The role of roadmaps in digital transformation

15 Aug, 2023

Avoiding the potholes: the role of roadmaps in digital transformation

In broad terms, a roadmap gets us from where we are, to where we want to be. When it comes to digital transformation projects in banks and financial services organisations, C-level executives rely on a roadmap to ensure they have a strategy in place that will enable them to adapt, innovate, and thrive in an increasingly digital-first world, while maintaining the security and regulatory compliance that sit at the core of a robust banking system.

The digital landscape is complex and continuously evolving. The regulatory framework that banks work within is also evolving. An effective roadmap must consider the shifting environment, with an eye for the future and addressing today’s challenges – while bringing the whole organisation along on the journey.

Senior consultant Alex Crommelin has led strategic planning and roadmap design with a number of banks on the digital transformation journey. He says that regardless of the size of the bank, any kind of project that looks to streamline or improve the technology needs to consider not only the customer, but also the bank’s partners even down to third party brokers and aggregators.

The development of a plan, he says, requires an assessment of what drives the business. What are the themes of the business, and how do they work together to provide a cohesive experience for stakeholders, partners and customers alike?

Engaging digital transformation consultants to develop a strategic roadmap goes beyond the ‘what’ of digital transformation and asks the questions ‘why’ and ‘who’.

Consultants drive cross-functional collaboration

A significant challenge for financial institutions is that while they are playing in the ‘funky, cool’ digital tech space to deliver a great customer experience, they also have this enormous weight of financial regulation that they have to carry. – Alex Crommelin, Senior Consultant, 9Yards

As external actors, digital transformation consultants are uniquely positioned to work across your organisation, fostering communication and harnessing expertise.

During the process of creating a roadmap, CTOs and other decision makers contribute their unique perspectives to the wider objectives. The roadmap becomes a common language that aligns the needs of different parts of the business with the broader transformation strategy.

Banks, superannuation funds and other financial services providers exist in the tension between customer expectations of a seamless, modern digital experience and a regulatory framework that can seem at odds with the concept of ‘agile’ and ‘future focused’.

A collaborative approach not only enhances the chances of successful implementation but also nurtures a culture of innovation and teamwork. This has huge benefits during implementation phase.

No detour required – stay flexible, adaptive and agile

The key to an effective roadmap is its ability to stay relevant in the midst of change. The opposite of rigid, a strategic roadmap allows for adjustments as the environment changes. Disruption becomes opportunity. Skill and culture combine for great results.

In the rapidly changing digital landscape, adaptability is key to success.

A strategic digital transformation roadmap should be flexible enough to accommodate new opportunities and challenges while staying true to the broader transformation goals. It will allow you to continuously monitor progress, gather feedback, and be open to refining the roadmap to maximise its impact.

Plan ahead to keep your roadmap on track

A strategic digital transformation roadmap provides structured framework for measuring progress and assessing the impact of initiatives and recommendations.

By setting clear, measurable objectives and milestones at each stage, the CTO can evaluate the effectiveness of the strategy and make data-driven decisions.

Key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics help in tracking how well the organisation is progressing toward its goals. This allows for course correction and celebration along the way.

Choosing a co-pilot: what to look for in a digital transformation consultant for your bank or fund

Looking beyond tech stack and based on feedback we’ve received from clients, here are some qualities to look for when engaging a consultant to work with you on your digital transformation roadmap:

  • Experience in your sector: Look for consultants with a successful track record of delivering similar projects and who understand the challenges specific to the financial sector.
  • Platform agnostic: Avoid engaging digital transformation consultants at any stage of the journey who are committed to a particular technology
  • Alignment with company culture: less tangible but no less important is the consultant firm’s ability to align with your organisational culture and values. A successful digital transformation relies on collaboration and support at all levels.
  • Change management: A digital transformation can often bring organisational changes. The consultant should have expertise in change management and be committed to building this into their strategic work.
  • Stakeholder engagement: Your consultant team must be willing to identify and involve key internal and external stakeholders so the strategic focus is aligned to meet the needs of all the parts of the business it will impact.\
  • Knowledge transfer: Strategic planning and roadmap design are specialist skills. You can’t expect a transfer of IP, but you should expect a level of knowledge transfer as part of the engagement. Their goal should be to equip and empower your internal teams to sustain and build upon the digital transformation plan the consultant delivers.

Contact our expert banking team to find out how 9Yards gets past the what and into the why, to create a roadmap that gets you where you need to be for a successful digital transformation.