Digital Transformation

No plan ever survives contact with the enemy

By Hayden Sutherland |

April 29, 2014 | 3 min read

I spend a lot of my time working with online and e-commerce clients to plan out activities that benefit their businesses. From creating digital strategy roadmaps through to building implementation plans for online transformation projects, I must spend a great deal of time forecasting what will happen at certain points & times.

However, it never actually works out exactly the way you want it to. Things never go precisely as planned, such as:

  • Buyer personas don’t exactly match the types of customers you actually get
  • Traffic volumes are higher (or lower) than expected – and consequently don’t match the volume & performance levels tested for
  • Data models crafted at the inception of the development need tweaking
  • A new requirement gets added once the ‘final’ set has been signed-off

Or to quote the legendary military strategist Sun Tzu … No plan ever survives contact with the enemy

But that’s OK, we don’t live in a world where e-commerce projects need huge industrial effort and timescales to implement. Most of what we may think of an innovative has usually been done online already (and perhaps, quicker faster or cheaper) by others.

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Now when creating modern digital products and services what you need is not a more detailed plan of what you and your team are doing, but instead you should have:

  1. A complete understanding of what problem you are trying to solve
  2. A ‘can do’ attitude to fixes whatever problem arises
  3. Buy-in from your stakeholders that you are empowered to make day-to-day decisions
  4. An agile approach to developing a solution that best meets what is needed
  5. An understanding that perfection is never really achieved
  6. An ability to re-plan all the time, to try and set expectations about when the solution will be realistically complete

So before you actually try to work out who the ‘enemy’ actually is here, consider if it is you and the team around you that are the main barriers to your own e-commerce success.

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