Ready for Anything: How Strategic Roadmaps Provide a Critical Advantage

Ed Wegryn, Director, Professional Services, Kronos

Ed Wegryn, Director, Professional Services, Kronos

Deploying a workforce solution is a significant investment. Successful projects not only demonstrate an ability to solve a critical business issue or move the organization’s objectives forward, but they also generate a return on investment (ROI) that offsets the initial capital expenditure. For many organizations, though, implementation and “go live” are the end of the road. Little or even no long-term planning takes place to maximize the value of a technology investment or to ensure it can meet future business needs.

However, in today’s constantly changing business environment, a business’s 2017 objectives may not be the same as its 2020 objectives. That is why workforce solutions need a forward-looking strategic roadmap that will help the organization respond to ever-evolving market conditions while also meeting short-term and long-term goals.

"A strategic roadmap should be considered a long-range plan for flexibly aligning your organization’s workforce needs with that strategy"

Whether your organization will be making an acquisition, introducing new products, expanding into new global markets, streamlining operations to reduce costs, or simply responding to new labor regulations, a strategic roadmap will help effectively plan for change so that the organization can respond to new market conditions, continue to build engagement with employees and managers by providing them with the technology they need, and drive overall business success.

Planning the Journey

Economic changes, industry trends, disruptive technology, as well as expanding compliance regulations and a shifting competitive landscape could all serve as triggering events which drive changes to an organization’s business strategy.

A strategic roadmap should be considered a long-range plan for flexibly aligning your organization’s workforce needs with that strategy. This may seem like a daunting task. Developing an effective roadmap should start by understanding the business’s overall strategy, how an engaged workforce can help execute this strategy, and whether additional technology investment is needed to reach the destination.

Once these fundamental building blocks are in place—and an executive sponsor has been identified to lead the initiative— there are five key elements which are used to create a successful strategic roadmap.

• Element 1: Review the organization’s workforce management (WFM) or human capital management (HCM) strategy. Determine which changes are needed to support the business objective and assemble a framework that identifies potential projects and includes key stakeholders.

• Element 2: Create a schedule of milestones by identifying the steps, sequence, and timing of projects/initiatives to align the WFM or HCM strategy with the stated business goal identified at the outset.

• Element 3: Define the business benefits associated with each roadmap milestone. These benefits could include tangible ROI, anticipated efficiency and productivity gains, better employee engagement, or a myriad of other benefits which demonstrate it supports the long-range objective.

• Element 4: Formulate a project budget. This is done by identifying the products, services, and resources—internal or external—that will be needed to support long-range goals.

• Element 5: Before the project gets underway, identity and incorporate checkpoints into the process that will help to provide an honest assessment that validates progress along the journey.

Ideally, a strategic roadmap gives executives a clean and concise path with actionable items to help ensure their workforce solutions are optimized to support current business strategy while being flexible to change. It should also provide direction that helps business leaders navigate from point A to point B by laying out the steps, sequencing, timing, and budget required to get there. In addition to offering a blueprint that leaders can communicate and educate the workforce with, it should also serve as a living document that keeps the organization grounded and focused on a successful technology plan.

What’s the Destination?

A strategic roadmap should be created with the destination in mind. Though a roadmap can be created for virtually any scenario, there are several common situations which routinely play out where a strategic roadmap could ease the process and mitigate many pain points that pop up before they can happen. Here are just two examples:

The Post-Acquisition Platform Consolidation: A stumbling block for many growth organizations is the disparate systems that are often the result of multiple mergers and acquisitions. For example, two organizations that merge together may find themselves with different and incompatible workforce management systems. Not only does this result in twice the IT overhead, but employees at each location may find themselves working under separate processes and procedures. Further complicating matters, employees with unique or high-value skills cannot move freely between the two organizations to meet demand. A strategic roadmap to govern platform consolidations for all M&A activity will ensure that the full benefits of the deal are realized immediately.

The Multinational Deployment: Setting up shop in a second, or even third or fourth country is no easy task. Yet some organizations still approach it by simply securing real estate, hiring a workforce, and getting to business. This sets the stage for a case of buyer’s remorse when they realize there is little or no visibility between each location, especially if they’re still dealing with on-premise technology. Different locations suddenly have different processes and there is no way to track and compare productivity across regions. An organization planning a multinational deployment can use a strategic roadmap to identify a repeatable collection of steps to ensure that all employees across all locations—no matter where they are in the world—are engaging with the same technology while still remaining compliant with local regulations.

Other strategic roadmaps could include cloud migration of workforce systems; a workforce alignment that reviews business processes, technical infrastructure, and applications to see where improvements can be made; or a user adoption strategy to assess organizational readiness for change and provides role-based communication and education to increase user adoption rates to maximize ROI.

Fast Track to Success

According to a study from the Project Management Institute, 81 percent of organizations that are highly effective at managing organizational change have an engaged executive sponsor. An executive sponsor helps drive a successful strategic roadmap execution by:

• Communicating the strategic importance of roadmap milestones to the overall business objective
• Building initial buy-in and support from key internal stakeholders
• Removing roadblocks and resolving issues to keep all projects associated with the strategic roadmap on track
• Adding resources and intervening on escalated issues when necessary
• Championing roadmap projects from initiation to completion

Whether a business strategy shifts slightly or changes direction altogether, it is important to understand and anticipate how these changes will affect your employees. After all, your people and the processes and technology they encounter every day are critical to the successful execution of any strategic.

By creating a strategic roadmap, organizations will be better prepared to respond to the immediate needs of today while always ensuring they’re continually working to meet long-range needs as well. This will ensure both the organization, as well as it employees, are ready for anything and on the fast track to success.