stakeholders upon release of any new technology or business process.
- Know: Follow up with those stakeholders, request feedback. Prepare mini ongoing training exercises, open the door for brown bag lunch-n-learn sessions, provide managerial guidance on new systems and process, provide individual coaching sessions as needed. Identify adoption metrics and measure them. Create a playful sense of competition amongst users and teams, measure their success and encourage them to celebrate. Even the smallest of victories are worth applause, this will keep resource motivated over the long-haul.
Set It and Forget It? Absolutely Not.
Last but not least, the roadmap is a living document. Spend the time to conduct periodic reviews and adjust the plan based on the organization’s current needs and vision. Your number one priority today may not even be on the radar twelve months from now. Not to mention how rapidly organization’s must adapt to keep up with industry trends and customer needs. Evaluating the roadmap and course correcting as needed will ensure the vision stays top of mind and will aid in following through on the planned execution.
Assign ownership of this document to the leadership team. Ensure the review is a planned activity and agenda item for discussion every six months, or at a minimum at the close of each project phase within the long-term plan.