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The Tool is Just the Beginning: Solving People, Process, and Governance Challenges Before they Start

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Will a new tool solve your problem? Probably not. Twenty years of experience have shown us that, while technology has the potential to solve challenges, the most critical components to success come down to people, process, and governance. If you’re not considering these alongside the tool itself, you are setting yourself up for a new set of problems. If you’re investigating a new addition to your stack, replacing a deprecating one (RIP Google Optimize and Maxymiser), or rethinking some old decisions – keep reading.

We help organizations become agile and insight-driven so they can keep pace with ever-changing customer expectations and adapt to any situation. Our approach involves the right people doing the right things at the right time, a process built for agility that is rooted in curiosity, alignment in department KPIs, and properly utilized technology and systems. As you can see, the tool selection is the beginning of a longer journey. Addressing the tooling in isolation will simply replace one set of challenges with another.

The decision to invest in a tool can be expensive and the contract process is often cumbersome, and we want to help you do it right. We’ve identified some key learnings that can set you up for success no matter where you are in your technology journey.

People

Successful tool adoption and usage in your organization are dependent on the skillset and willingness of the people using them. You’ve been operating in one way for a reason, and introducing this new variable is bound to come with a few hiccups. Here’s how to get ahead of them:

  • You need a team of curious problem-solvers. When something is in conflict with current operations (and it will be), you need people willing to create and execute a solution as quickly as possible. They need to be curious and nimble, allowing them to embrace the new direction and make it successful as quickly as possible. They need to be comfortable failing forward and failing fast.
  • Your team needs to have the right skillset to leverage all aspects of the tool. Regardless of the type of tool, having a team that understands how to use it and knows why it functions that way will allow your team to use it most effectively. This varies depending on the type of tool, which is a topic worthy of a separate article.
  • It may be tempting to utilize hours from a tool partner to fill some of these gaps. And that’s often what they’re hoping for, even providing financial incentives to do so. Beware that this may result in stalled progress if your contract isn’t scoped to fit your needs (you may hear “you don’t have hours for that,” “that’s handled by a different team,” “you didn’t select that option”). And perhaps more importantly, product companies’ expertise lies in just that – their product. The nuances and additional considerations along this journey require different expertise and perspective.

We have developed a framework called Keystone™ that defines the roles and characteristics of the most highly performing teams. We use this framework to help our clients ensure they have the right team composition to allow them to grow and scale successfully. We believe organizations should own their programs, so our efforts are directed at helping teams build their capabilities internally.

Process

Having a well-defined process ensures that you have the right people doing the right things at the right time. Without this in place, you’re at risk of bespoke processes killing your efficiency, causing confusion, and ultimately undermining their own efforts. Of course, this isn’t intentional, but we’ve seen it time and time again. Here’s how you can save yourself these growing pains:

  • Teams need a well-defined process that they can look to for guidance. It defines the rules of the game and eliminates ambiguity. It removes emotion and opinions, allowing teams to focus on ensuring consistent, quality work and finding opportunities to optimize the process over time.
  • This well-defined process is not “set it and forget it.” It’s critical that your process is built with agility in mind. Customer needs change, business expectations change, technology changes and you need a framework that can weather those storms and evolve to meet current needs. We view process documents as living artifacts that should be maintained and updated regularly.

These recommendations come from decades of experience. A consistent baseline for execution is critical, updates are a must, and your team should be empowered to own this process to meet business objectives.

Governance

If you’ve got a tool, a team of curious problem solvers, and a defined process to grease the wheels, you should be good to go, right? Not quite. Without disciplined governance, all of that forward momentum will inevitably stall.

  • KPIs across the organization myst align so that teams are rowing in the same direction. If this sounds utopian, begin with your own team. Ensure that everyones’ metrics are complementary and designed to achieve the goals of the business.
  • Develop a regular cadence of team check-ins to ensure they’re focused on the things that matter and that they are sticking to the agreed-upon rules of engagement. And from there, ensure you are building points of connection with other teams to help expand the reach and latitude of your work.

“If you take care of the small things, the big things take care of themselves.” By developing a regular cadence of oversight, making the right connections across the organization, and ensuring that teams don’t get distracted in the day-to-day grind – you’ll ensure you build a ship ready for the waves, that won’t suffer from neglect, or unintentionally veer off course.

In Summary

A shiny, new tool is just the beginning. Successful digital transformation is achieved when tools, people, process, and governance empower each other. We’ve provided you with some of the most common pitfalls along with how to avoid them. We also know that every organization is different and there are nuances that should be considered when building your action plan. If you need expert help, contact us. We build insight-driven organizations and can definitely help yours.

Originally published on LinkedIn

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