primer coat of paint
A thorough discovery phase for your digital workplace will align your company behind clear objectives and goals PHOTO: Denise Krebs

The traditional intranet is being replaced with a wide array of disconnected systems: for example, Slack for instant chat, JIRA for project management and Google Docs for co-authoring.

But using disparate systems comes with problems. It means a loss of control for your organization and the loss of valuable knowledge in the "gaps" between those services.

A digital workplace that’s architected to allow your organization to swap, replace or enhance those third-party services, while maintaining overall control by connecting your digital workplace to these popular services through APIs provides the optimal solution.

Unfortunately an astonishing amount of organizations launch into digital workplace projects without these considerations, and without a clear understanding of how the it should support measurable business objectives.

Businesses can get their strategy on the right path from the outset. By running a series of workshops through a discovery process, you'll prime your digital workplace strategy for success by ensuring your business objective is realized in the simplest possible way.

How Discovery Fits into Your Digital Workplace Strategy

One of the first stages in your digital workplace strategy is the search for the right technical partner. 

Rushing into a full request for proposal (RFP) process from the outset can mean prescribing an answer to your business challenge before you’ve explored all your options (or clearly identified your challenge). Worse, it encourages a conversation around features per pound, rather than value creation.

Rather than launching into a full RFP from the outset, focus your partner selection process on the likes of track record, industry experience and cultural fit. Then, with your partner in place, you’re all set to begin a collaborative discovery process.

Understanding Business Context

Understanding business context ensures your digital workplace responds to a real, defined business challenge. Discovery aims to help you consider the wider business activities that will inform your strategy, presenting either opportunities or constraints.

One of the key business context considerations is project stakeholders. Discovery helps you identify those individuals and teams with a vested interested in the outcome of your digital workplace project — people whose actions could directly impact the success of that outcome. 

By collaborating with those stakeholders from the outset, the discovery approach ensures their motivations and views are taken into account from the get-go.

Some of the most critical stakeholders in your digital workplace project, of course, are your employees. Your digital workplace can’t bring your business closer to your objectives. Only your employees can. So a digital workplace built in isolation from the problems it’s supposed to solve is useless.

Through the discovery process, you'll build an understanding and clear insight into employee engagement and current working practices, and a vision of how your solution should or could impact those processes.

Understanding Your Business Challenge

Once you’ve clarified the business context, the focus of your discovery should move towards achieving a clear and concise view of the business objective you will realize with your digital workplace, along with the stakeholder behaviors that will impact your ability to achieve that objective.

Whatever your business objectives, it’s crucial you can measure and benchmark them against KPIs — both before and after your initiative — which will give you an objective foundation for quantifying your ability to impact your business challenge.

Remember the clearer you are on your business objectives, the easier it will be to identify behaviors that will help you realize these objectives.

Prioritizing Business Requirements

The discovery process will ultimately yield a top-level, non-prioritized list of features that could be combined to create your digital workplace solution, making it easy to define your system requirements.

When prioritizing features, your business objectives should act as the driving force behind any decisions. You will not require every feature you’ve identified to meet that objective. The discovery process ensures you prioritize only those that can drive real traction towards meeting your objectives.

Creating a Successful Deployment Plan

No two digital workplace projects are identical. Each has its own challenges and risk profile, which your approach to deployment needs to reflect.

A successful discovery should surface both your business and technical considerations, along with recommendations on your approach to deployment and organization. It will shape an execution strategy focused on maximizing early business value and reduced risk.

Beyond the Discovery

Discovery should provide you with a blueprint towards a set of agreed objectives, along with an approach for achieving them. Without a detailed understanding of your strategic goals and how success can be measured, your initiative will flounder.

A successful digital workplace strategy doesn’t begin and end with discovery. But the principles that underscore your discovery should provide the foundation for successful project delivery, and beyond.