Strategic initiatives are high level efforts that help you achieve your goals. Adding initiatives to Aha! enables you to weave the "red thread of strategy" throughout your roadmapping process. Every release you plan will have a purpose of driving towards one or more of your initiatives. Features can be directly linked to the initiative they impact -- agile teams will use initiatives as EPICs. Linking releases and features to initiatives ensures that the product team is working on what matters.
Initiatives are often achievable within 3-12 months, but sometimes can be longer term. They are a powerful construct in Aha! because they can be set at every level in your hierarchy and rolled up from product to company level. For example, "expand into China" at the product level may take 12 months, but it's rolled up to the product line initiative "Expand internationally" -- which will take 2 years.
Once you enter your initiatives, you can track and share them with your team and key stakeholders through Aha! Notebooks. Explain the relative value and effort of each initiative by manually dragging them to the right place on the chart. Based on relative value and effort, these initiatives can then be ranked or ordered within the list and the Initiative Rank can be exposed as an attribute in the Reporting area. You can show your progress by setting it from the Progress drop-down menu next to the initiative below the chart.
You can also link your related goals and initiatives to the time frame in which they are expected to be completed within. This allows teams to do long term strategic planning and then filter based on time frame to keep the team focused on whats next.
Examples of Initiatives:
- Performance improvements
- UI Improvements
- Better reporting
- Language localization
- Expand into China
- Expand internationally
- Self-serviceability improvements
- Better analytics
To add initiatives, go to the Strategy -> Initiatives screen. Aha! will prompt you to add an initiative if you haven't already done so. To add a new initiative, simply click +Add Initiative. Enter the initiative name (and a description, if you wish). Roll it up to its parent initiative and/or select the goal(s) it drives (see screenshot in next section).
Filter, Chart and Compare Initiatives
You can filter your initiatives to communicate which ones are completed, in progress, not yet started, or any other custom statuses that you have set up.
Then you can visualize your initiatives -- filtered or unfiltered -- to help you better understand which initiatives to pursue. Drag your initiatives on the chart to compare them as they relate to one another in the context of your goals or your product. Click on the existing default labels and axis values on the grid to edit them, and type in the new value or metric. Customize this text to use terminology that fits how you want to map them.
Link Initiatives to Goals
While initiatives can be independent entities (such as when you use them as EPICs), you may link initiatives to goals when the initiative is driving the team to achieve that objective. Simply click on the Goals box on the right and add goals that are at the same level or higher in the product hierarchy.
For example, you may have a goal of being #1 in mobile in your market. You can link initiatives related to enhancing your iOS and Android apps directly to that objective. You may also have a goal at a product line level above that, to grow by 2X in 2015. If enhancing your mobile apps will impact that goal, you may link those initiatives to the product line level goal as well. Link your goals to initiatives from either the Goals or the Initiatives screens.
Link Initiatives to Releases and Features
Ensure that you're planning what matters by linking releases to the initiatives they deliver against. By considering which initiatives (and goals) a release helps impact, you can identify what matters (and what doesn't). Having initiatives clearly defined helps keep the team on track and enables you to tell key stakeholders why your plan is the best strategy.
It can also be important to link features to initiatives in order to indicate strategic importance -- or, for agile teams, to plan EPICs. This will especially help with prioritization of features. You can create this link directly during your top down design from the initiatives slider page by selecting Create New Feature.
Link your releases and features to any initiative in your product hierarchy, to represent how they contribute towards corporate strategy.
Additionally, you can group features by initiative to create a “super feature” or collection of items that must be completed to deliver more complex functionality. For folks who use Agile development methodologies, using initiatives in this way is akin to using Epics. You can link a feature to an initiative by clicking the box to the right of the Initiative field on the feature detail.
If you do link features to initiatives, you will see color coded “initiative icons” on the Features -> Board view. This makes it easy to see which features belong to the same initiative. And if you float over one, you will see the name of the initiative in the tool tip.
View Initiatives on your Home screen
Linking releases to initiatives creates the strategic roadmap view on the home page. This populates each release in the initiative swim-lane(s) to which it belongs to show its strategic importance. Linking releases to initiatives is strongly recommended, but in no way is required. You can still see your upcoming releases by product even if you have not entered a single initiative.
When you tag releases to initiatives that have been rolled up, you automatically get a higher level strategic view on the Overview or Dashboard view. This allows teams to focus on immediate priorities, but still stay aligned with -- and report on -- the broader strategy.