With preparations in hand from fanatical observance of our three prior Blogs on this subject, the Higher Ed transformation team is now approaching countdown and launch. In Blogs 1-3, we covered the discovery, analysis, and visioning phases. We will now complete preparations for the Transformation Initiative launch by completing the Program Roadmap.
Crafting a world-class Roadmap involves four key steps which synthesize learnings from the prior work stages:
- Consolidate and analyze projected Program benefits
- Conduct a structured evaluation of individual projects
- Prioritize and select projects
- Prepare the Program Roadmap
The beginning of this final phase is a great time to “stop the conveyor belt” and take stock of the information gathered to date. Conduct an organized review of the original Program benefit projections, i.e., the expected payoff in terms of financial results, operational effectiveness, safety, quality, and regulatory compliance. Your team will likely have made subtle (or even major) changes in focus through the analysis work. You may have started with the goal of revising a selected back office function, but discovered the biggest payoff and most urgent issues lie in processes supporting online applications or alumni communications. The team can now refine the program scope, adding definition and putting boundaries around the plan. This is an iterative process, involving time consuming and potentially contentious negotiation among the Program stakeholders.
Once a revised scope is forged, the team will collaborate to document details of each selected project. Using a template to enforce consistency, the team will capture key project details and attributes, such as name, summary, benefits (quantitative & qualitative), ROI, fit with the University objectives, costs, required resources, time issues, and dependencies with other projects. Here’s an illustrative template that serves this purpose:
It’s time to formalize the plan. With leadership guidance, the team will reaffirm the Program scope and make tough decisions about project value, priority, and order. A key feature of this work is constructing a schedule of initiatives, determining order and timing based on benefit profile, resource availability, risk, complexity, and dependency factors. Numerous tools and visual analyses will support the team in ranking individual initiatives within the Program such as the following:
After considering a weighted view of all value and risk factors, the team will agree on a rational selection and scheduling of projects, defining a Program with the following characteristics:
- Manageable short phases, with concrete success metrics
- Early attention to projects with high technical/functional value and low execution risk
- Reduced complexity where feasible
- A process for capturing “low hanging fruit”
- Recognition of important project dependencies
- Well-defined milestones, success measures, change management, and benefit realization.
Avoid delaying necessary, but lower ROI, infrastructure type projects to later phases. These will likely never find their way to the critical path and lose executive support over time. The team is advised to work closely with Leadership to nail down specific program milestones, leadership checkpoints, and a workable change management plan.
This work completed, the team is ready to draft the leadership presentation for funding approval. This deck should include an executive summary, background, findings, summarized plans including Program business case, dismissed alternatives, and recommendations with a call to action. A key feature of this presentation is the Program Roadmap showing project phasing, sub-project components, inter-project dependencies, and leadership checkpoints. We offer the following high-level illustrative example:
After reviewing the Program with Leadership (and receiving approvals with attendant standing ovation), the Higher Ed transformation team is ready to launch the Execution stage. Governance and outstanding delivery will be critical success factors in the months ahead, but the plan is based on a solid foundation and will likely produce expected benefits with proper care and feeding.