The client is one of the leading office supply retailers. They are creating a tech-enabled B2B digital platform technology business, TechCo. As a first step, its mission is to disrupt traditional procurement models, catering to businesses of all sizes.
“We’re bringing the consumer-like super convenient buying experience that people demand and are used to in their personal lives, with a trusted network of suppliers and pre-negotiated or pre-established agreements.”
– President, TechCo
To meet emerging customer needs, the client wanted to transform from a big-box traditional retailer into a modern, digital organization powered by autonomous teams. To lead that transformation, they brought in a proven executive team from top tech companies. However, as a startup under the umbrella of a large organization, they had to overcome a lot of baggage in the form of outdated organizational structures, the lack of a modern technology foundation, coupled with legacy mindsets and culture.
The client faced three kinds of challenges:
Before they could even begin conceiving of a digital roadmap, the client would need to clearly articulate the problem to be solved. Once they were aligned on the problem, they would be able to figure out how to drive results in terms of actionable metrics (i.e. input metrics).
Service blueprint mapping can provide a full picture of the process. By mapping out every step of the customer-facing (the user experience journey) and back-office processes (the employee experience journey) involved in delivering the product, we can understand how each interaction impacts the overall digital customer experience and identify the most impactful areas to improve.
The importance of mapping cannot be overstated. This mapping exercise gives executives something concrete in order to make decisions about the future of the organization, whether it concerns capital allocation or building organizational capacity. Having the full picture also clarifies all interactions between groups, reducing silos and enabling cross-functionality and knowledge-sharing.
In our end-to-end process mapping, we conducted interviews and mapping exercises with the client’s directors, developers, technical program managers, solution architects, and other team leaders to capture individual feedback and pain points.
The client also landed on a North Star metric at the end of the workshops we led. The North Star metric serves as the guiding light for a company's digital roadmap, providing focus on what matters most for growth. In other words, it is the means by which unmet needs are aligned to specific value levers. From the North Star come the OKRs, the product initiatives, the tasks, and health metrics.
By the end of the first week of our engagement, we had created visual representations, identifying organizational barriers that limited the client’s progression to their end state.
The client also needed to turn their attention to revamping their operating model, the choice of which can make or break companies in this digital-first world.
In our consulting experience, rigid and hierarchical organizational structures tend to foster mindsets and cultures that reflect those traits, which are likely to manifest in beliefs and behaviours that are sub-optimal for an adaptive environment like digital.
For transforming organizations, the challenges presented by outdated organizational structures can be a significant impediment. To become a truly innovative digital enterprise, an organization must adopt an organizational structure that enables high-quality information flow, cross-functional collaboration and daily learning.
We at Rangle believe that the product and platform model is the best way to achieve all this and to execute the digital roadmap.
This model brings together business, operations and technology, ensuring better alignment between the executive vision and business strategy, and the operations and delivery functions.
When IT and Product, for example, are working together to meet common goals, they are aligned on the customer and shared outcomes, effectively reducing hierarchy, silos and bureaucracy.
Platform teams focusing on the back-end technology and data capabilities that support products enable the product teams to focus on generating customer and business value.
Above: Example of a product and platform model applied to a bank
At Rangle, we love this way of working because it not only helps tackle the biggest risks upfront, it also fosters collaboration and orients the core functions (strategy, product, engineering, experience and data) around customer problems rather than features.
Operating in this way requires having a shared understanding of the metrics, which Rangle helped make more visible from the client’s existing tooling. The client is also now able to capture their data in an automated way, allowing their design, engineering, and quality teams to focus on the work, without worrying about manually building out metrics. These metrics also inform business decisions at the executive level.
The client was ready to start adopting an autonomous, cross-functional product team structure.
Not only does the operating model allow for execution of the roadmap, but it is also the means of attracting and retaining talent. People want to work at modern companies, where the focus is on the work and creating customer value, rather than on navigating opaque bureaucracies.
Rangle teams partnered with the client to set up the foundation of a new way of working. Initially a Rangle foundation team would seed the first sprint, and with each successive sprint, more and more client teams would be onboarded until they were comfortable with the new methods.
Essentially, Rangle teams helped re-skill and up-skill the client’s teams so they could operate in this new product/platform environment. This model and training would be a huge selling point in the client’s planned recruitment of 300 developers.
In 8 weeks, we helped the client build and begin executing on their digital roadmap.
First, by leading mapping sessions and workshops, we enabled the client to develop and align on a North Star, by which to guide all OKRs, product initiatives and health metrics.
Second, by engaging Rangle foundation teams and having client teams gradually onboarded, the client was able to accelerate the adoption of a new product/platform model. This organizational structure is indispensable to successful execution of the digital roadmap, enabling high-quality information flow, cross-functional collaboration and daily learning.
Finally, taken together, the two pillars above serve to promote the third pillar of a successful digital transformation, which is the recruitment and retention of the talent required to execute in this new operational structure.