What’s an IT Roadmap and How to Design One

What's an IT Roadmap? A technology roadmap, also known as an IT roadmap, is a visual document that presents and communicates an organization's plan for technology initiatives. In other words, an IT roadmap will highlight what, when, and why the technology solutions offered will be implemented. Often, roadmaps are designed to fix what's broken, but they can also be used to uncover opportunities and the potential of your business. In a perfect scenario, it's used for both.

Your IT roadmap should serve as a flexible planning technique with the aim of supporting a long-range strategy, though it supports both long and short-term goals. As we approach the end of the year, your business plan is likely well underway, if not yet completed. Do you have a technology roadmap that supports all aspects of your business?

In today's modern workplace, with technology being so ingrained in everyone's daily lives, it's important that the CEO of a company is working closely with its CTO, CIO, and other technology leaders to ensure the right technology is installed in their systems and network to empower their employees. Every company has specific business goals that they want to drive throughout the organization so the leaders of that organization need to be asking themselves 'what kind of technology can support these goals?' as well as 'do my employees have the technologies they need to be productive and successful?'

Overall, the technology roadmap needs to be supporting the overall business roadmap. These need to be strategically aligned to ensure business growth and success. Here, we will go into what every technology roadmap needs and how you can get started.

Not sure where to get started with your roadmap? Request a Network Assessment for one of our tech experts comes on-site to do a full analysis of your network and infrastructure so that you can start planning today.

How to Build an IT Roadmap  

The Strategy - Like everything else, an IT roadmap starts with a well-designed strategy. You will first have to determine what are your priorities and what you hope to generate. Many IT roadmaps are used to reduce waste, but they can also be utilized to help determine what tools can benefit your teams, how to deliver a better customer experience, or even to streamline overall operations, among others.

Needs, Priorities & Timeline - When creating and implementing one such roadmap, it's important to remember that you can't always do it all. A roadmap should not be overwhelming - it should be the opposite. It is necessary for you to get visibility as it relates to the who, how, when, and where of each project. In addition, make sure that you are looking at mitigating risk versus leveraging technology with each project. This can help your prioritize what's needed versus what's wanted.

You also need to review your business processes to highlight inefficiencies, identify all technology gaps, as well as functional capabilities. Then prepare an itemized and prioritized checklist of the necessary steps that need to be taken.

Lastly, realistic timelines are crucial in creating a successful IT roadmap. These schedules and deadlines should be for each project and based on the order of priority as well as the duration of each project plus the available resources. One way of relieving some of the stress and workload is by leveraging external resources, such as consultants. They can also contribute with added value and experience, and help you avoid some of the common pitfalls encountered by others.

Balancing Risks - A roadmap wouldn't be complete without considering the uncertainty of things, especially when it comes to mitigating risk with your technology and infrastructure. Security should always be a priority in today's world. With a stable infrastructure, you'll be able to leverage the technology you need and not hinder productivity amongst employees, but increase it. Consider what is a 'nice-to-have' versus a 'must-have' to help you prioritize and minimize risk. It's all about balance and making sure you're communicating these things across all departments. While security is a huge concern for IT, it affects the entire organization.

Cost Measurement - The investment required for a technology should be well thought out and intentional. It's important to consider not only cost but time and internal resources. It's advisable that you research the prices available on the market and that you create a realistic cost estimate for each project on your roadmap. In addition to the cost, take a look at how many people you will need to dedicate to each item and the time it will require to complete each project. Don't forget to also include other costs such as subscription fees, maintenance, support, or new infrastructure costs. In the end, this technology roadmap should help to facilitate investment in different departments better and improve overall planning.

Always Look Ahead - Many business leaders do not take full advantage of the many disruptive technologies that appear on a continually and which can, otherwise, improve their competitive edge. When developing your own IT roadmap, keep an eye out for what type of technology will help you stay competitive over the next three to five years. Look for technology that's flexible and scalable enough to fit in with your long-term needs.

Conclusion

There are numerous benefits in designing your own IT roadmap. It will help you keep moving forward without losing sight of the end goal. Make sure you're having these technology conversations with not only IT leaders but C-Level executives as well. When done right, technology should support the entire organization and not just the IT department.

If you want to learn more about implementing your plan, contact us for consulting today.

 

CIO Strategy: Who Benefits From An IT Roadmap In 2018?

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A technology roadmap can help the CIO act more in line with the strategy of the organization. It benefits both technology leaders and functional leaders and encourages collaboration that results in true executive alignment on existing and new investments.
What is a technology roadmap?
A roadmap is the governing document that dictates specifically how technology will support the business strategy and help drive businesses priorities over the next 3-5 years. From what I have seen, the best roadmaps contain the following:
  1. A strategy statement with the list of the strategic priorities for the business (not IT-specific).
  2. A timeline of the initiatives and projects that will occur over the next several years with approximate start and end dates, durations, and sizes.
  3. A prioritized list of improvement opportunities. This is generated jointly by the business and IT and should be refreshed periodically.
  4. High-level justifications for each project. These should be robust for projects over the next 12 months and simpler statements for projects past the 12 month horizon.
  5. The estimated cost and duration for each project. This is specific and reasonably accurate for projects occurring over the next 12 months and can be vaguer for projects that go out farther than that.
  6. An owner for each project. This is the sponsoring executive or delegate directly overseeing the project. For projects in the next 12 months it should be the specific person and for projects beyond that it can be the owning executive.
To support the roadmap (but keep separately), I recommend technology departments keep up-to-date versions of:
How will you use it?
The roadmap has three primary functions:
  1. The IT leader will use it to facilitate investment discussions with the rest of leadership. The IT leader will use the roadmap as a baseline when discussing new projects or priorities with functional executives. It will help leadership understand how to balance investment and project priorities and provide a way to visualize tradeoffs.
  2. The IT department will use it to improve planning for projects and resources. The roadmap will help them anticipate resourcing needs, plan assignments, software and vendor selection, and costs ahead of time, and make it possible to start visioning and planning with the functional owners well in advance.
  3. Functional leaders will use it to understand what is required of and will be delivered to their departments. It helps them clearly understand how they should balance existing roadmap initiatives with new requests. The roadmap will keep functional leaders aligned on strategic technology priorities across the enterprise. Active management of the roadmap will result in much better executive alignment and stakeholder buy-in before projects even begin.
Who benefits from it?
Technology Leadership
The roadmap is designed to structure the communication between the technology department and the functional executives in a manner that allows the IT department to:
Functional Leadership
The roadmap allows functional executives to be strategic when they request new or improved technology. They can use their functional strategies to begin working with IT leadership to determine which types of technology projects will be required to achieve their goals.
The roadmap provides transparent resourcing needs for when business staff will need to be assigned to IT projects, clear traceability to costs, and the detail for why those resources and dollars are required.
Most importantly, it provides a strategic, structured manner of governing changes to business needs as they arise. It makes sure there is a technology voice at the table when decisions are made that require IT support, and it encourages balancing priorities across the business, diffusing conflict before it arises.
Staff and Project Teams
The roadmap clearly spells out why the projects they are working on are important and, as things on the roadmap move or are re-prioritized, it forces the leaders to explain why and how those priorities are shifting. The roadmap encourages a clear and regular line of communication between leadership and staff.
The Bottom Line
The business needs to fully participate in the development process. In fact, if the CIO reports to anyone other than the CEO, I recommend the sponsoring executive sit outside of IT. Because of the strategic nature of the document and how critical leadership buy-in will be, it will need support at the highest levels of the enterprise.
If you are a technology leader: you need to push the executives to support the development of an IT roadmap to help you invest strategically and have structured conversations around investment with the other executives.
If you are not a technology executive: you should be pushing your organization to develop a roadmap so you can act more strategically in your area and benefit the business holistically with new investments.

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Contact Managed Solution to schedule a Network & System Assessment to build the most strategic architecture around your systems and networks. 858-429-3084

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Why You Need a Strategic IT Roadmap

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Why You Need a Strategic IT Roadmap

The IT roadmap takes on enhanced importance for the technology leader as they move from operator to strategist. Here is why you need one and why your functional counterparts should be supportive.

By Steve Ronan as written on www.cio.com

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I have come across several companies recently who do not yet have an IT roadmap.
In each situation the technology leader has said they want to be more strategic: they have visions of tech that pushes the business strategy forward and they have heard great stories about cloud/mobile/digital/social/etc. Unfortunately, they work in a cycle of reaction that manages to short-term needs rather than strategic priorities and many cannot find a way out.
Enterprise software is a victim of this cycle. Since it’s complex and pervasive it requires constant feeding by the IT department. Because it’s used to support fundamental business functions users frequently request new functionality. This makes it difficult to adopt the newest, most exciting technologies available because the immediate priorities are always fixing what exists.
CIOs themselves recognize this. Steven Norton (@steven_norton) at the Wall Street Journal (@CIOJournal) summarized the Top 5 priorities for CIOs this year. Two of the five are directly related to strategic vision (the other three are all related to security and risk).
The question becomes: “how?” The answer often lies in a new roadmap. A technology roadmap can help the CIO act more in line with the strategy of the organization. It benefits both technology leaders and functional leaders and encourages collaboration that results in true executive alignment on existing and new investments.
What is a technology roadmap?

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A roadmap is the governing document that dictates specifically how technology will support the business strategy and help drive businesses priorities over the next 3-5 years. From what I have seen, the best roadmaps contain the following:
  1. A strategy statement with the list of the strategic priorities for the business (not IT-specific).
  2. A timeline of the initiatives and projects that will occur over the next several years with approximate start and end dates, durations, and sizes.
  3. A prioritized list of improvement opportunities. This is generated jointly by the business and IT and should be refreshed periodically.
  4. High-level justifications for each project. These should be robust for projects over the next 12 months and simpler statements for projects past the 12 month horizon.
  5. The estimated cost and duration for each project. This is specific and reasonably accurate for projects occurring over the next 12 months and can be vaguer for projects that go out farther than that.
  6. An owner for each project. This is the sponsoring executive or delegate directly overseeing the project. For projects in the next 12 months it should be the specific person and for projects beyond that it can be the owning executive.
To support the roadmap (but keep separately), I recommend technology departments keep up-to-date versions of:
How will you use it?
The roadmap has three primary functions:
  1. The IT leader will use it to facilitate investment discussions with the rest of leadership. The IT leader will use the roadmap as a baseline when discussing new projects or priorities with functional executives. It will help leadership understand how to balance investment and project priorities and provide a way to visualize tradeoffs.
  2. The IT department will use it to improve planning for projects and resources. The roadmap will help them anticipate resourcing needs, plan assignments, software and vendor selection, and costs ahead of time, and make it possible to start visioning and planning with the functional owners well in advance.
  3. Functional leaders will use it to understand what is required of and will be delivered to their departments. It helps them clearly understand how they should balance existing roadmap initiatives with new requests. The roadmap will keep functional leaders aligned on strategic technology priorities across the enterprise. Active management of the roadmap will result in much better executive alignment and stakeholder buy-in before projects even begin.
Who benefits from it?
Technology Leadership
The roadmap is designed to structure the communication between the technology department and the functional executives in a manner that allows the IT department to:
Functional Leadership
The roadmap allows functional executives to be strategic when they request new or improved technology. They can use their functional strategies to begin working with IT leadership to determine which types of technology projects will be required to achieve their goals.
The roadmap provides transparent resourcing needs for when business staff will need to be assigned to IT projects, clear traceability to costs, and the detail for why those resources and dollars are required.
Most importantly, it provides a strategic, structured manner of governing changes to business needs as they arise. It makes sure there is a technology voice at the table when decisions are made that require IT support, and it encourages balancing priorities across the business, diffusing conflict before it arises.
Staff and Project Teams
The roadmap clearly spells out why the projects they are working on are important and, as things on the roadmap move or are re-prioritized, it forces the leaders to explain why and how those priorities are shifting. The roadmap encourages a clear and regular line of communication between leadership and staff.
The Bottom Line
The business needs to fully participate in the development process. In fact, if the CIO reports to anyone other than the CEO, I recommend the sponsoring executive sit outside of IT. Because of the strategic nature of the document and how critical leadership buy-in will be, it will need support at the highest levels of the enterprise.
If you are a technology leader: you need to push the executives to support the development of an IT roadmap to help you invest strategically and have structured conversations around investment with the other executives.
If you are not a technology executive: you should be pushing your organization to develop a roadmap so you can act more strategically in your area and benefit the business holistically with new investments.

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Case Study: City IT Department Upgrades Infrastructure and Builds Successful Roadmap

City IT Department Upgrades Infrastructure and Builds Successful Technology Roadmap

 

Industry: City/Municipality/Government

Business Needs:

A city in San Diego County with more than 1200 employees finally received the budget to improve their IT infrastructure. The city needed to upgrade over 600 Windows XP desktops that were no longer supported because they presented a security risk. They wanted to migrate to a cloud-based solution for email and were evaluating Microsoft Office 365 to improve employees productivity and increase collaboration. The organization also needed to migrate over 60 servers that were running on Windows server 2003 which Microsoft ended support in July, 2015. The city needed to focus on implementing new and innovative ideas to move the business forward, not worry about if their infrastructure was running properly or presented a security risk.

Solution:

Managed Solution partnered with the city's IT department to assess their overall network and provide a detailed IT roadmap. Managed Solution provided a GAP analysis for the IT department with the results showing how the city stacks up against contemporary IT services given their size and complexity of operations. Managed Solution addressed security concerns by making sure the environment was up to date, effective and not obtrusive into productivity. We also analyzed the city's network infrastructure ensuring they had the appropriate bandwidth to run cloud-based applications. Managed Solution recommended to virtualize more of their servers and move beyond virtualization to a private and public cloud environment. The hybrid cloud environment provided a solution for some applications to run on-premises in a Microsoft-based private cloud environment and others to run in Windows Azure. Delivering IT as a Service provided the city with a solution that was able to upgrade their IT infrastructure with reliable services. Managed Solution implemented this strategy by performing a thorough network assessment of their existing infrastructure and understanding the city’s business objectives.

Success:

Assessing the city’s network allowed Managed Solution to provide a detailed and comprehensive IT roadmap. The city was able to identify a migration strategy to reduce security risks, retire old infrastructure, and improve employees productivity and end-user experience. The roadmap better supports business growth and provides strategies to standardize, virtualize, and cloud-enabled its IT assets. The technology roadmap is allowing the city to focus on using technology for better operational inefficiencies while improving productivity and reducing IT troubleshooting.