The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) noted in 2020 that the software release cycles were swiftly accelerating. An increased inclination towards DevOps and CI/CD, in particular, was driving the necessity for more frequent daily, weekly, monthly, and ad hoc release cycles. As new solutions emerge, the need grows to implement them at scale too within agile enterprises.
Regardless of sector, there’s always another competitor, innovation, and emerging disruption threatening the status quo. The challenge, then, is to continuously add value to your operations and stay ahead.
This shouldn’t be a surprise. Quality at speed, automation, test automation, and agile methods are now acknowledged forces for creating competitive advantage in an utterly dynamic environment.
And this brings us to the question – how do we effectively roll out new products and projects?
The meaning of the term “roll out” has changed over time. Rollouts used to be about adopting a new offering in well-defined bursts. Nowadays, it’s more of an exercise of continuous conception plus sustainable execution. Users are moving faster pace than ever before. They expect tools and new features to be available to them 24/7, 365 days per year. There’s always something more to do and an evolution underway.
Changing enterprise infrastructure ecosystems is also impacting rollouts. As the cloud becomes the lynchpin of the enterprise tech landscape, we need to prepare for a number of new scenarios. This could include the off-the-shelf delivery, the cloud and infrastructure rollout, and hybrid deployments.
Across these complications, we need to apply the best practices that make sense in each specific case while avoiding common mistakes.
Considerations While Creating a Roll Out Strategy
Understanding the Current State of Your Business Processes
Before rolling out any product within the enterprise, you need to read between the lines of your current workflow to ascertain the best way to implement this new solution. This doesn’t necessarily entail ripping it to shreds but rather looking at what has been tried and tested and seeing how it can be modified to incorporate the new product.
Could these processes be more efficient? Can they be better managed if integrated into a broader overall solution? Will the product be integrating with these processes by itself? Questions like these can help you identify stress points and prevent them from becoming bottlenecks.
For some products, integration is possible; for others, that might not be the case. The key is to identify problems before they take a firm hold.
Getting Everyone on Board
The more people who are on board with the new product, the faster and smoother adoption can be. This means having a unified focus as to why your team is undertaking this new initiative and what they can achieve once everything is in place.
However, tracking their feelings and attitudes is a must to ensure all the stakeholders are pulling along. You must be willing to understand their role-specific contributions, interests, and concerns. It’s also important to be informed of how much they’ve invested in the current solutions and what constitutes an adequate level of value.
Suppose you’re envisioning an SAP finance solution for better financial planning and analysis, then knowing the direct and indirect influences on your budgeting, forecasting, and reporting processes are key. That means you need to grasp the effects on:
- The finance team (the people who know the ins and outs of your finances)
- The operations team (the people who turn your suggestions into reality)
- Systems engineers, architects, and developers (the people who create the processes)
Only then will you be able to generate commitment on their part.
Communicating the Plan Clearly
For a solution to be seamless it should commence with the least possible resistance from the start. That depends on how effectively you communicate your vision for the organization, articulate the value proposition, and create trust between the management and the business users. The users must know how the new solution will help them do their job better and how it will make their lives easier. People are motivated by the need to succeed. Showing them how the new solution can empower their success is a crucial cog in the rollout wheel.
In that light, you need to ensure role definitions, objectives, role- and team-specific milestones, and timelines are communicated clearly. You need to promote transparency right off the bat and make sure everyone knows what’s at stake and what’s in it for them.
Developing an Action Plan for Change
Since change is inevitable, it must be carefully managed. This means you need to outline how you foresee the rollout taking shape and establish a process for managing the inevitable changes. You need to understand what might impede the rollout, be prepared for changes in the existing workflow, and be able to change the methodology as required.
From how the processes can be improved to who is responsible for making changes and what those changes entail, you need to get the right people in the loop.
For instance, if you’re using an ERP and are looking at ways to scale it, then a logical place would be to start off with its re-engineering and selection of the most-needed components. And if a change isn’t feasible, then you will need to figure out how to get around it — perhaps by transitioning to a more scalable deployment model.
Measurement, Performance, and Learning
“You manage what you measure” — Justin Cox, Harvard Business Review
Ultimately, you need to be able to identify success and set up a structure to keep the momentum going. You need to compare performance metrics with accepted objectives and make adjustments where necessary.
And, of course, getting feedback from the users is key. How do you evaluate their perception of the product? How do you determine if your expectations were met? If not, how do you go about amending them?
All in all, keeping a quantification methodology at your disposal is vital for ensuring your solution sets the expected tone.
Mapping a rollout strategy is hard but crucial. There’s a lot of uncertainty involved in this process, even if you have experience with the product being rolled out. And changes are inevitable along the way. Thus, you need to be prepared to pivot if things don’t go as planned.
You need to be agile and remain open-minded. However, that doesn’t mean you should rush the process. There’s a fine balance to be struck between the two extremes.
Also, what works for one organization may not necessarily work for another organization. Factors like scalability and budget constraints come into play at some point in time.
However, at the very least, you must understand how your users will be affected. You need to establish a system that allows you to measure and benchmark your progress. And you need to ask yourself if there are ways to do it better and more efficiently. A great rollout will enable massive success in utilization and deliver brilliant ROI.