Now that we all rely so heavily on GPS to find our way around the world, map-reading has become a dying skill. But in the business world, map-making is becoming more and more common.
We have strategic roadmaps to guide high-level decision making, career roadmaps to help employees develop their talents, and digital roadmaps to take us to a state of “digital transformation.”
With all this business cartography going on, it’s easy to confuse the visual representation of the journey with the journey itself. But a roadmap doesn’t magically whisk you to the future—it simply points the way there.
This is especially true of a digital roadmap. While planning the phases of your company’s digital evolution may seem a complete project, simply creating a roadmap won’t necessarily help you progress toward any of your digital goals. Expecting it to do so would be like pinning up a map of China and expecting that image to transport you to the Great Wall.
Yes, a digital roadmap gives you a powerful tool for optimizing every aspect of your business. But to successfully leverage it, you must overcome five common myths that hinder organizations from creating and following through on a truly transformative plan.
Myth #1: We’re not big enough to need a detailed digital roadmap
Traditionally, a digital roadmap has shown up as a pricey item on a consulting firm’s menu of services. As a result, many small and medium-sized businesses have come to believe that roadmaps serve only big players.
That just doesn’t make logical sense. As a SMB, your business may not be as complex as a larger business, but that doesn’t mean you steer away from strategic planning, does it? Creating a digital roadmap simply means getting strategic about your digital choices.
Too many SMBs falsely assume that the only way to modernize their business is to stumble through one haphazard digital experiment after another. Whatever the scope of your digital journey, you can map it out, in detail, so you can take a proactive, controlled approach rather than merely reacting to challenges as they arise.
Myth #2: A digital roadmap is too time-consuming to produce
When you’re in growth mode and everyone on your team is juggling multiple responsibilities, time is a scarce resource. So why should you spend it on planning? The Big Guys can afford to invest in boardroom navel-gazing sessions, but you’re moving way too fast for that.
The Big Guys plan because they know that pausing to envision the future is the quickest way to get there. As impossible as it may seem right now, you can take a page from their playbook. By investing in a digital roadmap, you can create a catalytic plan that will give you the impetus and momentum you need to escape the vicious cycle of time-poverty.
A play-by-play digital roadmap doesn’t slow down growth. It offers you a radical growth hack to boost your business to the next level more rapidly than you might imagine.
Myth #3: A digital roadmap is a static overview
A digital roadmap provides an elegant visual representation of the steps and stages that will modernize your business. But an effective digital roadmap isn’t merely a work of planning art; it’s a living document that should galvanize you and your team into action.
In fact, “digital roadmap” makes the more sense as a verb than as a noun. Ideally, digital roadmapping is a collaborative, iterative process that guides you as you grow.
At iTransform, our roadmap method leads you through six steps:
- Digital Discovery—We start with an in-depth conversation with your leadership team to understand your strategic business goals and identify key business issues requiring attention.
- Digital Maturity Assessment—We distribute an online survey to everyone who participated in the Digital Discovery session as well as others in the organization. The survey responses enable us to evaluate how well the business is performing on various measures related to digital transformation. Only some of the metrics refer to technology. Some of the most important items in the survey give us insight into the state of employee skills, for instance and organizational attitudes toward change.
- Design Thinking Session—During this half-day conversation with key stakeholders, we discuss the results of the Digital Maturity Assessment, probing differences in responses. Together, we examine the root causes of issues and reframe “technology issues” as business issues.
- Digital Discovery—Armed with insights from the design thinking session, our team scours the market for digital solutions that can be customized to resolve the recognized business issues. We also consider solutions that could be built from scratch.
- Business Idea Validation—Using criteria developed during the design thinking session, you evaluate the different digital solutions presented and choose the options that will best advance your mission-critical business goals.
- Delivery of the Digital Roadmap—We present you with a comprehensive, step-by-step guide to implementing strategic digital initiatives. The plan includes key performance indicators so you can measure your progress, especially the return on your investment through small, quick wins early in your digital journey.
This final roadmap is, however, never truly final. It is designed to adapt and grow with you, and you’ll find it easy to update and reconfigure as your plans for your digital future continue to emerge.
Myth #4: A digital roadmap is just for the C-suite
A digital roadmap isn’t a picture to hang in the boardroom on the executive floor. It’s a practical, essential tool for getting your team aligned with your vision of a fully modernized business.
Particularly for SMBs, a digital roadmap provides a visual reference point everyone on the team can rally around. In an environment where everyone adapts and plays different roles as needed, the roadmap can keep everyone headed in the right direction, regardless of how assigned tasks may shift.
Myth #5: A digital roadmap is a DIY project
As a SMB, you’re probably skilled at finding do-it-yourself solutions to business challenges. But building a digital roadmap isn’t something you can figure out on your own, even if you’re a technology company. It takes a second set of ears and eyes to investigate your situation from multiple angles, assess your organization’s level of digital maturity, and recommend innovative solutions.
The partner you choose to create your roadmap should, however, take a collaborative approach. In the end, the digital journey is yours to take, not theirs, so you’ll want to take an active role in planning it.
Ultimately, a digital roadmap embodies your vision of a fully optimized business, across all aspects of your organization. It should present a portrait of the future that’s both inspiring and attainable. You’ll want to get expert help painting that picture so you can bring it to life in the way that makes the most sense for your business and your budget.
When you set aside these five myths about digital roadmaps, you and your team can focus on (and maybe even enjoy) the strategic process of re-evaluating each aspect of the way you do business. A living roadmap gives you clarity and a shared sense of direction so you can keep doing what you do so well while considering innovative ways to evolve.
For a more detailed look at our SMB-friendly approach to digital roadmapping, visit us at https://i-transform.ca/grant-for-digital-roadmap-nb/