Step One to Developing Your Digital Roadmap

Let’s get one thing straight before we start into this process.  I was at a different conference several months back and there was mention that with digitalization – process is dead.  It shocked me.  Maybe I am not thinking about this correctly (and please chime in if I am wrong), but I do not want to apply digitalization on a broken process or on bad data.  Seems like the ol’ equation of just getting crap faster – and we have already lived through that too many times.  With that said, I do firmly believe that the processes we have today can be radically re-imagined and machine learning can help us with the data problem.  So, if you are in the “process is dead camp”, you might not like what I will be recommending in this posting.  Just a word of warning.  J

Ok, now that we are clear on that, where to start.  Step One is to define the problem you are trying to solve.  This is often overlooked and critically important, especially when you are trying to explain why you are changing to your teams.  Without a problem defined, you do not know if you are successful in solving your needs, how to communicate the change, and how to keep your scope locked in.
Here is how you go about defining the problem:
  1.  Pick a scope you want to work on.  Think of it maybe in terms of I want to digitalize procure to pay or source thru pay.  Be deliberate in your scope, as it sets the course for the rest of the work we are doing.
  2. Define a team of people who are involved in the process.  Please remember those people upstream and downstream to the process – like in procure to pay – your end users and your suppliers.  Also, try to keep to it a group under 15.  If you feel like you need more people, it is a good indication that your scope is too big.  😉  Gotta love control points!!
  3. Get those people in a room for a 1 to 1.5 hour session.  (Note – You can combine this session with the next session that I will talk about next week, making it a 4 hr session in total. Or, you can do a 2 day workshop and do all the steps I will describe.)
  4. During that session, describe that you are trying to understand their pain points, what they believe could be done faster/more effectively, etc… It is very important to be humble and welcoming of all and any ideas. Also, share how this work ties into the bigger picture of what you are or the company is trying to achieve.
  5. To collect the ideas, pass out sticky notes and have the attendees write one opportunity per sticky note.  This technique is call individual or silent brainstorming.  Give them as much time to complete as appropriate.
  6. Once everyone is completed, you stick the notes on the wall and start putting them into themes and naming those themes.  You will be amazed how clearly the opportunities start popping out before your eyes. 
  7. Now here is the fun part, you discuss those themes as a group, gaining a better understanding of the feedback.  You and/or your team should be in listening and “5 why” mode (asking why or clarifying questions).
  8. Lastly, and the hardest part, is co-creating the problem statement.  Taking the key words in the themes, you create one statement that gives focus to what you are trying to solve.  It should read something like, “Due to the lack of information when we are making decisions, we have to spend valuable time researching supply markets, identifying suppliers, and making gut decisions, thus delaying the process further, impacting new product introductions and our stakeholder relationships.”  Totally just made that up, but hopefully you get the point. 
  9. Keep that problem statement in the front of the room for all of the next sessions.  This is now your true north.  It should be used during the sessions to question if you are staying focused on solving the actual problem. 
Like I said before, hopefully, you will find that these are really simple techniques that do not require any investments other than your time.  The hardest part of the session is keeping it an open discussion, being objective, no defensiveness, and keeping people open to all feedback and ideas. If you do not believe that you can facilitate the meeting in an objective way, then maybe enlist a trusted colleague or a top performer to have the opportunity to facilitate.  Note:  I have had a lot of squirming in seats and even some emotional reactions from attendees that were just plain uncomfortable during the session.   If that happens, it is ok to take a break and regroup in a few minutes, as the intention is not to make people uncomfortable, but to get everything out on the table.
Good luck with step 1.  Would love to hear from you all once you hold this session and how it goes.  Would also love to get questions on the above if something is not clear.  Happy to help in any way I can.



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