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Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Power the Pivot: Creating a Strategic Roadmap

By Camille Sharrow-Blaum — Strategy Lead

In today’s world of rapid digital transformation, it can be difficult to innovate quickly while maintaining strategic direction. In the first part of our series, we explored how to use research to better understand your consumer, define your business and customer goals, and uncover opportunities to improve the experience and solve business problems. In part two, we’ll dive into organizing and executing against the plethora of opportunities uncovered.

Thought: Power the Pivot: Creating a Strategic Roadmap
Power the Pivot: Creating a Strategic RoadmapStrategy Lead — Camille Sharrow-Blaum
Thought: Power the Pivot: Creating a Strategic Roadmap

The Power of Prioritization Frameworks

Once your opportunity areas have been identified, one of the best ways to organize them into an actionable plan is to use a prioritization framework. Opportunity areas can be broad (for example, “create a more streamlined experience”) or very specific (for example, “add a guest checkout option”), so it’s important to prioritize in a way that considers the complexities of each. A prioritization exercise will reveal which opportunities can move the needle most for your business, which are dependent on others, and which may require more discovery before you can execute. 

Prioritization frameworks are not simply putting features in order of execution. A framework provides a model for examining the impact an opportunity will have on various aspects of your business, weighed against the work required to implement. This helps take the guesswork and potential stakeholder biases out of the process to create a strategic plan that aligns with the business and available resources. 

Prioritization frameworks come in many shapes and sizes. Choosing a framework will depend on your business and customer goals, but today we’ll talk about two of the most common frameworks: a 2x2 matrix and a scoring rubric. 

2x2 Matrix

A 2x2 matrix is a simpler framework that works best when communicating the output of prioritizing visually. It operates on two axes that act as the key criteria dividing the area into four quadrants. This framework is most helpful when you have a smaller number of opportunities to prioritize and your criteria are simple. In the example below, we’re using ease of implementation and importance to users as our axes. 

Each opportunity would be reviewed and placed somewhere along the two axes depending on how they score for each facet. You can add numbers to the axes to make the scoring easier for plotting if you’d like. 

The opportunities will fall into one of the colored quadrants: 

  • Green quadrant - low difficulty of implementation, high importance to users. This is typically considered low-hanging fruit and would be the first items to tackle. 

  • Red quadrant - high difficulty of implementation, low importance to users. This quadrant consists of opportunities to potentially deprioritize or to not move forward with. According to this exercise, these may not be worth the effort. 

  • Blue quadrants - low difficulty of implementation, low importance to users or high difficulty of implementation, high importance to users. These two quadrants are what will make up the meat of a roadmap and will require additional work to prioritize individually. Consider a second 2x2 with a different set of criteria, like volume of resources required and prep work required before implementation. 

Scoring Matrix or Rubric Model

While a 2x2 is helpful in many scenarios, this may be too simple if your business problem is more complex and larger in scope. The second framework we’ll review today is a scoring matrix or scoring rubric. This model is useful for more complex scenarios and can take more variables into consideration to score against. In fact, in this model, there is no limit to the number of variables to score against. 

  • Scores are given to each opportunity to create an aggregate score for each to use for prioritizing. Weights can also be assigned to each of these in order to accurately reflect the priorities or focus areas of the business. Most commonly, we score opportunities against three primary areas: 

  • Impact - which areas of our business will be impacted by this? (business impact, technical impact, organizational impact, etc.)

  • Validation - where did we hear this opportunity? (stakeholders, market/competitive assessment, end users, etc.)

  • KPIs - which of our primary business KPIs or goals does this opportunity contribute to? (drive revenue, drive loyalty, etc.)

Scoring is a complex activity; our preference is to always to make it a collaborative one. Representation from many parts of the organization will allow you to appropriately gauge efforts, impacts, and any dependencies. Once this activity is complete, each opportunity will have a score that will help determine the priority. 

Creating Your Roadmap

Once you’ve scored your opportunities using either one of the above methods or another model, the task of assembling a roadmap can begin. This process will define not only the order in which opportunities are tackled, but also aligns resources, identifies dependencies and creates excitement about future releases or phases. 

It’s important to remember that roadmaps should be treated as living, breathing plans that should be continuously reviewed and re-prioritized. As consumers’ expectations, business environments and technology change constantly, a regular review cadence of your roadmap will allow you to ensure you are implementing the right solutions at the right time. 

That there may also be Always-On workstreams as well - things like analytics review, voice of customer program reporting and on-site optimization, and managed services may sit in this workstream. These are workstreams that will continue no matter what part of the roadmap execution is the current focus.

Customer Spotlight

If you recall from part one, we shared a story where we partnered with a specialty retailer who was looking to improve their customer experience across brands and devices. In the changing retail and digital environment, they were looking for a way to meet customers’ rising expectations and differentiate themselves. 

Using a mix of qualitative and quantitative research methods, we uncovered 46 unique opportunities. These opportunities were prioritized using the scoring rubric framework. The primary scoring criteria for this scenario were: Business Value, Experience Value and Internal Dependencies. 

Business value focused on alignment to key goals like increasing conversion, increasing loyalty program sign-ups, and cross-category shopping increases. Experience value aimed to prioritize opportunities that improved the experience for consumers. Internal dependencies highlighted any considerations for technology, content and people/process.

Upon scoring, the opportunities were divided into three groups: near term (within the next quarter), mid-term (within the next year), and long term (within the next two years). It’s important to note here that the grouping of these doesn’t necessarily mean that the long-term opportunities weren’t worked on for two years, it means that the completion or implementation of that opportunity was completed in that window. 

Now, our client has a two-year roadmap for improving their customer experience that focuses on smaller attainable chunks of work at a time, while maintaining the strategic vision of their overall roadmap. This roadmap is also reviewed and adjusted regularly to keep up with ever-changing consumer expectations and internal complexities. 

We’re Here to Help

This two-part series is intended to be an introduction to just a few of the strategies for accelerating innovation. There are many ways to frame and shape your business problems and opportunities for solving, and Rightpoint is here to help. Check out our Experience Economy series for more information about what it means to be an experience-led company or contact us to learn more about how we partner with clients to answer complex business problems.