In any digital project, detailed scoping is an essential first step. Success must be defined and agreed, effectively communicated among stakeholders, and adopted across the business, with roles, responsibilities and deliverables all clearly defined – and resourced. Indeed, failure to scope is one of the main reasons more than 80% of digital transformation projects fail.
In the beginning
The beginning of any digital project is a critical time because that’s when the preparation and planning takes place that will help to ensure the project team remains focused on the finish line for the duration of the project, avoiding costly mistakes. Being clear about the purpose and having the end vision clearly defined also helps to avoid ‘scope creep’ – when a project grows arms and legs, spidering off in different directions.
If you’re working with a digital partner, detailed preparation and planning conversations will help to ensure you get to the right solution quickly, saving time and money. It’s amazing how many digital projects begin without sufficient clarity about the outcome, the target end-user, and the resources that will be needed, which can lead to ideas not being properly considered – and digital project failure.
Your detailed scoping checklist
Digital estate: Carry out a comprehensive review of your digital estate, including websites, apps and systems, and gather the analytics. This is especially important if you’re working with a digital partner. At Vidatec, we’ll often ask our clients for access to things like Google/Firebase Analytics because this allows us to analyse the digital estate and gather performance metrics.
Stakeholder mapping: Spend time mapping and prioritising the different stakeholders and audiences. What stakeholders are involved? What information will they need, and when? What’s the decision-making process? From a commercial and a product perspective, ensure you understand who’s at the top of the ‘value chain’ and who’ll benefit most from the product or service.
A good digital partner will go beyond User Experience (UX) and co-create a commercial product with you. If you’re developing in-house rather than with an agency, make sure you bring in your sales, marketing and operations/finance teams to fully consider the commercial side.
Competitor analysis: Don’t forget to properly analyse the marketplace and understand your competitors. Who are they? What are they doing? What are their future capabilities? It’s common to want an app or website if everyone else in the industry has one – but it’s important to remember that technology is fast-moving and ever-changing, and a great idea today could be redundant tomorrow.
Rather than seeking parity with your competitors, look at adjacent sectors for inspiration. Blue-sky thinking and future-gazing could help you leapfrog – even stay ahead of – your competitors.
Complexity and risk: It’s easy to overlook the risks when beginning a digital project. But if you can identify these at the outset, you can plan for – and mitigate against – a ‘worst case’ scenario. For example, if you’re looking at a third-party API integration, how secure is it? What could happen if it the API isn’t accessible or has latency issues out of your control? How would the end-user be impacted?
As a digital partner we always ensure our clients know the different dependencies and potential blockers. If there are known unknowns, we’ll call them out, investigate them thoroughly and identify solutions, contingencies or workarounds that will ensure an exceptional end-user experience.
Resourcing is important, not only the digital project itself – but key roles within. It’s essential to have a calm, concise, problem-solving project manager who can seamlessly manage the scoping and resourcing phase. They must understand tech and be clear on the problem the digital project is seeking to resolve. They will be a strong communicator who can build and maintain positive relationships. They are the lynchpin bringing together the various elements of the digital project through to its successful conclusion.
A final word
When undertaking any digital project, ensure sufficient time is taken to discuss and agree the project purpose and end goal at the outset. This time spent upfront, carrying out detailed scoping, will help you ensure you understand your ‘why’, that you’re targeting the right end-user, and that you have the right team in place – leveraging all resources to best effect until the conclusion of the project. That’s how you ensure digital project success.
By Greig Johnston, CEO of Vidatec