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6 steps to a better IT roadmap

An IT roadmap is a strategy to help your organization develop, communicate and implement IT initiatives. An effective roadmap should:

  • Aid in long-term planning
  • Clarify the company’s priorities
  • Sync strategic priorities with IT initiatives

While there are different types of roadmaps such as an IT project roadmap, an enterprise IT roadmap and an IT architecture roadmap, the type discussed here is a “living” roadmap. It’s an overarching roadmap that evolves as your business and its IT needs change.

Here are the 6 steps you should follow to create or improve your IT roadmap.

1. Revisit it regularly

Look at your roadmap from time to time, for example, every three months. Does it still accurately reflect the challenges of your business? Does it account for the newest or best technology possible? Perhaps there’s been no update in a year since the business moved offices or opened a new location–time to change that. Perfection is not your aim. Just focus on accurate, up-to-date information.

Have multiple people in the business revisit the roadmap to avoid limiting ideas to just one person or department. Figure out a frequency that makes sense for each stakeholder (for example, IT personnel may need to revisit more often than the head of customer service, and IT would ideally be doing documentation too).

2. Nail down the details when it comes to strategic objectives

Many businesses restrict their thinking when it comes to strategic priorities. If you think in generalities (“I want to make our workers more efficient”) or in terms of objectives, you miss out on potentially valuable opportunities.

It’s time to get specific. Consider questions such as:

  • How do I create and deliver a better customer experience?
  • How do I give customers more value?
  • Which tools would help my employees, customers and vendors?

3. Think about the next three to five years

Your “living” roadmap should embrace technology that’s scalable and flexible. That way, your IT initiatives remain effective for at least three to five years instead of becoming obsolete in just a year.

4. Pinpoint your needs and prioritize them

It’s likely you already know about some areas of weakness in your business. For instance, maybe customers complain that they can’t pay their bills online, and many of your competitors offer several features that your business doesn’t. Or maybe your business doesn’t have a disaster recovery plan for the cloud.

Pinpoint exactly what your needs are, and prioritize them. Consider factors such as inefficient business processes, how “easy” or “hard” they might be to solve, areas where your technology is lacking and the types of technology and employees/contractors needed to address them.

5. Build wiggle room into your timeline

Draw up timelines for your priorities, and leave wiggle room. In the best-case scenario, everything goes perfectly, but that rarely happens in real life. Employees quit, power outages can derail your business for days or even weeks, or a technology issue may turn out harder to solve than you thought. Realistic timelines ensure that priorities get addressed in an adequate time frame while avoiding the discouragement and chaos that can come with missed deadlines.

If it seems that your timeline is unreasonably long, the answer isn’t necessarily to compress it and hope for the best. Rather, you could bring on temp workers, consultants or even managed services providers.

6. Evaluate the price tag

Figure out the cost of your projects in both the short term and long term. For instance, after an IT initiative is implemented, there may still be costs related to maintenance, support or infrastructure. Say that your organization wants to implement a BYOD policy. Ongoing costs could be related to employee turnover, replacing lost devices, subscriptions to cloud apps and other issues.

A living IT roadmap can be one of the best things to happen to your business but only if it’s done correctly. Keep it up to date, prioritize your needs and approach timelines realistically, and you’re in fantastic shape.