Digital Acceleration: Lessons Learned: Launching a platform in 4 weeks
10 steps to finish strong
In response to enthusiastic feedback on our blog, “Digital Acceleration: Faster and Further”, we were asked to share a few of our “lessons learned” in hopes of sparking ideas to accelerate your own digital efforts. (For more insight, book a few hours with a reachXOD advisor who was part of this journey and can help you right now.)
With these 10 ingredients (steps to success), regardless of how big, small, complex or simple your business is, you can pivot quickly, level up, and launch strong.
- Establish a crystal clear vision for your digital business. Someone needs to be the final curator of the vision. That may need to be you. Everyone can and should contribute as that will only accentuate the vision. However, in the end, there can only be one final voice who says: “This is where we are going, and this is not where we are going.”
- Communicate the vision clearly, daily, and with concrete examples. Having a vision and sharing it once with your team, is not enough. It’s a daily, moment by moment endeavor. Look for any and all opportunities to explain the vision, over and over and use known references that your team can hold onto and understand. For example, if I said it once, I said it a thousand times, “We have to operationalize now what we’ll need later. That way, we won’t be blindsided and unable to deliver to the customer.”
- Dedicate 100%. I realized the magnitude of where we were headed and had to make a critical decision. We could not move fast if we had everyone doing everything. I had to separate the company into two businesses: one, running and serving clients for our management consulting firm, Reach Partners; and the other, exclusively focused on designing, building and running a new business, reachXOD. Even though these are two businesses, it applies to projects as well. The more complicated, or faster you want to go, you only increase the likelihood of failing if you don’t dedicate the resources to it 100%.
- Level up your talent. Make sure that you have the best talent on each business. This is critical for any project that needs swift, accelerated results. Launching a new, disruptive business with a new, integrated, digital platform, requires specific skills. You need leaders on each team who know exactly how to storm, form, build, and go. If you want to move fast, you have to have the talent and skills that can move fast with you. It is not time for cheap. It is not time for individual contributors who cannot play together nicely. It is most assuredly not a time or place for the faint of heart. Pick and invest wisely.
- Figure out what you are willing to invest, and release money in phases. We quickly identified how much money we were willing to contribute to this effort. We did not, however, allocate it all at the beginning. Rather, we allocated money as we produced results, and continue to do so today. Granted, our timeline was very compressed, only 4 weeks, but the concept works even if the project is over 4 years.
- Architect for speed and scale. This is especially important given the choices in the digital space, our reliance on data, and the complexity of our virtual products. We wanted to scale in order to meet the transactional demands of a three-year plan, while also delivering with haste. To do this, we had to make key architecture principle decisions early on in the process. We were determined to not invest in hardware, data centers, infrastructure, or heavy, archaic frameworks. Instead, we decided to heavily invest in nimble cloud technologies focused on yielding customer experience benefits, features, data insights, security, and speed.
- Be Agile, Seriously. We did not shoot for perfect. We did not agree to “get” everything we wanted to go live. We did prioritize, every single day. We ran in two-day sprints and held firm to the process and moved priorities and tasks, in real time during our stand ups. Every team member was unbelievably clear on what they had to accomplish each day.
- Lead by participating. Given our need for speed, I actively participated as a peer in the agile process. I had tickets assigned to me. I had deadlines. I showed up to every SCRUM meeting. If the team was stuck, or split on a decision, or stalling, I owned that. It was up to me to get us unstuck, and quick. We have very smart, talented, skilled people working for us. They usually know much better than I do about whatever the topic is. If we had two or more views on any topic, each person shared their view. We briefly discussed the pros and cons. If we did not get to a consensus, then I decided which direction we would go, and we moved forward. I relied heavily on our SCRUM master to keep us to a timeline for discussions, blockers and decisioning. It actually works if everyone checks their egos at the door. The CEO is no exception.
- Prioritize and Pivot. Using the extremely clear vision as our guide, we made hard (and sometimes harsh) choices about what was needed, right now, this minute. We constantly challenged our thinking about what is actually required now versus what we could wait on for tomorrow. We had a shared vision, and a common goal. None of our team were prima donnas, drama mamas, or saboteurs. In fact, as the Founder, I even pivoted on the reachXOD logo. It was not my first choice, but the design the team came up with was the better choice. We constantly pivoted whenever and however was necessary.
- Test as you build. We started testing from the very beginning. In fact, testing was part of our actual design and build phases including copy, imagery, videos, and code. There was very little to actually test at the end, other than to stress test the platform’s ability to handle load, and the overall customer end-to-end journeys.
It is possible to still dream big, follow through, and race to the finish line in 4 weeks--or whatever your timeline is. Know that you can go faster and further with a clear vision, the right team , and trusted partners.
Businesses are folding at a rapid rate during the pandemic. We want to see companies and leaders succeed. It is our passionate belief that connecting people and resources during this crisis will create an innovative mindshare that will be necessary for survival. We want to help you get to the finish line. It can be done. Whatever digital challenge you face, we can help you solve big problems and win--even during the toughest marathon of your career.
reachXOD is here for you right now. We offer confidential, virtual, hourly advice to help you accelerate your digital objectives, faster and further. reachXOD is convenient, simple to access and book a few hours, with low risk and high reward. Book a few hours right now, and get access to the expertise you need to lead.