When preparing for your retail technology deployments, a great way to facilitate and organize the development of the deployment design is to conduct a design workshop with the core project team. Either an experienced deployment designer can be brought in to facilitate the discussion and fully document the design, or the members of the project team can be used to complete the design.
While less complex deployments can be relatively straightforward to design, it’s strongly encouraged that an experienced deployment designer be utilized for even moderately challenging deployments, and especially for complex deployments.
If the deployment is estimated to take over two hours in-store, for more than 100 stores, and on a national level, it is a good investment to bring in an experienced deployment designer that can ensure every aspect of the deployment is covered and designed appropriately.
Whom to Invite to the Workshop
When planning the attendee list for the workshop, include all the people that will be expected to participate in the implementation of the deployment design. Without them, critical details necessary to make the deployment successful will be missed. In retail technology deployments, this includes:
- Every individual in a project management role;
- All technical architects and engineers involved in the technology solution being deployed (it may also be necessary to include technology vendor representatives);
- Store operations;
- Logistics personnel;
- A help desk supervisor;
- Specific representatives who will assist in implementing the final deployment design;
- Project sponsor; and
- Other key decision makers.
If possible, involve lead deployment technicians. If using a third-party provider for the deployment, include all the appropriate people from that organization, as well.
How to Run the Workshop
Hire a technical writer or designate someone on the team to take detailed notes during the entire workshop. There will be a tremendous amount of information collected and decisions made, so ensure everything is captured properly. During weeklong workshops, it is helpful to have two people documenting, ensuring that nothing is missed.
Set up the workshop so that all participants can be in the same room together. This meeting is crucial to the success of the deployment, so having people in person is preferable. These tend to be all day events, and much can be missed by remote participants. Spend the money to bring in experts during this critical time.
The complexity of the deployment determines how long the workshop will take to complete. At a minimum, schedule two days for relatively straightforward deployments and up to a week for highly complex deployments. If more time is needed, take it. Time spent designing is time saved during the deployment.
Prior to the workshop, have all the material to be covered organized and placed in a form that is easily consumable for the attendees. The atmosphere for the workshop should be interactive and very collaborative. Make sure everyone involved is introduced and understands each person’s role in the project. Keep people engaged throughout the workshop by using props like fun Post-It Notes, colored pens and markers, white boards, and other items that can be hung up around the room during the discussion.
Also, give breaks throughout the day, allowing people to interact on a more personal basis and to brainstorm together. As the project workshop Leader, it is important to manage the participants and keep everyone on topic. If there are areas where there are outstanding questions or decisions that need to be made, create a place to write down action items and topics that need to be returned to later. Put this list in a place where everyone will be reminded of what is outstanding.
For the workshop agenda, include everything related to the who, what, when, where, and how of the project. There is nothing too insignificant to consider and no detail that does not need to be captured.
What To Do After the Workshop
The output of the design workshop is the deployment design, which should be shared with all workshop participants. Everyone should review the design and provide feedback to the project leader. It may be necessary to have follow up meetings to finalize some specific areas, but the design should be 90 percent complete by the end of the workshop.
Make sure to set due dates when the design is sent out for review, ensuring everyone remains on schedule. Once all feedback is received, obtain final sign-off from the project sponsors and ensure final approval is obtained from all required decision makers.
Once final approval is received, implement the deployment design. Ensure that any changes made to the deployment design after the deployments start are properly captured, tracked, and implemented. This allows the exact design details that were most effective to be properly captured and used for future deployments.