29 February 2016
The Dark Side of Agility: don’t let agility outweigh strategy
Generally, when an organization is looking to be agile – they are looking to move quickly with their implementation. They want to get everything completed fast, and what tends to happen with an agile implementation is there is little forethought or strategy and launch is delayed because of unforeseen circumstances.
However, what an organization should look to do is move at ease because they were quick to strategize upfront and create a plan to successfully implement a customer experience solution or move forward on an internal process change.
The Dark Side of Agility
Let me tell you a story about an agile organization with the best intentions.
A few years ago, a large retailer decided to hire a team of 100 consultants to release 18 new applications in just 8 months. Their obsession with a complete overhaul of their information technology systems in a Big Bang approach blinded them from understanding the strategic business objectives and goals of each solution implementation and also the dependencies of each project that delayed the successful implementation. The launch ended up taking several years past the initial go-live date, with hundreds of changes at a cost that was far beyond budget. This resulted in a zero ROI for the entire program.
The learnings from this: moving quickly without strategy is a hindrance to your goals and ROI. Being agile without being nimble will get you nowhere quickly.
What does a Nimble Implementation Look Like?
Nimble organizations are quick because they have thought through a solution implementation from the very beginning. Cross functional stakeholders are identified and interviewed, existing processes are reviewed and cataloged, and the existing governance process is documented and/or updated to reflect the current state.
A team works together to identify the right initiatives through assessments, benchmarking and a gap analysis. The cross functional team aligns on shared customer experience goals and completes an ROI analysis ahead of time. Organizations identify all internal constraints and set a realistic timeline to roll out their solution with a phased approach tied to project milestones.
To do this, all organization stakeholders must leave the “all or nothing” sentiment behind and understand that a phased approach will be more rewarding to their business and customers in the long run.
From this upfront strategy work, a nimble organization creates a phased roadmap to their end goal. Each solution on the roadmap has a business case, requirements, and a timeline to get from point A to B to C. And each solution has a determined long-term viability and enterprise capability fit.
While this upfront strategy work can be completed swiftly, it is pivotal to laying the groundwork for a nimble solution implementation that launches on time and achieves ROI and business objectives.
Phase One of the Roadmap: High Priority Updates
A nimble organization forms a cross-departmental team that has aligned on business drivers and goals to achieve true project ROI. The team has a strategic vision and has prioritized the business objectives that need to be addressed.
Phase one deliverables are the high priority items, where improvement to customer experience comes at a low cost and a high benefit to the organization and their customers.
Depending on your organization’s infrastructure and needs, high priority items can range greatly in type and scope. Knowledge management is something that one of our clients had challenges with. We recently built a how to guide of best practices for Account Management Representatives (AMR’s) leveraging Microsoft Word and SharePoint as a stop gap until an enterprise solution could be built. This will allow their agents to become more efficient handling issues with customers as large scale implementations are underway.
Another phase one project we recently completed was a redesign of an SMB’s sales process, so marketing and sales were aligned and using the sales force automation tool in the correct way.
Both of these projects are a part of a larger cross functional customer experience effort, but they were nimble fixes to make immediate change and lead the way to phase two and three efforts.
Phase Two of the Roadmap: Customer Centric Initiatives
Once phase one has been implemented and the organization is seeing enterprise wide benefits from their customer experience upgrade, the baseline has been established. Now comes phase two.
In phase two, the organization looks at what solution implementations will enhance the way they engage customers across channels.
During this phase, cross business processes are reviewed, streamlined, and prioritized to encourage sharing of customer data, enabling all business units to triage customer needs and escalate issues within the appropriate business group.
At the same time, software solution objectives and requirements are defined to support the new cross business processes. Below are a couple sample phase two projects:
- Service, sales, and marketing align on the entire customer journey and determine key initiatives and reporting that will help increase customer engagement and reduce friction within customer interactions.
- A service department may implement a claims management solution that provides visibility into the current status of a claim to both the customer and key departments. This would empower the customer as he/ she would no longer have to reach out to the service organization to check the status of a claim or service ticket.
You don’t want to leave yourself with work that turns out to be quixotic;
you must be adaptable and understand the benefit…
and how it will affect the larger organization and stakeholders.
Phase Three of the Roadmap: 360° View
Once phases one and two have been implemented, we focus on the holistic 360° view of how your organization engages with customers to increase loyalty. We identify areas where you can strengthen your brand across marketing, sales and service and make sure that all departments have a view of all customer interactions.
Depending on an organization’s needs, a typical phase three implementation might include adding a customer service channel or integrating existing channels on the back end, so the entire organization has access to data within that channel. As we complete phase three, the strategic roadmap is reassessed to determine what changes are needed to the overall roadmap and vision. Customer expectations and technologies are always evolving, and the desired customer experience vision should also continue to evolve.
If you engage in upfront strategy, keep projects to a manageable size and scope, and progress along an iterative roadmap, you will find that your organization is able to be nimble and implement customer experience initiatives that succeed.
In my 10+ years of CX and CRM experience as a Salesforce and Oracle Certified Consultant, I’ve acted as an advisor to organizations ranging from Fortune 50 organizations to Non-Profit government orgs looking to optimize process and technology solutions for Master Data Management, Service, Field Services, and Sales. I’ve lead the technical design and architecture of solutions as well as managed technical teams and project timelines to ensure successful launches that hit their target goals.
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