Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Meeting Highlights: Reverse Roadmaps in QBRs

Photo: Steve Johnson
I had a great opportunity last week to present at the local Customer Success networking event. Created by Dave Blake, former Vice President of Global Account Management at Adobe, the Salt Lake City Customer Success networking group is an opportunity for local technology companies to come together and learn from one another. Our topic last week was Quarterly Business Reviews. An important part to any successful customer success program, the Quarterly Business Review (QBR) provides an opportunity to lift our heads up from the day to day operational and tactical technical discussions that we're often engaging in with our customers. The QBR, if properly set up, realigns executives, program sponsors, business stakeholders and project team members on the business purpose for the technology; provides a status update on the business goals of the program; updates, educates and reinforces the value of the solution; and provides a forum for making specific asks of each of the stakeholders - the call to action.
During the networking event we exchanged some great ideas on QBRs, engaging executives and how to leverage data as a part of the discussion without losing the focus or attention of the people in the room. Despite some business specific variations, the HireVue model for QBRs appeared to resonate with group. The HireVue model and the one I successfully leveraged at SuccessFactors includes: 
Introductions and meeting objectives
Business objectives and roadmap
Current state analysis
ROI update
Usage and adoption review
Key challenges/obstacles
Success stories
Recommended practices and case studies
Reverse road map
Summary and quarterly action plan - Call to action
One agenda item that few companies were including was the Reverse Road Map. The typical Road Map topic, which many customers enjoy, is a forward look at what you plan to build into the product. The Reverse Road Map is just the opposite. In fast paced and innovative software as a service organizations like HireVue, customers often can't keep up with the innovations in the product. The Reverse Road Map allows the Customer Success Manager to talk about the value created in the existing product and creates a path forward with the customer to ensure that they are taking advantage of the newest features. A successful Reverse Roadmap discussion highlights the business value of the key features while not going too deeply into the specific technical elements. The technical details and implementation implications can be discussed with the project team during a follow up meeting. Additionally, the ideal Reverse Roadmap discussion highlights just a few key business value features put in the context of the organization's specific needs. It is not as effective when it is an exhaustive list of everything released in the last six months or a recap of the Product Release notes.
A well planned Quarterly Business Review can be a great opportunity for Customer Success to help their customers lift their heads up from day-to-day operations and issues management and refocus on the business objectives and ROI of the software. In future posts I will highlight some of the key lessons learned from some of my best and worst QBRs as well as provide insights into facilitating an effective ROI conversation with senior leaders.
What have you found to be effective during Quarterly Business Reviews?

About David Verhaag 

David is the Vice President, Client Experience at Degreed, the lifelong learning platform. Prior to Degreed, David established and scaled the Customer Success function at Kahuna and HireVue and spent eight+ years with SuccessFactors where he led the development of the global Customer Value team. David lives on a sailboat in Half Moon Bay, CA.

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