Preparing your digital journey
How to create a customer experience strategy and implement a DXP in three clear steps
Here's how to plan your customer experience project in three clear steps
Digitalization has been progressing for years and many businesses have by now reached high levels of digital maturity. Customers are setting the pace: increasingly experienced, emancipated and demanding, their expectations rise with each technological advance.
This profound change affects not only the retail industry and the world of global brands. Rather, all businesses, institutions and public bodies need to digitally create memorable customer experiences in order to thrive. What you want to achieve at the frontend may appear simple and even obvious enough but requires well thought-out processes and mature technologies in the background.
This is where Digital Experience Platforms (DXP) come in. A DXP is the logical next step and successor of the Content Management System (CMS). The Web Experience Management (WEM) capabilities of a DXP result in an optimized customer approach generated by smart interfaces and seamless processes for all relevant channels, continuously updated in real time.
In addition to the obligatory CMS, a DXP usually offers contextualized data (customer profile engine, translation, omnichannel, and so on), e-commerce functionalities, Digital Asset Management (DAM), interaction possibilities (chatbots, mobile apps, marketing automation) and digital process systems such as Business Process Management (BPM) and Marketing Resource Management (MRM) through Integrations.
The introduction of a DXP as one of a number of customer experience strategies is typically neither a small nor insignificant undertaking and as such requires highly professional project management as well as the support of the right stakeholders.
How do you lay the groundwork for successful project management? In this three-part blog series, Heike Heger, Senior Lead Generation Manager at Platinum Ibexa Partner adesso shows you how to plan your customer experience project in three clear steps and lay the groundwork for a successful DXP implementation– regardless of where you are today in your digital journey.
These are the steps which we’ll cover in each chapter:
Step 1: Methodically define goals and project scope
Step 2: Agile through MVP and roadmap
Step 3: The right service provider and the right technology for the project
Chapter One: Methodically define goals and project scope
In this first chapter, where you can define your goals and project scope, we cover:
- Digital projects: Where are you now and where do you want to go?
- Digital maturity: Four stages from reactive to intelligent
- Determine your own digital maturity level
Digital Projects: Where are You Today and Where do you Want to Go?
‘Every third digital project fails’, ‘The pitfalls of digitalization’, ‘Why digitalization in SMEs is unsuccessful’ – these headlines have one thing in common: the benefits of digitalization are self-evident, but the outcome of digitalization projects can be disappointing. Projects can be challenging. What turns out to be the decisive factor is project management, irrespective of what you are seeking to implement.
If you don’t want your projects to get a bad press, you have to get it right – and plan it right – right from the start.
For the internal project participants, the first thing to do is to determine honestly, realistically and in plain language, well before the start of the actual project, where the business stands in its digital transformation.
Key questions you need to ask yourself are:
- Where exactly do you want to go with your CX project?
- What is the framework for this?
- How can you best proceed?
- With an extended project phase ending in a ‘Big Bang’ of go-live?
- Or would you rather be agile and scrum-based with a Minimum Viable Project (MVP) as part of an agreed roadmap?
And then the crucial question: who is doing it? Do you already have the consulting partner and/ or technology to guide you on your digital path? Or are the right service provider and/ or the best possible technology decisions yet to be made?
Digital Maturity: Four Stages from Reactive to Intelligent
First things first: you have to evaluate where you are in the digital transformation of your business. The introduction of a DXP is in and of itself a very transformative step – but it won’t be the first leg of your digital journey. So, decide how far you have got. As a guide to an initial assessment, we provide a four-stage digital maturity model, simplified for the purposes of this blog.
Four levels of Digital Maturity
Digital Maturity Level 1: The reactive business
At this stage, action is taken when problems arise – and only then. There is no clearly defined vision of Customer Experience strategy which means that the goals and scope for the proposed CX project cannot be clearly defined. There is a general understanding that digitalization must be driven forward in a process-optimized and customer-centric way – but it is far from clear how to achieve this and where to start.
Digital Maturity, Level 2: The Organized Business
In the second stage of the maturity model, certain initial CX processes have been introduced. However, the big picture is missing. There is no plan of action, no overarching vision, and no clear goals and vision to pursue with any kind of consistency. A common Stage 2 situation is one with some well-functioning marketing or sales solutions in place, but which are not yet integrated with the wider operations of the business. Customer data and customer approaches are still siloed.
Digital Maturity, Level 3: The Digital Company
Major steps towards ‘digital organization’ have already been taken. Business processes have already been standardized in many points across departments. Having attained this high level of maturity, businesses must orient themselves towards perfecting integrations and become leaders in artificial intelligence, project optimization and next-best action.
Digital Maturity, Level 4: The Connected, Intelligent Company
Not surprisingly, very few businesses are at Stage 4 of digital maturity. All major project steps have been taken, and the organization has also fully adapted to the digital challenges in terms of customer focus. The business has a leadership role in both technology and innovation. The challenge now is to maintain pole position, which can only be achieved through relentless excellence and a high level of innovation.
Determining Your Own Digital Maturity Level
Where is your business positioned along this four-stage road towards digital maturity? The answer to this question is an important basic requirement for results-driven CX project management.
Don’t be afraid of this step.
Normally, the question is thrashed out during a short, intensive workshop phase in tandem with the consulting partner. If planned well, this is both time-efficient and highly effective, with beneficial knock-on effects throughout the planning and implementation of the project. In our example here, the introduction of a DXP, we would profile the digital setup of the business ‘as is’ and ‘as it needs to be’ – and determine how this plays out in the project.
A proven methodology for the professional assessment of one’s own digital maturity level is the so-called ‘Interaction Room’.
Interaction Room: Methodology to define project goals and scope
The Interaction Room is not only a recognized workshop method, but literally a walk-in (or online walk-in) room with four walls. Each of the walls represents an important aspect of the project visualized by the relevant stakeholders and then prioritized and evaluated in terms of technical implications. The advantage of this approach is that challenges and risks are jointly identified at a glance.
In the Interaction Room, an interdisciplinary team of business and IT experts work together under the guidance of a method coach and a specialist coach. By deliberating co-operatively within the framework of different evaluation rounds, the workshop participants arrive at a status assessment of the digital maturity level of the business. Feasible approaches and solutions are generated for the next phases of the CX project. It is worth noting that this methodology also works well online through virtual teams at distributed locations.
Interaction Room, source: adesso.de
Interaction Room: Who should enter?
The range of participants is wide and involves stakeholders from Management, Marketing, Sales, Support, Accounts and other departments that deal with the customer and know the customer well. Ultimately, these are the people affected by the processes and strategies that will be transformed as a result of the CX project. Not only that: they will be responsible for its success.
IT should definitely be involved for two reasons. First, IT usually makes a significant contribution to the implementation of CX projects due to the deployment of technologies as well as the interconnections between them. Second, including IT from the outset promotes a shared understanding of the project, its goals and its (technical) feasibility and locks in the commitment of all parties involved. Inviting IT to the Interaction Room ensures closer cooperation between IT and business departments and also screens out project errors, including those that only come to light after completion.
A verification of the workshop results developed by the relevant business departments can be achieved by consulting ‘real customers’ afterwards.
Take-Aways from This First Step Towards Preparing for a DXP: Project Goals And Scope
For the preliminary project phase, it is very important for the business to arrive at a realistic, professional assessment of its level of digital maturity. In all areas of business, but especially in CX, you can achieve sustainable progress and avoid siloed thinking if every project action follows an overall Customer Experience strategy and is not implemented in isolation.
It is important to remember that even the best project management cannot achieve the quantum leap by itself. If you are at stage 1 of the maturity model (as is the case with many businesses large and small), you will not be able to vault your way to stage 4 through a single project implementation, because such a sweeping change affects every part of the business. There is nothing wrong with that and you need to hold your nerve. By focusing on the project goals and adopting a step-by-step approach according to the project scope, you will make sustainable and successful progress in customer-centricity.
Chapter Two: Agile through MVP and roadmap
In this chapter we set out the advantages of adopting an agile approach.
As part of our three-step approach towards implementing a Digital Experience Platform (DXP), we first looked at what it takes to prepare for success in managing a CX project covering how a business outlines its vision and agrees on a Customer Experience strategy using a recognized workshop methodology. In this, our second post, we shall focus on the roadmap and the development of a Minimum Viable Product as the two big leaps towards the introduction of a DXP.
This chapter addresses the following questions:
- What does ‘roadmap’ mean in the context of a DXP and how do we measure progress?
- What is a Minimum Viable Product and what role does it play in our CX project?
- What outcome will result from the MVP?
Setting Off on the Customer Experience Strategy-based Roadmap
The Interaction Room (which we covered above) not only clarifies the status of your digital maturity, it also begins to define your vision and draw an outline of the roadmap for upcoming projects through the right prioritizations and visualizations. Insight into which CX goals are essential – and on course – needs to be translated into concrete steps to drive the DXP project forward.
The roadmap – or strategic plan – provides timely and vital information on what the focus needs to be for a further course of action and breaks down the project into individual stages so they are easier to manage and can take account of uncertainties and different scenarios to achieve the final goal.
For example, if the goal is to develop a campaign to drive national or international customer acquisition, further useful interim and connected projects would be in the areas of lead generation, campaign management, user experience and online performance – each prioritized in line with the roadmap.
The roadmap for “customer development and loyalty” would look different. Here, urgent project efforts would be more in the sphere of cross- and upselling, customer loyalty programs, and strengthening service activities.
Project Management: Agile and flexible with a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
Once the focus and prioritizations have emerged from the Interaction Room workshop, you can make a start on the project specification. As part of an agile project approach, we recommend the development of an MVP.
What is a MVP?
The concept of the Minimum Viable Product came out of Lean Startup methodology. An MVP is the first minimally viable version of a product developed to satisfy the needs and requirements of customers or end-users with the least possible effort. Depending on the main objective of the team and its key stakeholders, ‘viable’ may be substituted by three alternative terms. These terms help sharpen the concept of the MVP depending on the context:
Minimum Testable Product. Any experiment in which (small) hypotheses can be classically tested. The first are the those that offer the greatest benefit in terms of knowledge about feasibility, function, value propositions, risks or opportunities.
Minimum Useable Product. Any attempt which offers the user a (limited) benefit and which enables him or her to give feedback on a possible improvement of the product. The focus remains on those aspects of the final product that promise the greatest added value in terms of benefits or feedback.
Minimum Loveable Product. Any prototype that the user likes so much that he or she would actually buy the product, use it permanently or recommend it to others. Ideally, the Minimum Loveable Product would result from the insights gained through Minimum Testable and Minimum Useable Products.
The development of a Minimum Viable Product embraces every product metric but does not claim to be the finished article. Once complete, an MVP needs to be evaluated in the broadest terms – always with a view to the fact that further improvements and changes can take place at any time.
Concrete workshop outputs for the MVP:
- Technology: We understand the current situation and have a definition of the target situation
- Personas: We have a working knowledge of one to two target personas
- Touchpoints: We are building an understanding of our defined target groups
- Performance: We understand the weak points of the prototyped product and know where more work is needed.
Once the MVP is ready, you are in a good position to come to a professional judgement and to evaluate early on whether the result meets your expectations – or whether more is needed.
MVP: Critical Evaluation Questions
Did we get our technology approach right?
- Which new and additional technologies do we need to implement our roadmap?
- Which technologies do we need specifically? Do we have a system landscape that needs to be taken into account? Which interfaces are necessary?
- Are there other (existing) solutions that we absolutely must include in our technology concept?
Do we need another consulting approach?
- Which topics do we need to think through strategically?
- Do we need further workshops to go into other/new areas?
- Do processes (internal/external) need further analysis?
Takeaways: MVP and optimal roadmap
The agile approach with an MVP is definitely superior to the classic waterfall methodology with a ‘Big Bang’ moment of go-live. It allows for a perfect and fast immersion in the digital vision coupled with the development of a suitable corporate strategy. Stakeholders in the step-by-step project get the right and important insights into the customer approach and can then make flexible adjustments. The result is much more sophisticated, smarter, more targeted and – last but not least – also more cost-effective.
Chapter Three: The right service provider and the right technology for the project
In the final chapter on digital transformation, we pilot you through the process of selecting the right consulting partner and technology provider
In our series of blog posts on the implementation of a Digital Experience Platform (DXP), we have so far considered the steps necessary to plan the project. We looked at the disciplines of good project management for digital projects. The Customer Experience CX strategy was mapped out in workshops, while on the project side we took the agile approach by defining specifications for a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), giving us a comprehensive understanding of how we want to implement the project. What is still missing is the right technology and service provider.
In this our final post of the series we first turn to the question of what to consider in choosing the right technology supplier:
- How do I proceed with the technology selection? What must I take into account?
- How do I design a comparative selection procedure?
- What are my focal points? How do I introduce weightings?
- How do I design a beauty contest for suppliers and select the right ones?
- Renowned technology providers vs. ambitious young service providers: what are my focal points?
What about the consulting partner? Ideally, a good service provider comes into contact with the customer at an initial stage – best of all, during the CX strategy workshops and as a support resource during the MVP phase.
Such a scenario gives the consulting partner the best possible insight and overview of the customer’s objectives and digital requirements, the technological status quo, and – last but certainly not least – of the type, scope and characteristics of business and customer data. Furthermore, there will be a common understanding of the project scope. This understanding centers around the following questions:
- Is the project most likely to be about customer satisfaction?
- Or is it about promoting customer loyalty?
- Is the focus on user experience?
- Or is it more about optimizing performance?
- Have there always been friction points on the process side – for example, at certain stages of the ordering process?
Consulting experience has taught us to appreciate the importance of a thorough understanding of the customer, the digital maturity of the business, and its culture and approach in tackling new projects. A scope-based selection process is decisive for the outcome of the project, both strategically and technologically.
B2B Digital transformation can only be accomplished if the technological focus is firmly on the use of flexible, agile software systems. This revolves around questions of configurability, implementation and scalability.
The ability to react quickly to changes in the market depends on remaining as flexible as possible and implementing IT projects in such a way that the solutions created remain adaptable and agile. It is the role of the chosen technology partner to ensure that the agility of the offered solution is future-proof.
CX projects: who are the suitable service providers?
The following points should be considered when selecting a provider:
The provider offers standard solutions and/or individual programming. In many situations, the service provider should not only be able to implement a ready-made standard solution, but also have the capabilities to customize a creative approach to your requirements with the right industry knowledge and a high level of developer know-how to back this up.
Sector know-how. Suitable references and comparable ‘hands-on’ project histories are of course a distinct advantage. You should give a higher weighting to providers with a portfolio of successfully implemented projects in your industry than to vendors lacking in specific sector experience.
Price versus quality. Of course, every business pays attention to costs – and so they should, but with the following caveat: no amount of wishful thinking can make the (supposedly) cheapest provider deliver the most outstanding quality. Pay attention to important details in the submitted offers – from the type and scope of support, to the project approach, to the definition of deliveries and change requests. In the end, a project can become much more expensive and/or take a lot longer if the bid neglects aspects of that all-important mix of technical expertise and a shared, concerted project approach.
The quality of the migration is everything. How does your service provider want to proceed on the project side? What are decisive project milestones and when will they be reached? What is the shared understanding about the project approach? Scrutinize the processes, workflows and collaboration protocols of the statement of work. This will give you a great insight into whether project success can be achieved with this provider, and in what way.
Do not neglect the ‘people factor’. Projects are made by people. Take a look at the team on the provider side: can you see it ‘gelling’ with you and your colleagues? Do you get the impression that competence and culture come together in the right way for your business? Or are you not meeting the key players on the provider side until later on in the process, after the completion of Step 1?
Key Considerations when Implementing a DXP
The key idea throughout has been to plan for the implementation of a Digital Experience Platform. Successful project planning and management are the decisive factors for the success – or otherwise – of any digitalization project.
With every new project, you embark on a journey, both within the business and with your service provider – and ideally you should know not just your destination, but also the key milestones of your transformative trajectory. The team of consultants that pilots you through the project can also be a valuable resource in keeping an eye on the overall digital strategy and in making sure that those decisive details are not overlooked in the many complexities of the implementation.
At the end of the day, project management is a job of trust, and only crowned with success when human and technical factors work in unison to take you down that road to digital transformation.
What questions do you have when you think of your customer experience strategy? What is of burning interest to you in this context?
The conversation starts here.