About the Episode
Welcome to Practically Speaking, a show dedicated to highlighting practically genius ideas in less than 15 minutes. Hear Lindsay, Ryan, and special guest Zak Pines discuss takeaways from Amanda Wodzenski's Genius Spotlight episode on project management, like how to best align teams at the start of a project. Lindsay and Ryan then dig into data from Formstack’s State of Digital Maturity report. This week, they cover how the most optimized organizations overcome technical roadblocks. Use this data to help your org learn how to empower employees, avoid long IT queues, and overcome common technical challenges that stall important projects.
Meet Our Guest
Our featured Genius Spotlight guest was Amanda Wodzenski, Principal at HIKE2. She leads one of the most innovative and collaborative digital consultancies in the Salesforce ecosystem. She’s spent the last 20 years leading organizations through complex digital transformations and large-scale CRM projects. Listen to her episode The Best Ways to Power Through Stuck Moments now.
Lindsay: Welcome to Practically Speaking a show from Formstack where we dive deeper into the topics that matter to change makers like you, I'm Lindsay,
Ryan: and I'm Ryan on this episode, we're continuing our conversation from last week on the topic of removing roadblocks. And we actually wanna invite another voice into the conversation for this one.
Lindsay: So today we have the honor of hosting Zach, who is the VP of partnerships at Formstack. And we thought Zach would be an excellent guest today because he actually works directly with our partners like Amanda, over at HIKE2. So he really knows these struggles, challenges, and successes, our partners. See.
Ryan: I'm excited to hear from Zach today, I've been working with him for the last two and a half years and has built out our whole entire partner ecosystem from all of our tech partnerships, from the sales forces and the Microsofts of the world to some of the biggest consulting firms that work alongside us to build integrated solutions for a lot of our customers.
I'm excited to get into this conversation, Zach. Welcome. Thanks for joining us.
Zach: Oh, excited to be here, Lindsay and Ryan honored to be a guest with you.
Ryan: Well, I would like to dig in a little bit to what Lindsay hadn't mentioned off the top of the episode and expand a little bit about what Amanda covered on the last episode about those technical roadblocks.
You see a wide variety from our own customers that we work with directly, as well as all of the customers that come through our partners ecosystem. Could you talk a little bit about some of the most common technical roadblocks you've seen that our customers face and maybe even cover a little bit about how they approach trying to solve them.
Zach: As time goes by, every organization has more and more data and that data tends to be siloed no matter how you're approaching it, like you're dealing with data silos. I think another theme is just man. There's so much change around us. So the pace of change. In an organization and ensuring that the systems you're setting up can be evolved rapidly, keeping up with pace of change.
I think those are two overall themes. I'd summarize managing data silos, solving for data silos, and also kind of ensuring that whatever approach you're taking with technology, you're able to rapidly evolve and iterate and keep up with these rapidly changing times.
Lindsay: Those are some good points. Zach, are there any kind of common pitholes you see our customers or the customers?
Our partners are assisting through our products that deter them from being able to maybe fulfill the vision of change that they're trying to do.
Zach: I think it comes down to strategy for what you are trying to do with your system. So I like to think of it as number one, if you're making some decision around a system, making sure that ties to a clear business result so that there's alignment and clarity on like, why we're doing this and it doesn't need to be overthought necessarily, but it could be, you know, we're trying to increase revenue.
We're trying to save. On costs. We believe this is gonna help us in some way, like making sure that a clear goal is articulated. I think an owner, if there's a system being evolved or implemented, you know, you need to know like who that go-to person is and who are their support resources execute on that.
Ryan: We have all kinds of different-size customers. Have you seen some common themes as far as how they are interacting with it or operations? We're all at the mercy of sitting in a queue often, as far as, when am I gonna get development time? When am I gonna get it or ops to be able to help implement? How would you recommend going about that?
Maybe for somebody in the audience that is thinking about getting an initiative off the ground, but they know either they need technical resources or they need some sort of it or ops help to get.
Ryan: Ultimately there needs to be buy-in from that ops or it function to support the initiative, being able to identify what those specific S or requirements are to get that buy-in is valuable.
Certainly like having an organization where there's strong leadership or vision in that function. One of my themes, Ryan and Lindsay for our partner. We call it enablement first, meaning like we wanna enable our partners to be successful with our products and ultimately being empowered to create great solutions that are highly configurable for customers.
And the same would apply to hopefully an operations or it leader where their thought process is, you know, how do I enable an organization? So. We're not trying to be command in control with as much being centralized and creating bottlenecks, but more about how do we empower an organization to work with our technology, evolve, our technology, be empowered and enabled to keep up with the rapid pace of change.
Lindsay: Yeah. And speaking of change and empowerment, those two words make me think about no code. So how do you think no code falls into that? Zach?
Zach: Lindsay, it ties directly, whether we're talking about no code, low code, it absolutely ties directly because the whole concept of no code to me ultimately is about empowerment.
And we have people that are working in the business that are maybe creating applications or creating a form. Let's just take a form as an example, a digital form. That's. Solving some use case for collecting information. Hey, if that information changes on a Monday and we decide, you know, there's different information we have to collect.
I don't want that to be an it request. I don't want that to have to wait in line. I want to make that decision and make that adjustment myself. No code empowers, basically taking a business decision and actioning that in a real time way to help a business operate more effect.
Ryan: Obviously we're coming from a Formstack lens on this in many cases, but we often see it because we interact with so many of our customers that have just these monster tech stacks over time, they have grown maybe point solutions that were brought in to solve a specific pain, and then they realize they outgrew them or they bring in another tool to solve another use case.
Could you talk a little bit about how you've seen organizations potentially do that the wrong way, as far as just continuing to bloat their text tax with more point solutions versus more platform type. Versus having a coherent strategy that they can build upon over.
Zach: I think the bloatedness can come from not operating through some of the best practices we just talked about.
For example, every decision, every system, having an owner and even lasting over time. If people leave the organization, make sure that there's clear ownership being clear on the job of your different applications or databases. Having clarity, for example, what's our single source of truth for customer data.
What's our single source of truth for financial data. And at least having clarity and ownership at that level is a great place to start.
Ryan: Do you think that's a documentation issue, a people issue? What have you kind of seen of how that starts to spiral outta control over time?
Zach: Those are both factors. I think it starts with the people side, the leadership side of operations.
I've always been a big advocate for centralizing operations as much as possible. So a strong operational leader is an important component. A. Or if you don't have that stronger alignment between those functions, documentation is also very important, Ryan, because these are living, breathing things. So having documentation on where data is residing and where teams should be going for different types of data and having that documentation live in a way that's very accessible and available and continually evolved are all things that can.
Lindsay: Say it louder for the people in the back, Zach, because this is something that it's so easy to do, but so often ditched put to the side, put on the back burner, you know, level 20 on the to-do list, going back to you brought up this idea of change and there's always so much change. But one thing that was fascinating in our digital maturity report we found is that a lot of organizations actually are very resistant to change.
And it's very hard to break that status quo. So do you have any advice for people who might be. That are a little bit more resistant to change or it's a little harder to compel people to make change.
Zach: I would think just the world we've lived in the past couple years would almost soften that up. Some where, you know, there's gotta be a mentality of like the world's changing.
We've gotta keep up in terms of specific strategies. I mean, competitive benchmarking is a good strategy. How do we kind of shake up the status quo? Like. Comparing yourself to a competitor that maybe is further along in a certain area or beating us in a certain area. I think it's a good strategy for getting executive alignment for shaking up the status quo.
If you're dealing with that challenge in your organization.
Ryan: Yeah, another one that I've seen for sure. And you kind of talked about it earlier. Zach was aligning with business goals, right? So if this is coming from a specific department or business unit, how can I align this project that I think needs funding, or it needs an executive sponsor or something?
How do I align this to some of the top level OKRs or business object? Of the organization, you're gonna get much quicker. Buy-in in alignment. That's laddering up to some revenue, goal growth, target expansion, maybe an efficiency goal from an organization that you can tie that to. I think you're gonna find way more success on getting people and the money and whatever other resources you might need to put behind a project.
Lindsay: Well, Zach, thank you for joining us today. Any other last piece of advice you'd like to leave listeners with as they think about the technical roadblocks that they're facing on a day to day basis,
Zach: getting to root cause. So if you're facing a roadblock, keep asking that question. Why, why, why getting to root cause issues in the organization is another principle that I live by, but then I will just end with my enablement first theme.
Having that be how one goes about thinking about an organization in 2022, you know, how do we enable our colleagues? How do we enable the broader team to be effective with systems? I think will lead to good outcomes.
Lindsay: I love it. I don't think we could have said a name better
Ryan: in order to overcome technical roadblocks.
You have to be able to identify where the issues lie and then know how to tackle them.
Lindsay: Here are a few data driven insights from the most optimized organizations around removing technical roadblocks.
Ryan: 100% of optimized organizations use one tool or a set of well integrated tools to automate workflows.
As you know, most organizations have multiple tools. We're bringing in new tools all the time to solve different use cases and problems across the organization. But the mindset of finding tools that will solve multiple problems, not just one point solution is what really separates these organizations from the pack.
And like Amanda said, in our last episode, governance, when done right, will alleviate that.
Lindsay: We also found that 66% of optimized organizations find it easy to get new technology approved. Why are brands like apple, Amazon, and Tesla so successful? Not only because they innovate, but they make it easy for the employees to innovate.
If you take the time to provide your employees with that governance, like Ryan mentioned, it'll empower them to make quick but calculated decisions and you'll run into far less roadblocks and you may even avoid them together. Don't we all wanna do that.
Ryan: I think so. You're. What
we also found out is 61% rarely or never have projects delayed due to lack of technical resources.
Our research found that organizations don't realize how much time it is spending on their processes, on their systems. And those that are ignorant to those inefficiencies can't fix them because they don't even know where they're coming from. If organization can identify which systems cause the most constraints, they're able to solve more problems across the organization, no code and no code software plays a huge part in this.
And we'll dig into that on the next.
Lindsay: Great transition there, Ryan. Thanks so much for joining us for this episode of practically speaking tune in next week, to hear my conversation with Sahil Khosla, about the power of no-code tools, check out the show notes for a link to our 2022 State of Digital Maturity report.
And as always you can find your next practically genius idea at formtsack.com/practically-genius.