Disruptive Technologies can be used to accelerate the Initiation Phase. Here are some examples

We looked at how project managers, and their PMOs, are embracing digital disruption in our previous article, How PMOs Can Catch the Wave Of Digital Disruption. The article explained that digital disruption was making all C-suite executives take notice. It also suggested that project managers could benefit from these technologies by delighting their stakeholders and staying true to their project management principles.
This article will focus on a three-year program that I managed as a program manager. The program was designed to provide an international investment company with a new digital capability. This would be used to target, entice and transact with existing and new customers. This was the largest investment company’s ever made. Although the majority of the activities were geared towards rewriting legacy systems and would be the focus of the program steering committee, the customer experience on the new platform was a key concern.
My program sponsor, the Vice President of Marketing, didn’t want to hire the services of research firms. These companies had previously cost them 25% of their original website’s total budget. Instead, we looked at technology as a way to improve the game. We did this by creating digital focus groups.
Customers Participate in Digital Focus Groups
Five small group sessions were held during the Initiation Phase. Each session was attended by eight customers from different segments of the investment company. Each participant was offered an incentive to take part.
Hotjar was able to operate the machines from our user stations. (In this instance, Hotjar was used, but there are other technologies like Zarget and Mouseflow.) Hotjar software allows you to track customers while they are browsing a website.
We asked customers to complete a series of transactions. We asked them to find an investment that met certain criteria, and also to open a new account.
The groups were then divided into four teams, where they shared their experiences and then asked what they would like to see in the new website.
Finally, we concluded with a collaborative session that created an affinity diagram to group the various ideas.
Rapid Prototyping, Ai InVision to Share Your Vision
InVision, a rapid prototyping tool that allows you to create interactive concepts, was used to develop new designs. We also added some light code to mimic basic functions. This was shown to the support staff for their feedback.
The video was then made up of video from customer focus groups and Hotjar findings. It included some of the video footage of customers, Hotjar’s findings, and some video of Hotjar showing where customers had issues with the original design. We also showed the support teams the light look-and-feel concepts. The presentation to the steering group lasted for 30 minutes, and the program was approved. We were able to create these following things from our one-month excursion:
A business case that focuses on the future needs and the expected returns over the next six-years.
A list of requirements that included the MVP (minimum viable product), which would be available for sale within one year after the business case approval.
We started a list of people that we developed and evolved into customer journeys. This helped us steer customer experiences across the new platform.
We were able to lower the cost of traditional surveys and, with existing development partners we were able to present a digital presentation to the investment steering committee. It took us only one month.
Business cases for similar-sized programs have traditionally taken twice as long, sometimes three times, and the project team didn’t have working prototypes at the end. Using digital technologies, we were able