What is a Technology Roadmap?
A technology roadmap
, also known as an IT roadmap,
outlines the organization's strategy, initiatives, and the technology foundation that supports them. This roadmap becomes the single reference that everyone in the organization uses.
Why is a Technology Roadmap Important?
Technology is a resource that everyone in the organization relies on. And yet it is too often an afterthought rather than a primary factor in strategic decision-making. As Yogi Berra famously said, "If you don't know where you're going, you might end up someplace else."
Technology is changing quickly. It's not a decide once and forget it.
The ease to acquire technology is both a convenience and a risk.
Customers expect -- and deserve -- responsiveness to their latest wants and needs.
Employees are expected to do more in less time, increasing the demand for the most effective technology to make that possible.
C-suite decision-making needs to be informed, confident, and fast. Leaders need a reliable resource that will provide them with up-to-date information that guides responsible action.
The shift to work from anywhere and the rise of shadow IT make the need for a well-documented technology roadmap essential for the C-suite.
How Do You Use a Technology Roadmap?
Every technology has a lifecycle and a role in the organization's long-term growth. A clear IT roadmap guides strategy through these 8 technology lifecycle phases.
1. Plan :
What does your IT framework look like now, where do you want to go, how will technology support these goals?
2. Evaluate :
Objectively assess products and services that meet your clearly-defined needs.
3. Deploy :
Rollout new technology based on a detailed project plan that everyone agrees to.
4. Integrate :
Technology needs to work together. Your project plan should include the steps and timeline to make the most of each new piece of technology.
5. Monitor :
Continuously monitor, gather user feedback, and measure the results. Every decision won't be the right one so know when it's time to make a change.
6. Leverage :
Uncovering new opportunities is what forward-thinking leaders do. What data, what customers, what workflow improvements can open a new door?
7. Upgrade :
Technology needs refreshing from time to time. Include vendor updates as part of the IT team's responsibilities. Plan for them, communicate with impacted users in advance, actively monitor the results.
8. Retire :
Even the best decision at the time can't live forever. Careful planning will allow you to budget and plan for end of life hardware and software.
How Do You Create a Technology Roadmap?
1. Start with where you are now
The first step in creating your strategic IT roadmap is with an IT asset management discovery.
The hardware, software, and people who are your valuable IT assets are the foundation of your roadmap. Knowing what they are, where they live, and what they contribute to your organization is like the "you are here" map marker.
2. Create the shared visual
A visual that everyone in your organization has access to creates a common communication tool. Identifying all of your IT assets and then sharing them in a way everyone easily understands sets a clear starting point. It eliminates the guesswork, the assumptions, the flawed thinking that become initiative-killers down the road.
The purpose of this you-are-here picture isn't to dive in and quickly make decisions. Think of it simply as the big map without directions or a final destination. It's just what exists right now. The trip planning comes next.
Depending on the size and complexity of your technology framework, you may decide to create a series of visuals. The goal is to create an easy-to-use reference for everyone in the organization. This will become the guide for all of your strategic planning and ongoing initiatives.
3. Collect all of your strategic plans and project ideas
Technology alone doesn't decide how, what, and when strategic plans are executed. And neither should initiatives be planned without taking existing technologies into consideration. Planning, execution, and technology go hand-in-hand. It is a continual balance between where you are now, where you need to go, and how these two align.
4. Encourage collaboration among internal and external customers
Listening to the needs and input from the broad user community helps connect and prioritize initiatives with the right technology. This leads to more informed decisions based on discoveries. For example --
Where are gaps?
Where are the easy to execute initiatives given the available technology tools and resources?
Where are the unexpected opportunities your IT framework has uncovered?
What tools, technologies, and people are lacking?
What technology changes are critical?
What technologies are reaching end of life? How will that impact our initiatives?
Is our current IT budget aligned with our existing technology and the things we need to execute?
The list goes on. The important point here is this. Strategy and technology are both continually changing as your organization matures. The proper technology roadmap, which should be updated often, guides the effective execution of your strategic plans.
5. Include your technology roadmap in all day-to-day decision-making
Technology needs a visible role throughout your organization. Technology alone doesn't deliver results and solve problems. It's how technology serves the needs of users, customers, and the organization that should drive decision-making.
Every IT buying decision
and new organization initiative should follow a clear set of objective questions. This discipline --
encourages alignment between strategic goals and short-term big ideas
eliminates siloed thinking, even in small organizations
supports sound financial decisions aligned with the budget
eliminates redundant IT purchases
replaces IT dread with technology as a business-first relationship
creates a more informed, strategic thinking culture throughout the organization
creates a curious learning mindset when everyone understands what technology really does
gives IT leadership and their team the active participation role the organzation needs
helps prioritize initiatives across the organization
encourages creative thinking and the ability to see new opportunities
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