Delivering digital innovation in a large enterprise can be complex, costly and time consuming.
Your success can depend on any number of factors: securing funding from the business, working effectively with internal departments, delivering a digital product or service which engages users...to name but three.
In truth, most companies are crammed full of failed projects. They are elephants, standing in the corner of your boardroom, reminding senior stakeholders that millions of pounds of investment and years of time failed to deliver, again.
84% of companies fail at digital
Yet, for those committed to driving change, there is a clear path to follow.
1. Launch something.
You must focus on launching your product, above all else.
This is not glib advice. The priority of a project is normally to deliver a product of x features. This feature list forms the backbone of supplier briefings and procurement decisions. Success is determined by the ability to deliver to brief.
A better success metric for 2020 is to deliver... anything. The overriding goal must be to launch (fast, see below), and features should be scaled to meet this ambition, not the other way around.
2. Show the business you can deliver.
Your goal is simple in the first instance - show the business you can deliver.
Businesses want results – they want to invest and see returns. Your programme is one of many, and what is most compelling is your ability to show ROI. Board members and shareholders want to know that their investment isn't going to end up on a wall of failure like so many others.
Whilst your end users and customers are important, your endeavour is fundamentally about delivering results for your organisation: the clearest way to do this is to deliver something tangible, something that actually moves your business closer to growth & profit, or further from cost & inefficiency.
3. Beware the 'prototype' or 'proof of concept'.
Describe your project as Minimum Viable Product (MVP).
As an aside – avoid use of terms like “prototype” of “proof of concept” as your final outputs. Today these terms align with testing hypotheses (great!) without delivering tangible results (bad). These types of output may be critical parts of your journey to delivering your MVP, but they cannot be the final outcome.
4. Launch fast.
If you can't launch in 3-6 months, change your approach.
A focus on fast delivery will force you to cut back on project ambition. Strip back on requirements. Remember, success is to prove to the business you can launch something. When it feels you're at the smallest set of requirements, cut back again.
Your launch product is the first iteration in an ongoing evolution. By successfully launching with MVP v1.0 you will unlock the budgets to drive the next phases or release forwards. ROI is the gold dust that feeds enterprise projects.
Traditional enterprise projects can take 18+ months to build and longer still to roll out. Aim for a delivery timescale in weeks, not months. This will force you to focus on what the most truly valuable aspects are.
Ask yourself – "what is the minimum we need to launch to prove progress against our aims."
5. Cut away your blockers.
Find the path of least resistance
You will not be operating in isolation. Successful programme executives create a map of internal/external requirements and highlight blockers which prevent a 'launch, fast' mindset.
For example, if there is an issue around data quality, security, or integration, define your success outside of these blockers. If integrating with your internal CRM will take 6-12 months, launch without it.
Once launched, the balance of power will shift. Your success in delivering will shift the impetus of blockers to need to support you - instead of you asking for their support, make the business demand it.
6. Customer centric thinking, within reason.
Involve your customers or end users, but don't boil the ocean.
Design thinking is incredibly valuable, but in an enterprise context or for internal tools, it is better to hypothesise a best guess rather than let the market tell you what is needed.
Involve customers to map requirements, and to validate success / failure. But always frame this against your primary goal of launching your MVP in a short time frame.
What it all means for you and your business
Large sums of money are thrown at large projects which go years over budget and fail to materialise. So remember don’t aim to build the greatest product (be patient, that will come), aim to prove to your business that it is possible to deliver innovative and valuable digital projects.
Once you have proven it is possible, people will take notice. You will unlock more funding, and expand the feature set of your product. As you grow you will have built partners to drive internal collaboration. And you will iteratively develop towards an engaging and consumer grade digital product.