It’s late summer, and for every retailer—and most parents—that means back-to-school is in full motion. Some will see their child take their first bus ride to kindergarten, while others have probably already helped their older teenagers shop, pack, and travel for their first year away from home at college. Either way, these activities involve a tremendous amount of planning and preparation. For older kids going away to college, this typically involves a well-organized means of how to get to their ultimate destination, as well as maps of their dorm, campus layout, and class schedule.
A lot of Parker Avery’s work for our clients starts with or is initiated by the definition of a roadmap. It may be an early deliverable in a larger business transformation project or the outcome of a rapid diagnostic phase. A roadmap often involves a combination of business process design work, organizational/role definition activities, IT development, and/or selection of new technology. The roadmap essentially outlines the initiatives, dependencies, sequencing, investment, resources, etc. required to ultimately deliver meaningful value in achieving a company’s strategic business objectives.
However, often we see companies who have to shift project priorities because they are not collectively thinking ‘big picture’ and really don’t have a comprehensive plan from which to work. Despite the media attention and executive focus on omnichannel, seamless customer experiences, inventory transparency, globalization, and unified commerce, we still see many retailers not thinking cross-functionally but continuing to operate in silos. Essentially, despite cloud and other innovative technologies that enable much better standardization, collaboration, analytical capabilities, and the panacea of ‘one version of the truth’ (with respect to data), too many brands are still winging it. Being reactive—or simply hopeful.
There’s a cliché that says, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” While many retailers may have a solid grasp on their future business objectives (where they want to go), it is paramount to also have a well-defined and realistic approach to achieving these goals (or how to get there). Easier said than done, for many.
The strategy or objectives may define revenue growth, comp-store sales increases, margin increases, or inventory effectiveness in relatively nebulous terms. However, the roadmap clarifies the what, when, and how for key improvements to support the strategy, and confirms that the strategy is realistic. Perhaps there are no critical improvements required beyond “buy prettier product,” but that’s not likely.
A key tenet of a roadmap and the expected benefits is that business value does not appear magically as soon as a new capability is deployed. While we often define a set of ‘quick wins’—or short-term activities in the roadmap that will deliver results within the first 3 to 4 months—value realization takes time; it also takes focused attention on training, learning, and data cleansing, as well as making tweaks to existing systems or processes. Further, engaging the impacted organizations from the very beginning with thorough and honest communications and executing a tailored change management plan is key to not only reaching the target but ensuring adoption and achieving meaningful results. This involves defining and then sharing a common vision throughout the company and enabling the team to not just come along for the ride but even help navigate the course at times.
As we wind down the summer and prepare for back to school, the beauty of autumn, and the ensuing holiday season, we wish you the best along the different roads you will take. If you want to talk about how to develop a roadmap for your company or perhaps alter your existing route, please don’t hesitate to contact us.