Five reasons you need an ECM roadmap

A roadmap’s value is both in its creation (working through the program, developing a vision, outing common themes, even ensuring that the work is ordered in the correct sequence), as well as its execution.

It also helps you be sure that all the critical pieces have been considered and people have been engaged. Governance? Check. Change management? Check. Migration planning? Check. User experience design? Check. And so on.

The most obvious reason for developing a roadmap is that it helps you plan, prioritize and organize your program of work, but outside of that, there are several other notable side-effects when you develop a kick-ass roadmap.

1. Address the cause, not the symptoms

A disciplined approach to building the roadmap will help figure out the right level from which to look at the problems and opportunities. This is critical to help an organization from being myopically focused on a few specific problems. Stepping back affords the opportunity to see the larger system at play.

When this is coupled with human-centred research techniques, we really start to see the full system view unfold. It starts to expose broader cause-and-affect relationships that might have been invisible if you were too focused on specific problems. The ultimate benefit is that the process exposes the root causes of problems allowing organizations to address them effectively rather than getting caught in the endless cycle of treating symptoms.

At the heart of our ability to help our clients step back in this very important way is discipline. It's sort of an organization’s version of the discipline that the Stanford Marshmallow Experiment discovered. It's human nature to see a problem and start to solve that problem before our brains have had half a chance to really understand the problem. Just like pounding back the marshmallow right in front of us, coming up with a solution right away is a sweet little dopamine rush. The problem is, of course, we have no idea what problem we really need to solve.

This “see a problem, solve a problem” impulsive behavior is a reinforcing cycle in organizations. It's like a game of whack-a-mole where the faster you solve a problem, the faster another one pops up. It feels like progress, but it's not.

2. Break-down a complex initiative (provide better visibility)

A great roadmap deconstructs your complex, multi-phased, and multi-stakeholder project into a plan that is consumable for all parties. A roadmap’s visual nature allows interested parties to glean just the right level of information for their own purposes.

Seeking the fine details behind each component? That’s fine, it’s all there. Need an executive summary as a reminder? Totally okay, just read the guiding principles or the title for each phase.

The roadmap breaks the ECM program’s complexity into distinct and tangible pieces. This tangibility helps your stakeholders anticipate what’s coming as well as witness success. Identifying successes along the way is critical in order to keep the momentum and excitement throughout a long ECM program.

3. Change management (you can’t start early enough)

A roadmap’s accessibility also means that it’s a great change management tool. If it’s not accessible, then it’s likely not a good roadmap. When we develop roadmaps, we target different audiences and aim to explicitly describe the value of the initiative to those audiences: Value to Compliance, Value to the Business (in addition to compliance), and Value to the Employee.

Check out our roadmap template below; it’s designed to be visually appealing so that it can be printed out (they are often three feet high by six feet long) and pinned to a wall.

4. Alignment (because we need all stakeholders to engage for success)

ECM projects are unique in their breadth and depth within an organization. ECM success requires that all parties that have information assets within an organization participate. This participation comes through understanding, alignment, and trust in the process.

An extension to the idea of change management is alignment. We think of alignment as change management from an organizational perspective, rather than from an individual perspective. In this context, the process of building a roadmap is an even more powerful tool.

Your stakeholders will engage more readily in a roadmap that they helped to develop. They are also your ambassadors within the organization. (There’s also the not-insignificant fact that great collaboration will also produce a much higher quality outcome!)

The process to develop the roadmap is critical; not just to the success of the roadmap, but to the engagement of your constituents. There are several phases to roadmap development including research, vision setting, developing the big ideas, and then, finally fleshing out the details.

Collaboratively developing the roadmap—at least the vision setting and the development of the big ideas—is a prime opportunity to engage your stakeholders. This can be as simple as a workshop to capture themes on sticky notes, or more involved exercises (we often use the workshop techniques described in Game Storming).

5. Establish good rhythms (and practice makes perfect…) 

Finally, establishing the mechanism of a roadmap early on in the project cycle introduces a framework for on-going planning. This framework should allow you to continually review progress and then (re-)evaluate solution features, priorities and outcomes.

Like most things, roadmaps and road-mapping takes practice; you’ll need to persevere. Initially, your timelines might be out of whack, or maybe the you don’t get the communication uplift from your roadmap because the language isn’t quite right.

Want to chat? Contact us today!

Download our Habanero ECM roadmap template.

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