There’s always some new app, upgrade, or gadget to buy.
But procuring new technology for your organization requires a more complete and considered approach than simply upgrading your smartphone apps.
You need to consider how your organization will grow and change over the next few years. What technology will it need to stay competitive? Who will install it? How will you pay for it? You know, easy questions like those.
Implementing new technologies can be a lengthy, expensive, or disruptive process. That’s true whether you’re migrating cloud services, issuing your employees iPhones, or installing the latest Office 365 update throughout your enterprise.
But it doesn’t have to be problematic. That’s what an IT roadmap is for. It shows where you are, where you want to go, and how you can get there. It’s a plan.
Technology can get very complicated very quickly. But an IT roadmap starts with a few simple steps and principles.
In this post we’ll see how you can start creating an IT roadmap for your organization. We’ll look at:
- why you need an IT roadmap,
- what goes into it, and
- how you create one.
Why Do You Need an IT Roadmap?
There are two main reasons to create an IT roadmap:
A roadmap enables managers to organize and prioritize their organization’s needs, ideas, plans, goals, and resources into a high-level strategic plan. Such a plan will guide all your downstream decision making.
With a roadmap you can effectively communicate your strategic plan to your employees, partners, clients, investors, and anyone else who needs to know.
Experts agree that lack of communication is among the main causes of resistance to new technologies. Conversely, letting people know clearly what’s going on, how it will affect them, and what part they play in a rollout is among the best ways to earn buy-in from everyone involved.
In short, an IT roadmap helps you:
- identify your strategic objectives and plan for the future,
- align you align your apps, hardware, and services with these strategic objectives,
- get your entire organization on board, and
- avoid costly mistakes so you can move forward confidently.
What is an IT Roadmap Anyway?
An IT roadmap — sometimes called a “technology” or “application” roadmap — is a high-level plan for your organization’s technological future.
It’s different than a product roadmap, but may be related. A product roadmap illustrates how and when you develop new products for your customers. An IT roadmap lays out the software/hardware path you need to support your products.
“While a product roadmap is all about tracking your product features, improvements and strategy, IT roadmaps are all about strategizing the work that supports your product and organization,” according to Roadmunk, a roadmapping application (more on those later).
There are different kinds of IT roadmaps: software, hardware procurement, DevOps, infrastructure, and internal systems, to name just a few.
Your objective may be to get all of your teams on Office 365 or a new CRM (software), buy everyone new desktop computers or company smartphones (hardware), migrate your cloud computing to Azure (infrastructure), or install a new office phone system (internal).
What’s in a Roadmap?
Regardless of its specific purpose, a good roadmap needs to contain a few key elements:
- Objectives. Goals can be short- or long-term, but it’s essential to know what you want to accomplish.
- Milestones. Besides an endpoint to your timeline, it’s a good idea to set milestones. Stakeholders and participants can track the plan’s progress and get a morale boost from achieving successes along the way.
- People. The roadmap should name teams, leaders, and others who are involved.
- Risks. Obstacles both internal and external need to be identified in the roadmap, with a plan for overcoming them.
- Resources. Money is obviously the major item, but staff time, technology, and other resources may be necessary.
As with all endeavors, it’s easier if you have the right tools.
You can create an IT roadmap with something as simple as Microsoft Excel, but that’s hardly optimal. Some managers prefer presentation software because spreadsheets lack visual timelines.
Better than either spreadsheets or slideshows, project management apps like the popular Trello are web-based and easy for everyone to access in the cloud. They’re great for virtual collaboration: tracking the minutiae of tasks, assignments, and deadlines. However, they may have a calendar view but generally lack a means to present a strategy in ways others can see.
Best of all, however, is a dedicated roadmapping application. These make it easy to plan and communicate your plans in a compelling way visually. Unlike project management tools, they’re able to switch between a high-level strategic view (i.e. for presenting to executives) and detailed views for participants on the ground.
How to Create an IT Roadmap
Creating an IT roadmap is essentially a two-part endeavor: You assess where you are now, and plan where you want to be.
“In developing your roadmap, set your sights on a longer time horizon and consider what you will need to stay competitive over the next three to five years. Technology that is flexible, scalable and expandable enough to accommodate your long-term needs will help you get the most out of your investment,” writes Computer World.
In short, you define your functional needs and priorities, establish realistic timelines, assign roles, and figure out what it’s all going to cost.
To do that, good advice is to appoint an IT steering committee — if you don’t have something like that already.
An experienced managed IT services provider like PC Professional can provide invaluable guidance through the process. We’ve been helping companies and organizations plan their technological futures and upgrade their systems since the 1980s. Contact us today to learn how we can help your organization.