In our digital first world, an organization’s value manifests through the release of new products, features, and capabilities for users. The faster an organization can release innovative capabilities and gain widespread adoption in the user base, the higher the bar becomes for competitors to take those customers.
Digital velocity is your organization’s ability to take an idea, build a feature(s) to showcase the capability, and get it in the hands of users in a measurable way. The goal is rapid feedback that enables the organization to determine if the hypothesized value is present and if the path of feature development is worth further investment or better to be abandoned for higher ROI investments and features.
Digital velocity is the the elapsed time from idea to user adoption.
The product, feature or capability is the manifestation of the value requiring input form multiple stakeholders. Digital velocity is a measure of all the all the supporting organizational, engineering, compliance, and operational work to bring ideas to life. The objective behind measuring digital velocity is to measure the impact each team has on latency and work to improve their respective processes, communication, methods, and tools to accelerate future releases.
While the measure of digital velocity is a single metric of elapsed time, its composition includes a variety of elements that can be independently assessed for identification of future areas of improvement in collaboration and processes. These evaluation areas include the ability to:
- Effectively distinguish the adoption and financial impact of each new release independent of other market effects, feature releases or marketing campaigns.
- Maximize our organizational data and digital literacy and how well our team understands and can execute against the processes while leveraging the tools available to them.
- Recover from failed feature releases, low adoption or missed expectations.
- Holistically think about our processes and tooling to make recommendations on how to improve across teams.
- Understand the market we operate in, the threats we face, and stay true to our point of view on capabilities and competition positioning.
- Maximize investments on high impact capabilities. Wardley maps provide a powerful tool to understand the source of key capabilities and how they integrate to create incremental value-add.
- Identify how each supporting team participates in the release cycle, measure their elapsed time contribution to the whole and work to better plan work planning & sequencing to minimize release times.
- Understand our customer needs through interviews, monitored usage of our products and social media conversations that influence our positioning, work prioritization and messaging.
Continual improvement of our digital velocity will allow us to bring new capabilities to market faster and with higher rates of competitive success. The improvement of digital velocity is enabled through process simplification & automation, tooling and technology and standards of product release by geography and persona. Each of these will enable product teams to develop features within known boundaries and release them in ways that ensures predictable risk to the organization. Some key elements to increase digital velocity include:
- Culture: Positive incentives and executive support will ensure that teams operate in uniform ways, balance risk consistently, and agree on how to impact key product value propositions.
- Technology: Automation across the product development lifecycle and testing cycle ensure low human touch points, rapid feedback from users and rapid access by product teams for analysis of customer feedback.
- Industry: Each industry has unique requirements for compliance, user training and derived cultural dynamics for releasing new capabilities. Leading in established industries means identifying ways to ensure compliance, while breaking cultures of slow adoption or highly risk averse behaviors.
- External Ideas: Customer feedback is key to identifying early wins and losses for introduced capabilities. Successful organizations have tools and dedicated time to speak with users directly or through social media to understand how products are being used, pain points, and potentially missing features that will increase satisfaction and adoption.
- Processes: The most successful organizations understand the need for processes that are lightweight, easy to follow, automated and well documented. The most effective organizations have processes that can readily be followed by new team members, measured for success and have appropriate checkpoints for both non-compliance, but also adverse events like delayed decisions and outputs.
Maturity models are another tool to help organizations identify where they are today with their digital velocity and what efforts and investments are needed to improve. If there are readily available maturity models in your industry, you can anchor to them for measuring your journey. Where you’re a bleeding edge organization you may have to create your own maturity model, identifying what the future looks like and map out your own journey to improve maturity across cultural, technology, industrial, customer engagement, and process dimensions. Aligning your internal executive messaging, incentive structure and goals to a maturity model enables all team members to understand the journey, the part they play in the effort and how to maximize their impact.