It’s Time to Be Strategic about Your Implementation Strategy

March 15, 2016 John Gorup

implementation strategy

When it comes to technology strategy, there are 2 main problems organizations fall into. The first problem is that strategy is barely done at all. Management sees a new technology implementation as just a way to replace old technology. Often, things like customer and worker journey mapping, business cases, or roadmaps with specific phases are not considered.

The second problem is there is too much strategy. Organizations spend too much time and money gathering data, conducting interviews, and doing analysis. At the end of a months-long (or years-long!) journey is a tiresome 5-year plan.

Skimping on strategy: lost value and increased risk

Skimping on strategy may save money in the short term, but ends up costing a lot. For example, a company might replace a 15-year-old Siebel system for Salesforce. Immediately jumping into objects, pages, and migrating data distracts organizations from rethinking their processes. Without this rethinking, organizations lose a lot of the value of the new system. Jumping into development also adds a lot of risk. Without careful planning, organizations will recreate the mistakes of the old system, rollout to users in an illogical manner, or create throwaway technical work.

Paralysis by analysis

The second problem is that companies do too much strategy without usable results. The traditional strategy projects are cumbersome, daunting, and often lose sight of the original goals. The end product is often a 75-slide presentation that gets filed away in various executives’ desks. These end up too expensive to be discarded, yet too impractical to implement. And often, by the time they are completed, the business has changed.

Be strategic about strategy

Investing in a strategy upfront means creating a vision that serves a broader objective, that works cross-functionally, and accelerates and enhances value. To help our clients be strategic without falling into paralysis, we’ve developed an approach we call Actionable Strategy .

We believe an effective strategy has 3 key elements:

  1. A good strategy is an actionable strategy. This means strategic guidance should focus on investments that deliver tangible results in the short term while promoting long-term vision and success. In other words, value in days and weeks, not months and years.
  2. Strategy should be driven by and through customer and worker perspectives. It’s a common misconception that business objectives should drive initiatives. In the age of the customer, all initiatives must be driven by the effect it will have on an organization’s customers and workers. Our strategists will consistently and constantly ask 2 questions: What value will it bring to your customers? How will your workers be impacted? With this philosophy, we ensure that the Customer and Worker Experience — and therefore the health and strength of an organization — champion any major initiative.
  3. Find strategists who have lived it, coded it, and won’t abandon you. Instead of being “lifelong strategists,” strategists should have a unique strategic and technical DNA. They’re a special breed who can straddle both the business needs and the technical translations. Because of this, they can avoid the traps of lofty goals or technically myopic plans. We call our strategists “free-thinking” because they have the experience in multiple industries to bring the best practices to your roadmap.

Also, the strategy team should not be completely separate from the delivery team. Too often when a strategy engagement is completed, the strategist is never seen again. At Appirio, we ingrain our strategists in projects alongside the delivery team to ensure that the strategic vision is never lost, and if a course change is needed, it can be made with strategic impact in mind.

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