In our post of how to succeed with digital planning, we stressed the importance of unleashing the power of digital design to enable the discipline to work with long-term strategic actions without being detailed of how to implement activities while in planning mode. This also covers the fundamentals for delivering a successful transformation to make your company digital.
It is also in this post we referenced the ubiquitous purpose of planning is not to complete, but to become aware and prepare. For most organisations the corporate agility is more important than speed in the “long run”, even though they both are desirable properties, and speed often wins in the “shorter run”. So in the short run there is the perpetual focus on delivering more of the ‘same’ where in the long run, it may be a different service or offering that will provide the best solution to the market. So planning has a value in understanding and testing as opposed to project portfolio management and operations where focus is on completing. As to recall the famous quote from Dwight D. Eisenhower;
“In preparing for battle, I always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable”.
– Dwight D. Eisenhower
The management focus on “planning” rather than “plans” call for corporate consensus to what is important, and what if scenarios can swiftly be implemented without running a new project. This is also where agility works best with a digital governance that can quickly help management to understand the implications as they decide to move into a new course. Unfortunately, we often talk to people who believe that strategy is “just” a set of plans that “just” need to be implemented. While nothing will ever work if not implemented, the challenge with strategy is often that the competitors, the market, sales, and the technology innovations change the premises so fast that to succeed the projects you need to change scope to meet a new impact and outcome.It somehow calls for three fundamentals at the same time
- shorter development cycles and agile methodologies to implement this
- more focus on digital design and business architecture to faster understand the impact of changes – making architecture a living discipline
- more digital planning, as to message differently and more swiftly what is new course of action.
To succeed it requires onboarding of a large number of employees of your company, not a department, but often more a business unit or the entire company. This is not solved by projects, tools or departments in isolation; this is best solved by having a clear responsibility structure to work with changes, and to know who will take of whatever impact. This we make alive in a digital portal to collaboration and drive common decision-support. Sustaining the momentum of the transformation is critical to the company’s success. To deal with this problem, sustaining interventions by governance decisions will become essential to help you keep track of the direction of your common aim. Digital transformation should be a coordinated response by a broad set of stakeholders – also at board level.
What is Digital Planning as opposed to digital governance?
We see Digital Governance in our solutions as something that is both ‘digital’ and ‘governance’. Governance as in “Who does what approved by whom” and Digital meaning not in word, and not in Excel, but as clickable meta-data shared for everyone within an organisation”. In other words, decisions should be made digital, not by emails and attachments. The organization will strive to become transparent and re-using data towards a common vision.
We see “Digital Planning” as the next level of planning to make long-term strategic digital actions without being detailed of how to implement activities.
Focus is on value-creation and corporate agility to become aware and be prepared.
The objective of planning is to make the right set of reductions, rejections, acquisitions and investments. This has the entire focus on maximising the business value, not on delivering on-time, which is a set of derived set of activities. We advocate to implement Digital Governance and Digital Planning in every solution we build to move faster as a company and to speed up the corporate agility – be aware these two things are no the same, but both are desirable features. To establish the right digital governance is critical since it acts as the rudder to steer your digital initiatives in the right direction and pace. If you spend too much time on implementing the wrong set of initiatives you may end up in the hamster wheel, whereas if with focus on planning, digital planning, the solution teams are aligned, the agile release trains are aligned, and top executives can manage resources and direction rather than to obtain useless figures of backlogs. See also the post of getting value from business planning with agile development.
What role does Digital Planning play in digital transformation?
We refer to another post for digital transformation. And make a process around the digital transformation, we often advocate a classic stage gate approach where
- an Initiative Phase secures the planning piece of what initiatives do we have, either as ideas, proposed ones, and very likely ones. Based on hard prioritisation metrics, some of these are selected for the next phase:
- a Project Performance Phase that implements the projects, but all the time with an eye for the value delivery, the risk of not completing, the risk of we exit, and the ability implement on time and budget, which will then typically lead to:
- a Solutions Management Phase where services and applications build as solutions are maintained and innovated to continue to deliver value to the business.
It is pivotal that this stage gate approach can be managed digitally, with digital ownership, and with the ability quickly to support new what-if decisions. With a strong governance in the meaning of no bureaucracy and digital input, you can much faster foster informed strategic decisions that are based on solid architectural insights.
Our approach to digital governance follows three guidelines:
- Establish a lean set of approval flows and business rules.
- Encourage digital interaction and abandon emails, attachments and SharePoint.
- Foster and moderate innovation by open participation, ideally by having everyone being able to share and contribute to the portal.
We help to align long-term planning with short-term planning, which is an ongoing process – and a digital process of information management. Long-live the digital planning. If you have questions, please make contact. We are a consulting house with senior profiles and business solutions; we provide deep expertise in digital planning, digital governance and process automation. We power your digital mood!