1. Know the “Whys” before the “Hows”
A mentor of mine early in my digital career used to say, “Doug, remember: strategy before structure.” This is great advice. All too often, organizations make the mistake of embarking on a project because it is the latest rage of the digital industry. Social media, search marketing, mobile applications, website redesigns, and responsive design all come to mind.
Multiple times I’ve had employees say, “we need to redesign the website.” The first question I ask is “why?” Often the response is, “because we haven’t done it in two years.”
The right answer could be: 25% of our customers access our website via mobile device. We need to redesign it to be responsive and properly engage the consumer regardless of device.
Tactics are easy. Strategy is hard. Know your “whys” before you embark on the “hows.”
2. Leverage data to manage people
Establishing clear goals and timelines for project delivery is simple. But time and time again projects fall into chaos because of the inability to properly measure the people engaged in the project.
Data isn’t just about Gantt Charts and timelines. It’s also about people.
Leverage the data from multiple projects over time to figure out who is failing to deliver, and then leverage that same data to find out why and manage to those reasons.
Are they overloaded with other projects? Are they poor at estimating their time properly? Are they poor at multitasking? Have you staffed the project appropriately?
Answering some of these questions can help you better manage the most important resource of any digital project – people.
3. Be Agile
It never fails. An organization gets a game-changing digital strategy and sets out to accomplish it. The timeline is 18 months. Resources are allocated, people mobilized, and everyone charges ahead. 24 months later, a solution is delivered that turns out to be troubled.
The world changed. A lot can happen in two years. While everyone was busy building the solution, no one noticed the changing dynamics of the marketplace.
A core tenet of agile development is the ability to adapt to changing circumstances. Not just internal requirement changes, but also external circumstances.
Another mentor used to say, “don’t boil the ocean.” Deliver small, phased solutions quickly, while keeping the endgame in mind.
4. “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”
This Vincent Van Gogh quote, one of my favorites, has saved me many times from project management peril. I’ve personally witnessed consumers log in to the customer portal to obtain an explanation of benefits, find a doctor, or some other routine activity, only to have to phone into the call center with questions because the digital solution creates confusion. At $6 per call….
It is easy to add pages, links, and content to your digital asset. It’s much harder to add only items that truly matter and enhance the customer experience. Don’t let the website become a dumping ground for anything and everything.
Striving to simplify digital not only simplifies your project, it serves your customer, and it serves your business.
5. “Know your Outs”
Professional poker players always calculate the odds of a winning or losing hand before proceeding with any move. This is called “knowing your outs.”
The Affordable Care Act is the poster child of not knowing its outs. The retail exchanges were built and it’s now obvious – there wasn’t much of a backup plan.
From my banking years, I’ve witnessed over a billion dollars spent and ten years wasted on a project with no solution delivered. Oh and by the way, it ruined a few careers.
So – what is your digital project’s backup plan?