What is a Digital Transformation Roadmap?
Making any fundamental change to your company will involve a lot of steps, and it requires the coordinated efforts of many people across your organization. Consequently, to pull off this transformation successfully, everyone will need to have a common understanding of the goal. Above all, if you plan to implement any change, you need a strategic blueprint to guide you through the process.
Above all, product teams can use a digital transformation roadmap to summarize the plan and goals for any move from a manual process to a digital one.
A few examples of digital transformations:
Before our roadmapping discussion, let’s briefly review what constitutes digital transformation. A business can undergo many of these transformations. For example, your company would be undertaking a digital transformation by:
- Moving from having your customer success agents respond to inquiries via chat to answering questions automatically with an AI chatbot
- Replacing your on-prem servers for storing corporate data with a cloud-based data management and backup solution
- Turning your software product from a client-side, installed application to a subscription-based SaaS web app
What Purpose Does a Digital Transformation Roadmap Serve?
You’ll want a digital transformation roadmap for the same reasons it’s a good idea to have a product roadmap, IT roadmap, or any other type of roadmap. Namely, this high-level strategic blueprint can help you:
- Communicate the vision and strategy behind your digital transformation
- Earn buy-in for your digital transformation from stakeholders and decision-makers
- Provide a guiding document for executing your digital transformation strategy
- Keep your team aligned around your digital transformation plans
- Ensure everyone stays up to date on any changes to the plan
How Do You Build a Digital Transformation Roadmap?
As we point out in our Ultimate Guide to Product Roadmaps, a roadmap includes the high-level strategic components of an initiative. Start with the broadest topics, called themes, and then group more specific strategic initiatives, epics, below each.
The process also applies to a digital transformation roadmap. Start by outlining the highest-level plans and goals, and then work your way down to more detailed actions.
Example: the chatbot digital transformation.
To illustrate this process, imagine a digital transformation roadmap for a company that wants to move from manual customer-success chats to automated responses using a chatbot.
For this digital transformation, our hypothetical team decides on two major themes.
Theme 1: Implement an AI-enabled chatbot app
The first goal is to find and roll out the chatbot software itself.
Theme 2: Update your agent workflows
Secondly, before they’ve implemented the new chatbot app, the company will want to update the workflows of its customer success team. Therefore, the agents will need a new plan and goals for the time they used to spend answering customer inquiries manually via chat.
Here’s what this would look like as the team begins drafting the roadmap.
Next, the team must determine the strategic steps (epics) needed to complete each theme. We’ll discuss the first theme only.
Theme: Implement an AI-enabled chatbot app
Epic 1: Research chatbot vendors
Firstly, the team should review the market for chatbot software. The team will then examine the different providers and narrow their list to those that offer a good fit for its needs.
Epic 2: Coordinate vetting with Dev/DevOps
After they’ve taken the first pass at narrowing the field of vendors, our team will seek out the input and expertise of their development and DevOps departments.
The developers will have input about which chatbots would work most smoothly with the company’s other backend applications.
The DevOps team will have valuable insights about vendor track records. They will also help determine the budgets and timelines needed to roll out the various chatbot options.
Epic 3: Draft auto-responses to common questions
A third strategic step needed for the implementation will be to review the company’s record of customer inquiries. Then, using the most frequently asked questions, the customer success team will draft standard answers that the chatbot will use for answering customer chats.
When they’ve decided on these initiatives to complete the first theme, the roadmap will look like this:
Now let’s look at the next possible layer of detail on this roadmap. If the team wants to begin work on the third epic, they can create a set of related initiatives called stories.
Epic: Draft auto-responses to common questions
Story 1: Review customer inquiries and rank in order of frequency
The team doesn’t want to start drafting answers for the chatbot until they’ve figured out which questions the company receives most often. Subsequently, that will be the first task for the customer success team. They’ll review the historical record of all inquiries (phone calls, emails, chats) and rank them by frequency.
This step will allow the company to automate answers from day one to help their customers.
Story 2: Study chatbot capabilities for response character length, linking, etc.
Next, the customer success team will want to learn the limitations of the chatbot app the company selects. However, they might want to draft an overview of preparing responses (considering character length and other details).
Story 3: Assign response-drafting responsibilities to relevant agents
Imagine the customer success department builds teams of agents based on their skills or expertise. Consequently, these teams answer customers calling with technical questions. Others respond to inquiries in different languages.
For this third story, the department will take its list of commonly asked questions and assign responsibility for drafting specific answers to the appropriate agents.
Here’s what the digital transformation roadmap looks like now:
Note: This is not a complete list of the themes or epics needed for this change, and we are using this only as a guide to understanding the types of details that go into developing a digital transformation roadmap.
Conclusion: Key Benefits of a Digital Transformation Roadmap
In our hypothetical scenario, the company has developed a clear plan for moving to an automated chat solution. Without the roadmap, all they had was a broad goal: “Let’s implement an AI-enabled chatbot to answer customer inquiries.” They had no strategy for taking the next step or the following one.
Lastly, the roadmapping has helped them turn their big-picture goal into a strategic action plan. It has also helped teams communicate this plan to key teams and stakeholders to ensure everyone is on the same page. These are the main benefits of any roadmap—including one for driving a digital transformation.