Top Three Things to Have in a Digital Roadmap (and Three Things to Not Include)

Digital Roadmap: What is it, what do I need, and what don't I need?

As any marketer or IT leader knows, it is dangerous to enter the world of enterprise technology--like Sitecore--without a well-thought out plan. It's also nearly impossible to fit everything you want or need into your first migration or major release. Enter: the digital roadmap! Think of it as the blueprint for how you're going evolve your platform to help achieve your business and marketing goals. Sounds great, in theory, but effectively developing and executing on one is often harder than we think. So here are 3 things that you want to be sure to consider when preparing your digital roadmap, and 3 things you shouldn't.

Clear definition of your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs):

One of the most integral parts of any research or customer experience (CX) engagement is articulating your goals and how you'll measure them. You certainly don't have to convince a marketer that personalization is a good idea, but what metric are you looking to move with it? These KPIs should follow the SMART goals model: specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-based. This has to be the foundation of any digital roadmap. 

Assigned team responsible for the execution of the initiatives outlined on the roadmap:

Every marketer or IT leader has too many "top" priorities to focus on these days, and often times the fire drills win out over future progress. As part of your roadmap, you need to assign an owner (role) to each major initiative, especially if your organization does not have a dedicated product owner for your platform. This can help ensure that someone is specifically responsible for gathering the resources and executing on the goal. Without this, we typically find ourselves dusting off the same roadmap each year (or worse, every few years!).

Defined (major) dependencies for each major phase or initiative:

Whether it's aligning your budgeting cycle, working around key events, or hiring contingencies, it's important to note where you have risks / dependencies within your roadmap so that they can be planned for and addressed prior to when you're looking to execute a given project. Nothing worse than getting ready to go, but having false starts that lead to distractions or de-prioritizing an initiative all together. When you're building out your roadmap, consider the people, processes and technology you need to support and document them with action plans to completes.

And now what you DON'T want to include: 

A roadmap is not a project plan

The roadmap should be the large initiatives and goals you have, it's not every individual step. This often becomes a paralyzing level of detail and becomes too difficult to manage or keep up to date. Stick to the big buckets and then break out the individual steps and resourcing decisions in

Rigid / Fragile decisions

Roadmaps should be aligned to your broader business strategy and not singularly focused on a sole platform (Anyone having to redo their Sitecore XP-based roadmap now for composable?), because platforms change and release cycles vary. The roadmap is a strategic document, not a tactical checklist or backlog. Think "Deploy personalization to help increase customer retention by 15%" more than "Configure profile keys and patterns cards and write personalization rules" (which of course is now a bit dated).

Use roles more than individual names

To my point above, it's important to have owners assigned to each major priority, but teams can change, so important to assign roles rather than individuals. You don't know want your roadmap to fall apart because someone got that big promotion!

Roadmaps are key strategic documents for your MarComm and IT teams and should be reviewed often for progress. They are the antidote for the common plague companies face where the "MVP" version just becomes your steady state. Rely on your partners to help provide outside perspective and marry it with your team's product and business expertise. Combined teams and breaking down silos are key to actionable roadmaps. 

Not sure where to start? Give us a call!

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Meghan Fishburn

SVP, Client Strategy

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