You need clear strategies to achieve business goals. You might already have strategies focused on managing finances, workspace and employees. However, you also need a clear idea of how to use technology to support such strategies. In short, you need an IT roadmap.
What Is an IT Roadmap?
An IT roadmap pairs your company’s short and long-term goals with the appropriate line of business equipment and applications. It documents your business’ strategic direction by formulating a customized plan that describes your priorities. It outlines which technologies you will use, when and why.
The IT roadmap is a long-term, itemized plan. It helps analyze and improve the gap between your business’ strategic needs and your IT infrastructure, by auditing it to industry standards. It assesses the capabilities of your business and employees to handle IT needs. The IT roadmap affects only the company’s internal systems and processes and is not made public.
The Components of an IT Roadmap
An IT roadmap may mention various complex technologies used to support the overall business. All of them must be planned and implemented in an organized manner. The IT roadmap does so by first defining the following major elements:
- A list of priorities based on business strategy.
- A timeline of initiatives to be undertaken to implement the strategy, with estimated dates, durations and sizes.
- The estimated cost and rationale for all initiatives.
- A designated team and leader for each initiative.
- A list of potential improvements, subject to changing needs.
These are mapped out further in terms of the following components:
Goals: What your business hopes to achieve by using technology and a clear idea of who will deliver them, how and when. Your IT goals depend on your business goals because your IT strategy’s primary function is to support them.
System capabilities: An assessment of your existing systems, which is essential because you may not be starting from scratch. You and your IT partner should review your business needs and capabilities to determine if they match. Plans should also be outlined to acquire what is not available with a prioritized list of steps to do so.
Milestones: Performance targets or accomplishments that have deadlines. By tracking milestones, you can gauge your progress towards your goals.
Manpower: The personnel needed to deploy and maintain various technologies. You may need to form multiple cross-functional teams for a major project, or you might want to explore the benefits of working with a managed IT partner.
Training: Guidance about a new or enhanced system because it may prove challenging to its users and even the IT team. You should identify trainers and allocate time and money for this.
Expenses: Costs for major technology changes, which can be high and may vary, based on your business size, industry, and requirements. Research well and include a cost estimate for each item in your roadmap. Budget for extras, such as new infrastructure, subscriptions, maintenance and support.
Risk factors: Internal and external IT challenges that may prevent your business from achieving its goals and milestones. These may range from a gap in technology to lack of resources to market conditions.
Metrics: Key performance indicators (KPIs) that help you compare and analyze your IT strategy’s performance. KPIs can be operational, financial or customer related.
Status reports: Regular reports that inform stakeholders of the implementation status of plans.
The Benefits of an IT Roadmap
An IT roadmap is an ongoing process that identifies the key technology initiatives that support your business needs. It may evolve over time with your company, as your priorities change, and you face new challenges or opportunities. If you create it well, it can be a powerful tool.
You will experience the following benefits if you use an IT roadmap:
- Clarity about your IT capabilities and their alignment with your business goals.
- Increased productivity because you can choose the technology that suits your needs.
- Great improvement in your IT security.
- Cost savings because you can identify and remove unnecessary and inept technologies and applications.
- Discovery and management of any IT issues.
- Lesser system failures because you learn and tackle weaknesses in your IT infrastructure.
- Resolution of conflicts concerning priorities.
- Well-organized and streamlined systems and processes.
- More strategic IT initiatives.
- Optimal use of resources.
Although all the stakeholders in your business benefit from an IT roadmap, it is of great significance to the following people:
Technology leaders: The roadmap eases the communication between the IT department and the other departments in your business. Technology leaders operate more strategically when investing in technology and handling projects.
The IT team: The roadmap will help the IT team – internal or outsourced – to anticipate needs and plan projects in advance, in conjunction with other departments.
Functional leaders: If you have a roadmap, functional leaders will be more aware of IT capabilities and challenges. They will be more discerning about requests for tech solutions. They can also help technology leaders to find and allocate resources for IT projects that support business goals.
Employees: The IT roadmap will clearly communicate the importance of projects and their priorities. The transparency in business operations would help employees have the satisfaction of knowing the rationale behind their efforts.
IT Roadmap in Small and Midsize Businesses
Regardless of your business size or the industry you belong to, you will have to use a plethora of sophisticated, and often expensive, technologies to succeed. Although they are extremely worthwhile, you need a clear idea of what technology to invest in and why, especially if you have limited resources.
Small and midsize businesses often do not have a plan for technology acquisition and add technology as and when needed. This approach can cause problems as they evolve.
An IT roadmap will equip you to scale up or implement digital transformation. It will help capitalize on new opportunities and cope with challenges.
Drafting IT Roadmaps with Expert Help
In time, you will have to adapt your existing IT investments to shifting business priorities. You may need to expand digital platforms, which would need technical support. You will need employees, who can learn and use new technologies.
However, there is a significant lack of technical expertise these days. You can overcome this challenge by engaging a managed IT company. Managed IT experts provide technical capabilities as well as ongoing management and maintenance of your IT infrastructure, service guarantees, and customer support.
You can choose a managed IT team that understands your goals, current IT infrastructure, and priorities. They should be well-versed in suitable tech solutions and all applicable regulatory compliance standards. For help identifying the right outsourced IT company for your New Jersey or New York business, read our blog.
To learn how our manageIT™ roadmap helps to create a consensus regarding the needs and technologies required to achieve those goals with forecasting technology, give us a call at 973-577-4548.