How to make digital projects actually happen

How to make digital projects actually happen

Summary: A comprehensive approach for companies to transform their digital marketing and customer experience strategies into successful outcomes. 

In the dynamic world of digital marketing and customer experience, many companies find themselves in a familiar position. "We know what we need to do, but we're struggling to make it happen." It reflects a common challenge that I hear time and time again when meeting with people.  They know roughly what they need to do, but turning those aims it successful outcomes is incredibly difficult, especially at speed, and they’ve often been stung in the past. 

The disconnect comes from a combination of factors, including unclear strategy, experience, expertise, capacity, resources and ever-changing complex technology solutions.  

Here are the factors that are important to bridging these gaps and ensuring you can successfully deliver the transformation you are looking for.  

Clarify the aim 

You know what you’re looking to achieve but is it clear to everyone else? Take all the research, strategy decks and documents and distil them into a simple one-page document with no more than three things that you want everyone to remember in it. If everyone is on the same page then you’re more likely to galvanise everyone to make it happen.  

Build an effective team 

You’re probably quite clear on the experience and expertise you need on a team to make it happen. However, often the internal team has gaps (often significant) and existing partners are not fit for purpose – it's called transformation for a reason. You need to make the effort to have the right expert team on board and not make do. It may mean recruitment and getting procurement involved. It may take time however the effort will pay back in the long run. 

Create a detailed strategy 

Of course, you need a detailed strategy. However, you also need to prioritise and break that strategy down into achievable milestones. You don’t want to bite off more than you can chew from day one. Pick the most important elements of the strategy that will have the biggest impact and focus on them first. 

Maintain a customer-centric focus 

Be honest about whether you are being customer-centric - as it is key. Think about how you can better serve your customers and add value rather than sell more to them. And allocate a customer champion in the team whose role it is to keep everyone honest when it comes to customer centricity. 

Waterfall and agile methodology + flexibility

There's a danger that conventional waterfall project management methodology is too slow; there's a danger that agile methodology risks out-of-control budgets and timelines. Combine the two and you'll have a winning formula. At a high level define a waterfall project plan that gets you from where you are now, to where you need to be. Then to deliver this, use an agile methodology that gives you speed and flexibility along the way, and allows you to test and learn as you go. Once you have delivered your project objectives, then use agile to continuously drive progress forward. It's worth bearing in mind that projects never go exactly to plan, so you should always build in contingency and take a flexible approach to navigate challenges along the way.

Cross-functional/team/partner collaboration 

Ensuring your various people, teams, departments and partners work together seamlessly is often overlooked, but one of the most important factors in delivering a programme successfully and creating a consistent and quality customer experience. It’s not just about working together on the good bits, it’s more important to create collaboration that can tackle the problems effectively and in a way that helps everyone enjoy the journey as much as possible. Make sure you have regular all-team meetings.

Ensure goals are aligned, and information is communicated clearly and effectively. If the project is a key business initiative, ensure a SteerCo meets frequently to prevent larger issues and create a constructive and motivating culture for all those involved.  

Use data-driven decision-making, not just data 

Making informed decisions is critical for defining and optimising your digital experience. Data can be incredibly powerful in providing you with the information you need to make better decisions. However, don’t fall into the trap of only using data – it’s important to balance the quantitative and qualitative to create an experience which engages human beings. Use tools such as analytics, track key performance indicators, and regularly analyse data to identify trends and opportunities.  

Focus on the solution, not the problem 

Perhaps my favourite mantra because it’s all too easy to get caught up in just the problems. Identifying the problems (ideally ahead of time) is invaluable, and you need to ensure you get a good grip on what the problem is (not what your gut instinct thinks it might be). Then the key is to move from the problem to the solution. 10% effort on the problem and 90% effort on the solution will stand you in good stead for always moving things forward in a positive direction. I like to use this simple framework to focus people whenever a problem comes up: Goal -> Problem -> Solution.

Taking the leap from knowing what needs to be achieved to getting it right and making it happen requires a structured approach, a skilled team, and a never-ending focus on delivering value to the customer. 

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Sam Page


I have a true passion for people, technology and business and love combining these three areas to create innovative experiences that really make a difference.

I co-founded 7DOTS, an independent creative tech agency, in 2009. At 7DOTS we create digital experiences that drive intelligence, efficiency and growth for a range of domestic and global companies.