At Quark we are driven to excellence and inspired by our enterprise clients who are truly achieving digital transformation through content automation. In this three-part blog series I aim to run through the elements of a successful enterprise software implementation, offer advice for delivering your strategic vision to stakeholders, and highlight proven steps for making your vision a reality. Read part one, which focuses on the two main elements of a successful enterprise software implementation. In part 2, I offer my thoughts on the best ways to get buy-in across your organization.
Living strategic plan
In addition to people, an enterprise implementation requires a structured plan. A plan must focus on the strategic outcomes in support of organizational goals. Let’s spend some time defining what a good strategic plan should look like.
Keep it brief
Your stakeholders are busy. Your plan should be approachable and crisp. Avoid an overwhelming spreadsheet with hundreds of rows, a 300-slide PowerPoint deck, or a 1000-page PDF document.
Make it visual
A good strategic plan is a visual summary which distills the essential ingredients that matter most to your entire organization. A strategic plan must relate to multiple business units, geographies, and other stakeholder groups. Capability maturity models are a common approach to help everyone understand the multiple phases of an enterprise project, with each phase delivering prioritized business benefits. A known model helps connect the project goals to the business so that everyone can see how their pet issues fit with the overall solution vision. You might also try a user story map.
Talk to your stakeholders
No plan would be complete without accounting for ongoing governance and communication. Engagement is a journey, not a one-time rest stop. A common best practice is to establish a review committee responsible for steering the project with help from high-level business leaders and representatives from stakeholder groups. Periodic meetings will ensure key decisions are made, executed, and escalated to help ensure enterprise success.
Marketplace disruption is likely already impacting your current business model. Reason dictates that every business must adapt to survive, especially with the frequency of disruption on an acceleration curve. Therefore, encourage your stakeholders to courageously review any process or method which is likely to impede progress. Even large, bureaucratic regulatory authorities are open to change and looking for ways to simplify, streamline, and modernize. Your organization should be able to do the same.
This may include decisions on whether or not a Quark solution should be extended with outside help or managed by an internal team. There are also decisions related to system integrations by API, configurations, and to what extent the solution must rely on custom code. The Review Committee may help prioritize elements of the project in relation to business value and the strategic plan. Many Quark customers use business analyst teams to help ensure all stakeholders have a voice in setting priorities. User research against business metrics helps find areas to optimize and improve. All of these tactics help align the business-critical work in a manner that is sustainable and connected to the organizational mission reflected in the strategic plan.
Keep it fresh
A good plan will also identify targets for expansion and continuously see updates to ensure it is relevant. This is largely why you want to avoid a massive artifact—at least at the strategic level—because the larger the plan the less likely it is to be maintained. An outdated plan can be inaccurate and present a stale impression for the project, even if it is actively receiving attention from a broad stakeholder group.
Every solution evolves as the technology is implemented. To keep up with the accelerating pace of disruption, organizations are leveraging the Agile approach to “embrace change” and increasingly requiring faster pivots to leverage new advantages or revolutionary approaches. John Seely Brown calls for organizations to act like a kayaker on whitewater. A new perspective around change is required which is both playfully imaginative and open to change, but always mindful of the end goal. This requires an inner self-awareness which, in contrast to the changing environment, is best described using the language of Tai Chi masters: “stillness is the master of unrest.”
At Quark, you can better pivot for success by actively monitoring new product releases, contributing to the online community, participating in beta programs, and maintaining annual maintenance subscriptions. This gives enterprise customers a chance to play with updated products and better plan for successful rollouts to production systems already in use. You will also have a chance to understand the impact on stakeholders so that any changes can be proactively and effectively managed.
Participating in the Quark community is a low-cost, high-value proposition. Whatever your change management strategy, understanding the value we consistently provide enterprise customers will help ensure return on your investment for years to come.
Continue on to Part 3 of this blog series.
About the Author
Jason Aiken manages Quark’s platform for content automation, a platform that streamlines the entire lifecycle of high-value content — from creation to delivery. He coordinates with strategic partners and product engineering to help clients across financial services, manufacturing, life sciences and government reinvent and modernize their content strategies. With two decades of experience in technical publishing and content management, including products and services for aerospace and biomedical devices, Jason consistently advocates for technical solutions which improve user experience and simplify business process. Jason has a MS in IT System Design & Programming from Capella University.