CONTRIBUTOR
Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer,
Gocious

Digital transformation touches every facet of a business, enabling more productive collaboration and improving outcomes and operational resilience. To get things done faster with less error, we’ve exchanged manual “paper-pushing” for AI-powered SaaS solutions, which help organizations ensure on-time delivery of goods and services.

Transformation may be a forward-thinking initiative, but the business problems we often seek to solve with digital partners are immediate issues with everyday core processes. It takes the right combination of high-performing digital tools and organizational approaches to correct problems within a specific business function. The result? Businesses run better, more smoothly, and more efficiently.

For leaders that use enterprise agile planning (EAP) strategies to support product development, there are software solutions for applying agile frameworks at scale. These tools help to ensure product teams and C-suite leaders collect the data they need through automated calculation of metrics like team velocity, burndown rates, and lead times while also communicating these metrics to stakeholders quickly and clearly. As part of an organization’s broader digital transformation, the result is smarter, more cost-effective decisioning and quicker-to-market products.

Digital Transformation and EAP: Partners for a Competitive Advantage

Organizations pursue digital transformation to make their departments leaner, more collaborative, and more efficient. Similarly, the goal of enterprise agile planning is to streamline the process of planning and execution of those plans. Both initiatives are means to a (successful) end—and go hand-in-hand when it comes to maintaining a competitive advantage in the market.

Think of it this way: If you have a lot of gates or checkpoints in your product management function, and stoppages or idleness occurring as a result of those checkpoints (such as approval wait times), implementing a digital solution without an agile framework in place may help you pass through those gates faster, but not efficiently. In other words, you might still need to do a lot of due diligence at any one stage—number-crunching, documentation—to get the necessary approvals to move forward. At the end of the day, if the approver is not around, or your gates are too complicated to pass through, you won’t get the design done, or the product out the door.

Digital transformation may translate to enhanced performance, but without the right framework to take advantage of the technology, barriers remain to reaching your business goals.

EAP brings the organization, its processes and technology together to maximize results. Instead of complicated permissions checkpoints, where teams must show extensive documentation upfront to reach even the earliest approval rounds, agile planning aims to streamline workflows from render to release, making it easier for teams to get their business cases approved and iterate to final product.

With this in mind, leaders charged with digital transformation can seek out dynamic tools that support an EAP framework. With adoption, they’ll see more synergy among teams and a lower cost of failure, largely because stakeholders will be able to keep their customer and market needs in focus at all times.

Product Teams Benefit From Real-Time Market Response

We know that enterprise agile planning is focused on execution as much as planning. Managers want to make sure workflows are efficient, that resources are allocated with minimal overhead, and of course that final products move quickly in the direction of the market and the customers. However, product teams also bear the responsibility of understanding the direction of the product and what needs to be built in the first place.

EAP frameworks advocate putting oneself in the shoes of the customer right now and prioritizing the customer’s needs in the short term—as opposed to anticipating demands 10 years from now. Using an EAP approach, product teams can leverage the capabilities inherent to digital transformation—automation, machine learning, predictive modeling—to create working prototypes reflective of market conditions in real time.

Teams iterate quickly. Having closer and more frequent touchpoints with the customer allows developers to understand the evolving detail of a customer’s needs and what they’re trying to accomplish. Real-time feedback enables teams to fine-tune products for customers or prospects that truly live up to the “build once, sell many times” exemplar of product management.

Leadership’s Role in Enabling Transformation

Business reform begins with a top-down approach; managers charged with developing new products who can benefit from digital integration will need to prioritize support from stakeholders.

This is the perfect opportunity for leaders to align strategy with business goals. As product team managers trial digital tools that complement their enterprise agile planning strategies, such as road-mapping tools or tools that analyze the product market, they need to regularly voice these new capabilities to senior leadership and quantify their impact on the organization. Digital investments signal major movements for a company—ideally toward driving value. Managers are responsible for capturing information on returns, as well as any shifts in product strategy, and then broadcasting redefined strategies or roadmaps for ongoing approval from major stakeholders and decision-makers.

Product roadmaps are constantly changing, thanks to ever evolving market dynamics, agile thinking and emerging technologies. High-capital and long-running strategies mean roadmaps have become an essential part of an organization’s planning methods by helping manage uncertainty and risks, optimizing resource allocation, and staying aligned with long-term business goals. In a constantly evolving business landscape, a roadmap that helps teams stay in tune with digital transformative changes means businesses can adapt and succeed.

The Takeaway

Digital transformation requires a holistic view of your organization, its core processes and its short- and long-term goals. You won’t solve your business problems simply by buying up a bunch of software. Consider what it means to truly transform your organization (or team) and what it would look like for all stakeholders to be aligned in favor of better outcomes. Inevitably, this requires looking at individual business functions and the frameworks around which they operate, then supporting these functions with the right tools.

In the case of product development, there’s a distinction between what product managers objectively need to achieve and how they lead and conceptualize. Teams must have a planning framework in place (such as an enterprise agile planning approach) that connects strategy with execution and tactics before the right tools are introduced to make every phase of the product development process more efficient. Only when the foundation for iterative success is laid can digital transformation truly extract value from execution for your organization.