The Top Seven Ingredients in a Digital Plan
Blog: Jim Sinur
Organizations are seeking ways to create a plan to get to a digital organization that creates value in new ways. While this will require some experimentation / evolution and will be done in an incremental fashion, for the most part, there is no excuse not to establish a plan to get there. In this post, I’d like to suggest what a target plan might initially contain. It is a start that will be altered as time passes, but organizations need a stake in the ground to anchor the efforts to get to digital. This begs the question “What does a Digital Target Plan look like?” I’ve Identified seven major ingredients with several deliverable outputs contained with each ingredient category that will change an evolve over time.
DO IT; TRY IT & FIX IT
1. Target Architecture:
The target architecture is the representation of the business model and all of the technical supports underneath it. This model would likely be visual in nature with supporting vision statements, policies, constraints, large grain goals and incremental phases of change (EG; a local roll-out of a new model & processes / applications to support the model for later improvement or expansion). These phase could be viewed as innovative proof of business concepts and digital technologies working together. Perhaps on an experimental basis at first. It’s from this key piece that refinements and revisions emerge.
2. Benefits & Costs:
This is a traditional cost benefit approach with capital expenditures, budgets and income sources identified up front. These would be updated as phases occur and monetary benefits will be the fuel for future phases (in whole or partially). This not a new approach, but traditional bench mark ratios may have to be slightly diluted because of the investment nature of the digital efforts (reducing the investment hurdle rate temporarily for selected phases). There may also be a need to establish some extra rewards for productive risk taking behavior that needs to be factored into the budgets.
3. Rough Organization:
Creating an organizational model that identifies significant and engaged sponsors, risk taking people and emergent skills will be crucial to getting a digital plan lift. It is important to have visionary sponsors with proven deliver track records. It is also important to have people that embrace new ideas and skills because the skills may not be readily available on the market at any price much less a price you can afford. If your organization is embracing innovation through experimentation, which is almost a must when targeting digital, rapid learning curves and great skills transfer folks will be a must.
4. Contributing Technologies:
Organization must target the kind of technologies they want to embrace for each phase of the incremental transformation. This will probably a list of technologies and a definition of what they are and what they can do for an organization. In addition, organizations will need to asses the relative maturity of each and the kind of skills necessary to test and implement them. Special proof of technology projects may have to be inserted in the plan to test out the capabilities.
5. Projects Needed:
Organizations are used to project selection and planning, but the digital efforts will likely require more pioneering and proof of concept (POC) projects for experimenting with new business approaches and technologies. Incremental phases will also need to be planned with appropriate follow on projects and necessary POCs.
6. Verification Approaches:
Establishing visual and highly distributed measurements of progress or success will be essential for moving a digital effort forward. While making the results highly visible will increase questions and give fuel to the doubters, those committed to success will be motivated by shared results and will make suggestions for better efforts. Once success is sensed a strong communication effort should be launched, if not in the plan already.
7. Experiment & Post Audits:
It is imperative to learn from each of the efforts, so identifying what went well and what could have been done better is essential for success in the digital world. Not only during the development but the operations of the resulting business model, process and applications. This must be done without a “punish the guilty” attitude, so that transparency is high for all the sponsors and contributors. The world is watching.
Going Digital will require organizations to innovate through experimentation, but there is no excuse not to plan. Learning to adjust the plans when experiments show that organizations should alter the plans will be a challenge as this is new territory for a number of organizations.
Additional Reading on Digital: