When sitting down to write your information technology roadmap, you need a plan of attack. Traditionally, the roadmapping process is defined by three core phases: Preliminary, Development, and Follow-up Activity. But truly, this process can be broken up even further into six core phases. Taking this incremental approach will provide that much more structure to your roadmapping process and keep you organized as you develop your strategy.
Six Phases to an Information Technology Roadmap
Phase 1: Identify Goals
The first phase to any information technology roadmap is to identify your goals. Roadmaps are about planning, scheduling, and orchestrating change in your IT environment. To do that effectively, you have to have a clearly defined end destination. With the end point noted, you can more easily chart the most efficient path to meeting your goal.
Phase 2: Account for Innovation
While your business is executing its roadmap, the rest of the world is not going to stand still. A roadmap that stretches too long or ignores industry innovation is not going to account for the technological developments happening every day. You don’t want to reach the end of your roadmap only to find yourself behind.
Follow thought leaders in your industry and try to get a sense of where your industry or technology is headed in the next few years. On some level this will be speculative, but roadmaps aren’t written in stone. They must be reassessed as factors change.
Phase 3: Identify Stages and Arrange Priorities
In this exercise, we are breaking up the information technology roadmapping process into incremental stages. In much the same way, executing the roadmap is about completing smaller tasks to achieve a larger goal. Identify those incremental stages for your roadmap and arrange them in order of priority. Some tasks will be required before beginning other projects and other tasks will provide immediate value to the business. Make sure your hierarchy works to your benefit instead of creating more obstacles.
Phase 4: Cost Analysis and Review
Up until this point, your roadmap has been a wish list, but finances make the final decisions in every business. However, it is important to wait until Phase 4 before factoring in the actual costs of your roadmap. Otherwise, you may artificially limit your scope or strategy for fear of going over budget.
Now, reality can set in. Calculate your estimated costs and revisit your stages and priorities. Is this still feasible? If not, adjust as necessary.
Phase 5: Timelines
You know what you need to do, and you know what it will cost. It is time to factor in time. Put all of your stages on a timeline. German military strategist, Helmuth von Moltke famously said that “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.” In this context, it means that your timelines may not go according to plan, but von Moltke never said don’t plan at all. Recognize that these timelines are flexible. Plan for the best and prepare for the worst.
Phase 6: Assign Personnel
The last phase of your information technology roadmapping process is to assign team members to the various stages outlined in Phase 3. This will provide accountability to your team and identify common oversight in the roadmapping process. If you don’t have the right skills on staff to complete a stage, another plan needs to be devised. If necessary, add new stages like, “research 3rd party vendor” or “hire network admin” to the roadmap at the appropriate time.
See the Roadblocks before You Reach Them
The entire point of the technology roadmapping exercise is to anticipate complications in your IT department before they occur. A thorough roadmap could mean the difference between a well-executed deployment and a serious blunder. For that reason, it is imperative that IT departments learn how to create an effective and realistic roadmap.
Download Mindsight’s free guide, The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Technology Roadmap, to gain our expert insight on the roadmapping process. There are lessons to learn and pitfalls to avoid, but the rewards are there for the taking.
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