Creating Your Digital Roadmap in 9 Steps

So, you’ve come to realize that your business needs a digital roadmap to increase the success rate of implanting new technology. Perhaps you read about the importance of a roadmap in our previous article: The Competitive Edge Gained by Creating a Digital Roadmap. Or you’ve come to this conclusion after learning the dismal success rates of those who go into a digital transformation without a roadmap defined beforehand. (a full 70% fail!!) No matter how you’ve reached this conclusion, you’re at the step to learn HOW to create your own digital roadmap for your business.

With my years of experience as a virtual CIO for many business clients, I have divided the process into 9 steps, as seen here:

Let’s take a look each step in detail so that you can complete the process yourself and begin reaping the benefits of a roadmap.

First, we have to start with the famous WHY. Although we’ve all been convinced of the importance of starting with WHY, it is still an often-neglected step. To find the WHY, outline the benefits of creating a digital roadmap. (Some examples: keeping your competitive edge, modernizing your company’s processes, increasing cost-effectiveness, capitalizing on employees’ strengths). There are at least three advantages of determining the WHY of creating a digital roadmap.

  1. Effective Communication: By communicating the WHY, you’re able to convince stakeholders of the importance of a digital transformation, which can be perceived as costly and time-consuming. It also motivates employees to be proactive in the process of digital transformation, which can be seen as counter-productive and a threat to their employment.
  2. A Journey: Be sure to make clear that digital transformation is not a destination, but rather a journey. Stakeholders must understand that it is a mix of various projects, not just one. And it is a continuous cycle of planning, implementing, analyzing, adjusting.
  3. Decision-Making: Knowing your WHY, will help you make critical decisions when challenges arise as the implementation progresses.

Remember, you are playing the long game. Be patient and take the time to determine your WHY.

After the WHY is the WHERE. WHERE should I start? This is the question I most often hear from my clients once they’re convinced of the importance of creating a digital roadmap. To determine the starting point, first do an assessment of your business’s Strengths and Weaknesses (the SW of the famous SWOT). Since these two factors are internal, and therefore completely in your power to control, they will guide you in where to start. These internal assets/liabilities include: leadership skills, employee buy-in, technology and tools, your markets. Once you know your internal Strengths and Weaknesses, then do an analysis of the external Opportunities and Threats (the OT of SWOT). These external assets/liabilities include: competition, financial markets, regulations.

The third step to creating your digital roadmap is to determine your highest value interaction, otherwise known as your cash cow. 🐄 Choose one quote-to-cash process that brings in the most profit. We will map out the process in step five, but for now determine which one you will focus on.

Now, meet your people. Learn from them the step-by-step process of the highest value interaction from lead generation to getting paid. Do interviews with employees of all levels to learn about inefficiencies in the process and improvements that can be made to better their experience and that of clients. From them you will learn where to automate and where to capitalize on human interactions. Although you may be tempted to skip this step, what you learn will be extremely worthwhile and valuable in carrying out a successful digital transformation.

Once you have determined which process you will focus on and have met with your people to find out how they perceive the process, it is time for the next step, step five: Map it out. The same process should be written out step-by-step from three difference perspectives: User Experience (UX), Customer Experience (CX) and Employee Experience (EX).

  1. For going through the process as a typical user (UX), recruit an external resource who fits within your target clientele. Have them go through the process from finding your website to paying for your product or service.
  2. Now, they have reached the customer role and can contribute to gaining knowledge about the following steps (CX). Again, have them share any hiccups, frustrations and gaps in the process.
  3. Lastly, take the same process and see it from the employees’ perspective (EX). Have an employee go through the entire process and report on any inefficiencies, redundancies or gaps.

You’ve finally reached the step of Creating Your Plan, step six. Again, only focusing on the process surrounding your highest value interaction, identify the inefficiencies and gaps in the process that you discovered in the last two steps. Each one is a project that will need to be addressed to streamline the process. Now take the list of projects and divide them into smaller, easier-to-manage projects. Consider the following four factors when making your plan:

  1. The priority of each project. Which one should be done first? Last?
  2. The timeline including phases for each project. These phases can be overlapping or have lapses of time between them.
  3. Time for staff to absorb changes. Remember that learning new processes takes time.
  4. Training. Be sure to include time to train employees on how to implement changes.

You are now ready to determine what you need to measure once the system is up-and-running. It may seem early in the process to decide this already, but it is better to put systems into place from the beginning than try to retrofit months after the Go Live. Be sure to include both qualitative measurements (adoption rates, profit rates) and qualitative measurements (customer comments, for example) into your plan. Again, plan on taking measurements from all three perspectives: customer experience (CX), user experience (UX) and employee experience (EX).

The next step is often neglected, to one’s detriment. It is primordial to get management and stakeholders on board. You will need their 100% buy-in to make the business’s digital transformation a success. Again, you do not want to become one of the 70% of businesses that fail in their transformation. Statistics show that three-quarters of these fail because management was not on board. Those at the top often want a project to be implemented in one easy step. They don’t recognize the fact that a transformation is a journey, not a destination. Instead, encourage management to be patient in the process and to continually show their appreciation of the work the team is doing.

Now it’s finally time to make your plan official. The whole company should not only know the transformation has started, but also feel it. Each member of the team must feel part of the journey, ready to take the first step, and be committed to carrying out their part of the process. You will need their input and feedback throughout the journey, so be sure to mark the departure with a special event. Help the team have realistic expectations of the transformation so that they do not get discouraged along the way. Emphasize the benefits but also the challenges that may come up.

These nine steps will guide you as you create your digital roadmap. By carrying out each step fully, you increase your success rate. Of course, you could willy-nilly choose technologies based on short-term needs or employee demands. But having a roadmap will keep you from wasting time, money and human capacities on short term gain. Remember, we’re in it for the long game.

You want to know how to create YOUR IT Roadmap in just a few steps?

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