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Planning Your Digital Workplace Roadmap? Start By Defining Your Business Needs


When you’re developing your digital workplace roadmap, the essential first step is to define your business challenges and the needs of your users and stakeholders. But many organizations find this step surprisingly difficult, because they struggle to articulate these challenges and needs in meaningful, specific terms.

For example, if you asked a department head to name the delivery team’s current challenges, that person might say something like, “Lack of collaboration.” But that’s not specific enough to begin solving the problem.

Instead, you need to state the problem in concrete terms, such as, “Our people aren’t able to communicate effectively, and that affects their responsiveness. As a result, it’s taking two weeks to turn around a deliverable when it should only take one week.”

The other challenge is to prioritize these needs and business challenges. When you have limited resources to invest, you need some effective means of narrowing down the list of problems to solve.

Tools For Identifying Digital Workplace Needs

The best way to overcome these obstacles and identify needs is through holding workshops focused on defining business challenges and opportunities. Essentially, you bring together your stakeholders and team members in a room with plenty of sticky notes and spend two to three hours generating a list of issues.

This approach is sometimes called “affinity mapping” or “affinity diagramming.” Affinity diagramming, according to Usability.net, is “a simple and cost-effective technique for soliciting ideas from a group and obtaining consensus on how information should be structured.”

This approach starts with capturing specific issues using sticky notes, then putting them up on the white board and organizing them in a way that makes sense for the group. This moderated discussion helps the group understand the potential impact and risk cost of addressing each need.

Some of the business goals that a professional services firm wants to achieve through the digital workplace might include:

  • Driving innovation
  • Improving productivity
  • Supporting partners
  • Improving the customer experience

Getting Started

Once you’ve identified your needs, it’s time to prioritize them. The first level of prioritization is drawn from the team’s own opinions. What does the team see as most important?

Next, go beyond opinions by applying some criteria. In other words, if you decide to focus on solving a productivity problem, how much is it going to cost and what level of impact should you anticipate? Applying criteria forces the team to start prioritizing needs and making tradeoffs, providing a solid foundation for additional steps in the roadmap process.

Learn more about today’s digital workplace capabilities by downloading our free e-book, Your Roadmap To The Digital Workplace: A Step-By-Step Guide For Professional Services Firms. 



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I read a lot of finance publications. Those for professionals provide pretty sophisticated analyses while those for the general public have short articles with single points that are easy to absorb. The July 2019 issue of Kiplinger's Personal Finance is a gem and I wanted to share some of that issue with you.

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