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As food for thought, here is a list of some of the exercises a Current State Assessment may include. Lest you be overwhelmed, think of this as a Chinese menu - you don't have to do it all -- just pick the right exercises to fuel forward progress. You can right size the work based on your budget and goals. Just make sure you keep the assessment of your audience's needs and experience at front and center of your activities.
- Stakeholder Interviews (Because every department views the "customer" differently)
- Digital Media Audit (High level assessment of the digital media footprint)
- Heuristic Analysis (Profesional reviews of individual properties)
- User Research (Interviews / Contextual Observation)
- User / Usability Testing (Remote, On-site, Contextual)
- Simple Segmentation (Focused on digital properties across spectrum of need)
- User Personas (Including Technographics, Footprint Analysis)
- User Needs Assessment
- Competitive Analysis (Direct and indirect)
- Operational Assessment
- Market Analysis
What Benefits do Current State Analyses Drive?
Objectively and unilaterally reviewing the current state can help drive the "aha" moments that pave the way to future success. In short, they make future state vision and startegy easier by helping companies realistically identify:
- The true scope and nature of the digital undertaking
- How the organization is handling digital properties across the company
- How the digital presence meets the needs of the company's audience
- The resources, time and investment that are required to manage the digital presence
- Areas of inconsistency, inefficiency, weakness and shorcomings
- Competitive and market opportunities that may exist
- Results that can serve as benchmarks for future evaluation
Can We Develop an Objective Current State Using Internal Resources?
As a consultant who is often hired to bring in fresh perspective, usher in people-centric insight, I readily admit my own bias in answering this question. Having worked on both the client and consulting sides, I have found it difficult to manage bias on internally executed projects -- especially ones managed by a department or division within a single area of the business. The natural alignments and perspectives people have as corporate employees with various levels of "skin in the digital game" - makes it very difficult for internal resources to be objective across the board.
Again, what we're trying to do is look unilaterally at what we're doing across the organization and view it fairly and objectively -- and align resources to deliver better. To do this right, it's essential to neutralize bias - even the perception of bias. Otherwise we can undermine results as well as organizational collaboration.
While I do think that companies can be objective in some areas, and there are tasks that can be internally managed or collaboratively executed, I am usually a proponent of bringing in an third party agency or consultancy to help. I'm also a fan of using objective research methodologies to evaluate the current state, audience sentiment, and existing CX.
Contrary to popular opinion, this doesn't have to cost much, and doesn't require a huge team of resources. In fact, obtaining outside perspective can be a highly effective way to burst bias bubbles and bring business stakeholders into a more reality-based, aligned, collaborative state of mind. It's also a great way to break up "analysis paralysis" and "he said, she said" logjam inside the organization.
- Have you done a current state asessment on your digital media approach?
- How do you balance your need to be tactical (execute) and strategic (plan/improve for future)?
- How are you structuring to support your footprint?
- When are you bringing in third-party agencies or consultants, where has support been most valuable?
- Where do you insist on managing things internally?
- How do you manage internal bias or "silo-based thinking" so that it doesn't compromise your digital experience?
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