Many businesses don't know how to address this question with the appropriate depth and strategic thinking.
CEOs, executives, managers, and small business owners may know where they want to take their company, but may not have a clear idea of the IT decisions they'll need to make along the way.
Companies are also facing a plethora of technological changes that affect everything from marketing to cyber security, and they need to decide which tech solutions to adopt and how to prioritize them within their budget.
Without strategic IT planning, companies face various disadvantages:
- Wasted money on unneeded hardware and software.
- IT decisions that don't align with business needs and objectives.
- A lack of focus and organization, and an emphasis on short-term thinking.
- A failure to anticipate technological developments and their effects on the company.
- An inability to prioritize projects and expenditures that are most necessary at any given point.
- Poor communication between IT personnel and the rest of the company.
How can an IT road-map help?
Your company's IT road-map is a master plan for how you'll use technology to support your business operations and goals over the coming three to five years. The document clearly spells out your strategic IT planning, providing a detailed overview of the projects you wish to undertake and the decisions you're prioritizing.
Employees holding leadership positions in your company can use this document as a basis for discussing, planning, and guiding decisions. It's an excellent collaborative tool, ensuring that everyone is on the same page. It helps your IT personnel work closely with employees in other departments to make the decisions best suited for your company.
How can you create an IT road-map?
Creating the road-map will involve input from company leadership and from your IT team (which includes your managed services provider and any in-house personnel).
As for the content of the road-map, start by answering the following questions:
What are your company's top priorities? Make a list of the important goals and milestones you want to reach, and the ways in which you envision your company developing. Even though this list isn't specific to IT, but applies to your company more generally, it will give your IT road-map coherence and remind you of the purposes underlying various IT decisions.
What IT projects or major tasks do you wish to undertake in the coming months and years? Organize these into a timeline that includes estimated start and end points and other information about the resources required (e.g. budget and personnel, including the employees overseeing each project). You can also categorize the projects by different IT areas. For instance, one category can be anything pertaining to your network architecture, and the modifications you want to make to it; another area can involve your e-commerce platform and how you want to develop it and keep it secure.
What are your justifications for each project? Spelling out the specific reasons for each project will help you prioritize them, position them appropriately in the timeline, and identify projects that you may want to delay, modify, or scrap. Especially for projects scheduled in the coming year, the justifications should be well-developed and detailed. For example, if you're planning to adopt a new kind of software solution, you can include the estimated amount of money you expect to save or the predicted percent increase in efficiency.
Be sure to supplement the road-map with additional documentation, including a detailed, regularly updated inventory of your IT set-up and information about the users it supports. It's also important to document any problems that emerge; the solutions you come up with to deal with these problems can affect your IT road-map.
For additional advice and assistance, please contact us. A well-developed IT road-map is an integral part of your company's strategic planning, ensuring that your IT decisions fully support your company's growth and success.