Avoiding digital regression

6th December 2013

Aligning Sitecore to your strategy and avoiding digital regression

Coming from a delivery background I’ve come across projects where things have not progressed to plan throughout my career. This invariably illicits strong emotions from stakeholders.

Ranging from a defensive siege mentality from those involved in day to day delivery to those stakeholders who were not properly bought in from the start, but are now happy to point out the flaws in the original business case (but didn’t at the time!). No matter what industry or line of product and service I have worked in this has remained the same.

Recently we have inherited new clients who are mid / towards the end of implementation, who embarked on a business change project only to find the implementation a difficult progress and ultimately needing some support on how to move forward.

What continues to strike me is that implementation detail of the “how and when” quickly eclipses the “what and why”. This in particular is a risk when considering implementation of a digital strategy, which can often be at the heart of a business transformation.

Recent experience has shown this when looking (particularly at Sitecore projects) how the project implementation has become purely a developer exercise and lost sight of the original business case and ROI it was looking to achieve. Of course we would be the first to agree that superior Sitecore developer capability is vital, but this is only part of the picture.

Sitecore is an immensely powerful customer engagement platform (CEP), in particular the Digital Marketing System (DMS) is a clear differentiation helping them secure their Gartner Magic Quadrant leader position for the 4th year  running. The power behind DMS alone can lead to business transformation in the way you have conversations with customers and personalise their digital experience. Therefore this kind of capability is game-changing and needs to be planned for accordingly.

In a way this really is the point, senior stakeholders don’t usually invest large amounts in a technology that can’t deliver. In the case of Sitecore I haven’t come across a business where Sitecore wasn’t able to be the heart of their digital transformation.

Despite this fact the mentality is often to revert back to what is familiar and if your project personnel have experience of another system they may push to revert. This is where, as a business, the risk of a large digital regression can take place, be careful!

The analogy for me is to buy a new, faster, powerful and more refined car but then go back to your old car because you’re not entirely sure how to tune the radio, or that you will ever will be able to. In this case remember the radio in the new car is always better!

So what are the usual pitfalls in a Sitecore implementation and what should you do to avoid them?

  1. Don’t lose sight of your business case and why Sitecore is your platform. An incredibly powerful platform has the capability to underpin any business’ digital strategy. It’s highly likely that DMS was part of that thinking in proposed evolution in digital maturity. Remain focused in your digital strategy and its related KPI.
  2. Be clear that your organisation needs to invest in preparing for your digital evolution. We help clients to discover their true requirements and evolve these into a Sitecore solution that meets those digital needs. We have upcoming blog posts on this and what you should consider preparing yourself.
  3. Don’t treat the project as a pure visual design exercise, obviously you want your project to be engaging and aesthetically pleasing but it shouldn’t constrain or drive the project 100%
  4. Equally don’t treat the project as a purely .NET technical development exercise, this will lead to divergence from your aims and goals.
  5. Make sure you have a partner who has a demonstrable track record in Sitecore from cradle (business requirements) to grave (delivery, transition and support)
  6. If you are in difficulty then consider getting some external expertise, especially in the context of Sitecore and DMS. Our experience is the longer you leave this the greater the work to correct.

Sitecore is an excellent choice and if approached correctly will give great ROI for any organisation and create great digital advantage for your business. Get in touch with us for more.