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September 01, 2020

Building a Digital Strategy Roadmap: Thematic High-Level Plan

Georgia Barry
Georgia Barry
Consultant (Strategy)
Ecommerce strategy plan

Welcome to Step 4 of the digital strategy roadmap planning. In our previous article, we explained how to identify the key activities and projects you need to undertake to achieve your digital strategy goals. We also looked at how we prioritise and validate them in a methodical manner that supports your strategy and intentions.

In this post, we’ll be discussing how to use these activities to create a thematic high-level plan. This plan, whilst not critical in the overall process, can give a very good high-level view of the investments required by epic/theme, as well as a good overview of the key projects to be undertaken month by month. This view helps senior management and C-suite to better understand where investments are made, and what the expected impact and return on those investments should be.

We've seen the plan being used as a vehicle to get buy-in from important stakeholders and to communicate overall strategy to those who don’t need to understand the details of your digital strategy roadmap.

Firstly, you need to identify the themes that have emerged in your activity planning. These are the themes that your roadmap will be based on. We see some common themes emerge across many of our clients, some of which are described below:

  • Improve on-site performance
  • Optimise search & SEO
  • Enhance personalisation
  • Enhance customer experience
  • User experience & content optimisation
  • Checkout optimisation
  • Grow omnichannel capability
  • Increase automation & efficiencies
  • Mobile optimisation

Themes are groupings of similar activities, projects or initiatives. Ideally, your themes should describe some type of customer or business value, for example, “improve on-site performance”.

“Evergreen lanes”

While planning roadmaps, we have identified a few areas that we believe require attention on a month to month basis. The first is “security updates, platform upgrades and bug fixes”. It’s important to allocate time and budget towards this area on a monthly basis. Generally, we recommend a 30/70 split between this “keeping the lights on” work and roadmap development work (but this varies depending on the client and business needs).

The second lane we recommend planning for monthly is performance. As more functionality gets added to websites, and content updated, performance is impacted. We all know that conversion and performance are conversely related—if performance is degraded, conversion is negatively impacted as well. It’s critical to keep a continuous eye on the performance of your website so that you can deliver the best possible experience to your customers.

The final lane, which is optional, but recommended, is analytics & reporting. Similar to performance, as your website functionality grows, so does your need to measure and track data to understand its effects. We recommend keeping some time and budget allocated towards improving data visibility and automated reporting so you can actively track and monitor your data and progress.

The number of activities and projects that you have behind each theme will determine the level of investment you will need in those areas. You need to allocate high-level budgets (in hours) towards each theme and ensure that you have a reasonable allocation of budget towards the maintenance (upgrades, bug fixing, security updates) lane. In summary, you should have a view of how many hours you are investing towards each area, by month and for the year, as well as a good overview of the split of work between roadmap development and bug fixes/maintenance.

A final important note is to ensure you have identified your KPIs alongside your themes, according to what metrics the activities will impact. This becomes very important further down the line when you need to assess whether your efforts have had the right impact on your overall business goals.

Here’s a simplified example of what this roadmap plan could look like:


In our final article in the Building a Digital Strategy Roadmap series, we'll cover how to build a visual, time-based roadmap. We’ll discuss best practices and recommendations based on our years of working with B2B and B2C businesses all over the world, and tips on what to do and what not to do. Stay tuned…..