How many of us in the profession can truly say we have been taught to develop, refine, and deliver a professional roadmap based on a sound method with consistent repeatable results? Have been in project and change environments for years, and still astonished at the wide variety of quality in the results I have experienced over the years – and it is not getting any better. Not sure I can identify why this is so, maybe it is the consolidation and changes in the traditional consulting business or, the depreciation of the craft itself among our peers. And then again, maybe sound planning went out of style and I did not get the memo. No matter what the root cause(s) is I want to take a little time and share some (not all) of what has worked for me with great success over the years and may make your next roadmap better.
I’m no genius, but, investing in structured thinking, communication skills, and just plain good old analytic skills over the years has made the difference. Why there is not more of this kind of investment is truly troubling.
What I’m going to share works well across most transformation programs. You will struggle to find this in the one place (I have looked, maybe not hard enough). You will most likely find something similar to this in the best and brightest organisations who have adopted an optimised way to think about how to guide their organisations to perform as expected (some of us call this experience).
High-Level Business Change Roadmap Stages
At the risk of over-simplifying things, here is the overall pattern all business transformation roadmaps should follow:
1) Develop a clear and unambiguous understanding of the current state
– Business Objectives (not just strategy or goals, real quantifiable objectives)
– Functional needs
– High impact business processes or, cycles
– Organization (current operating model)
– Cost and complexity drivers
– Business and technical artefacts
2) Define desired end state
First, (I know this is obvious right) what are trying to accomplish? Is there an existing goal-driven strategy clearly articulated into quantifiable objectives? Sounds obvious, yet many companies set out on their change program without a strategic plan or, an implementation strategy to track their progress getting there. Where it does exist in other cases business does not know about it or, cannot clearly make out what the end game means in terms of their objectives.
This could be a well-guarded secret. Or, what is more, common the line of sight from executive leadership down to the front lines is broken, where no one knows what the true goals are or, cares (it’s just a job after all) becomes an annual charade of managing by objectives with no real understanding.
Some better examples I would expect include:
– Balanced Scorecard Performance targets linked to strategy
– Operating Model Improvements
– Guiding principles
3) Conduct Gap Analysis
Okay, now this is where the true fun starts! Once here we can begin to evaluate the DELTA between who we really are, and what we truly want to become. Armed with a clear understanding of where we are and where we want to be, the actionable activities begin to fall out and become evident.
Gap closure strategies can then begin to be discussed, shared, and resolved into any number of possibilities usually involving the following initiatives:
– Architectural (technology)
The DELTA, in this case, represents the recommended Gap Closure Strategy between current and desired end states. Or put simply, the changes we need to execute to close the gap between where are, and where we want to be.
Now that we have the list of changes it is time to prioritise what is front of us. This is usually driven by a roadmap by evaluating the relative business value AND the complexity, plotting the risk and reward to determine if, the change is worthwhile.
It is critical here that the stakeholders are engaged in the collection of the data points and they are keenly aware of what they are scoring. At the end of the day, what we are doing here is IDENTIFYING what is feasible and what has the highest business value. I know, I know this sounds obvious, and you would be astonished by how often this does not occur.
5) Discover the Optimum Sequence For Your Portfolio of Changes
Okay, now we have the initiatives, the prioritisation, how about order by which one delivers the portfolio of agreed changes? In other words are there things we have to get accomplished first, before others? Are there dependencies we have identified that need to be satisfied before moving forward? This sounds foolish as well, and we sometimes we need to learn how to crawl, walk, run, ride a bike, and then drive a motor vehicle.
What about the readiness of an organisation to take on change? Not to be overlooked, this is where a clear understanding of the organisational change dynamics is critical (see step number 1, this is why we need to truly understand where we are). Remember culture eats strategies and plans for breakfast, dinner and tea!
6) Develop and Communicate the Road Map To The Impacted Stakeholder Groups
Now we are ready to develop the roadmap. Armed with the DELTA (current versus desired end state), the prioritisation effort (what should be done), and the optimum sequence (in what order) we can begin to assemble a sensible, defensible roadmap describing what should be done in what order. How this is communicated is critical now.
We have the facts, we have the path outlined, and we have a defensible position to share with our peers. We have the details readily available to support our position. Now the really difficult exercise rears its ugly head. Somehow, we need to craft a simple yet compelling vision of how we will transform the business, or enable new technology to accomplish what is needed.
Do not underestimate this task, after all the hard work put into an exercise like this, the last thing we need to do is to confuse our stakeholders with mind-numbing detail.
So, this is the basic pattern describing how a robust roadmap should be developed for any organisation across any discipline (business or, technology) to ensure an effective planning effort. Wanted to share this with you to help you with your own work, this is usually not an exercise to be taken lightly.
We are after all discussing some real-world impacts to many, all the while understanding the laws of unintended consequences, to come up with a set of actionable steps to take along the way that just makes sense. This method has worked for me time after time. I think this may just work for you as well.
What do you think? Is this helpful? Happy to discuss these points with you to see what is really relevant.