If you are considering investing in strategy deployment software to support your organization’s efforts to achieve your most important objectives, we congratulate you. Too many leaders talk a big game when it comes to strategy, but fail to provide the company with the tools and information necessary to effectively carry it out. (Here’s a good example of what can go wrong.)
There are a lot of systems out there that could be sold as a strategy deployment solution. You can find everything from glorified spreadsheets to purpose-built improvement platforms. We’ve had the chance to chat with lots of folks who have been through the selection and implementation process, so we thought it would be useful to share a few of the features that make all of the difference.
Top Down & Bottom Up Management
The first step of strategy deployment is, of course, defining the strategy. The most effective plans to achieve breakthrough objective are not simply imposed on the organization. They grow out of feedback and information that team members at every level provide to management. A feedback loop is necessary during both the strategic planning stage and the execution stage, so look for a solution that helps communication flow up & down and horizontally across your teams.
The classic approach of writing a strategy, announcing it, sticking it in a file somewhere, and waiting until the end of the quarter or year to see how you did, is about as effective as you’d guess. The alternative is to choose strategy deployment software with meaningful visualizations of real-time data that lets you instantly gain insight into how progress is tracking toward goals. This brings the strategy to life and keeps it top of mind even when other day-to-day management pressures arise.
Strategy deployment software with visual management also makes it easier for managers and executives to see when there are roadblocks that are slowing momentum or causing friction. Early corrective action can be applied so that deadlines aren’t missed.
Activity and Engagement Reports
In addition to knowing what is happening regarding the strategy, it is essential to know who is active and engaged in furthering the top objectives. As we all know, what gets measured improves. So if you want team members to expend discretionary effort on the strategic goals of the organization, it pays to monitor and report that type of engagement.
Active Alerts and Notifications
The reason that a simple spreadsheet won’t do for tracking activities related to the strategic goals is that it is passive. It doesn’t do anything. You want your strategy deployment software to be more than a simple data repository (although it should be a sophisticated data repository). It should also have the capability to alert team members and managers when they have tasks that need to be accomplished, when others complete tasks, or when assignments are waiting to be made. The solution should be both proactive and reactive.
Configurable Project Management
Your company is unique. Yes, there are probably things you have in common with others and best practices that many organizations in the industry can benefit from, but you likely have a few needs that are specific to how your business operates. Look for strategy deployment solutions that let you configure the system in the way that suits you best and use some of your own terminology. The more the system aligns with your company’s habits and culture, the more readily it will be adopted by your team.
It is 2017, your employees should be able to access their strategy and improvement application from any device at any time. You want to encourage your employees to engage in the moment when they have an idea, see a problem, or accomplish a task. In this day and age, it is simply a fact the people will use applications more if they can do it on the device they love.
Expert Support and Account Management
I get that this isn’t exactly a product “feature,” but the level of support you will get from your software vendor is as critical as any of the technical stuff to your long-term success. After all, companies don’t implement strategy deployment software every day, so how could they possibly get good at doing it. If you choose the right vendor, however, you will have a partner who does implement this kind of technology every day. Make sure they are able and willing to provide guidance, share what their other clients have learned, and answer the technical and adoption questions that will inevitably arise.
So, there you have it, some of the most important things to look for in any strategy deployment solution you consider. (If you are super smart, you’ll choose one that also supports incremental improvement along the way.)