In my role at Quark I work closely with clients to ensure the successful rollout of software implementations of varying scale and complexity. Here in the final blog of my three-part series on Quark customer success, I want to share the best lessons I’ve learned about nurturing a strategic vision. Be sure to read part 1 and part 2 of this series for more!
Bringing a bold vision to reality isn’t easy. Conversations are required in order to connect a range of stakeholders to organizational and project goals. Stakeholders often know their problem inside and out, but not all of them can connect that problem description to actionable requirements. Stakeholders representing multiple business units contribute useful knowledge which can help clarify and validate a range of details. Business analysts should facilitate focused discussions to help define and prioritize business challenges to help ensure better outcomes, manage stakeholder expectations, and make the vision real.
When solutions include easy-to-use interfaces and modern tooling, then anyone—even visionary business leaders—can use, understand, and demonstrate the vision as it takes shape. Easy-to-use solutions include web-based dashboards and role-specific applications which support everyday business users’ needs. Something happens when extremely busy executives and everyday knowledge workers can understand mission-critical systems and rapidly discover the value: business users become engaged change agents.
This makes the change welcome and fun. Approaching this magical sweet spot elevates the standing and reputation of the visionary leaders who initiated the enterprise system. Suddenly, everyone wants to be involved and the ROI blasts off.
That sounds great and all, but how to make it happen?
Align as one team
Define the metrics which help bring the vision alive for your business. Measure failures and successes. Learn and iterate in order to improve. Make sure the message goes beyond numbers alone to foster greater teamwork and engagement. Tell your story.
Good people must receive periodic training to stay current. Training sessions must be recorded for reference and to support conflicting global schedules. Every major organization has annual employee development plans and it’s worth collaborating with Human Resources to link incentives to business-critical enterprise projects. Your digital transformation depends on having the correct roadmap clearly spelled-out for employees if they are expected to participate in this glorious journey into the future. Just like the strategic plan, the training program must be kept up to date and relevant.
Build a broad skillset
A maverick business leader needs more than people skills. They need business management skills, sales skills, and some awareness of IT best practices. Sales, because business champions must market and sell project capabilities to many people throughout an organization. Business or project management skills, because developing and maintaining a major project involves many moving parts. IT best practices, because proven and emerging trends can impact costs or lead to new savings in dollars or time. It’s important to either directly acquire some of these skills or build a team with people who have them. And the learning never stops.
Get some help
Managing any major enterprise system involves a great deal of artifacts, including service level agreements, architecture designs, key enterprise integrations, performance, security, project management, etc. Therefore, look to the experts you already have to help. These may be inside your organization or trusted third parties, like Quark Professional Services or Quark partners.
Implementing and maintaining an effective enterprise solution often requires assistance. Staff augmentation or reassigning in-house staff to an enterprise team will help you create a center of excellence. Obtaining help from experienced professionals will increase your likelihood of success, accelerate the speed to value, and minimize overall risk to the first phase and every subsequent iteration.
Finally, encourage creative input from your inspired user community. With the prolific use and adoption of many apps on personal devices like smart phones and tablets, your end users bring expectations and valuable insight. They are driven by a multitude of buzzworthy, modern, digital experiences. Actively listening to this valuable base can merge unrelated concepts into new business value, leading to further competitive advantage if the new idea supports the vision. To channel this behavior and the wisdom of the crowd, you need a process which embraces input and demonstrates action.
Encouraging innovative feedback can be a cornerstone for lasting success. Build a proactive approach to set expectations, encourage business feedback, and deliver iterative changes to support these expectations. With everyone having an opinion and wanting to see their idea executed immediately, managing multiple stakeholder groups will have its challenges. You know your business applications can no longer appear like or only work on a desktop. Plus, your end users expect multiple layers of control and highly intuitive user experiences—on every device. Therefore, your front-end needs to operate effectively on any device, be task-oriented, appear highly intuitive, and support offline situations while end users are in transit.
Quark technology already supports these expectations, with more coming in every release. Our focus has always been to provide robust, modern, easy-to-use experiences that engage non-technical users. We deliver quality experiences in our products, adopt standards-based approaches, and provide configuration options by user interfaces. We also understand the importance of giving every enterprise customer a set of alternatives to drive down the total cost of ownership. No system operates in isolation, so we provide a robust API to enable interoperability and extensibility for additional, automated use cases.
We also partner with our customers to ensure they can provide a unique, sophisticated experience for stakeholders responsible for the entire content life cycle. We have the opportunity to do all this and more for world-class global enterprise organizations with some of the most demanding, highly-secure, performant, stable, and highly-regulated systems. We also use our products ourselves, because managed workflow and version control for content components help us drive efficiencies, too!
We’re here to help
Quark encourages our customers to leverage our many resources:
- We have a premier enterprise support team who make customer responsiveness their top priority daily and maintain a knowledge base
- We maintain a set of thorough documentation on our public Web site, which provide best practices for installing, using, and configuring Quark software
- We encourage enterprise customers and partners to participate and subscribe to our social media channels, including LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and public enterprise forums
- We maintain a series of informative blog posts
- We consistently receive honorable mention in a series of analyst articles and industry lists
- We host webinars and speaking engagements
- We speak at various industry events and trade shows
Our future is very bright. Looking ahead, we have all kinds of campaigns and events planned well into the future, including Quark strategic forums for key enterprise leaders and even Quark-hosted user-centric events. Stay tuned.
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.