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IT roadmap for digital transformation

Going digital is more than just giving your business a new round of polish, but rather reconsidering your velocity, your visibility, and your customer outreach. 

Purpose of a roadmap

A digital roadmap is a means of defining and managing a digital transformation effort. When you go digital, you expose yourself to the world and you make a statement about what you are good at. It’s important that you get it right, that you stand out, that your effort is recognized.

A digital roadmap lends structure to your business initiatives, and maps your goals onto the work required to achieve those goals. 

Before you can work out a digital roadmap, you must: 

  1. Assess your digital maturity level.    
  2. Define a vision of your digital self. 
  3. Identify the gaps that prevent you from fulfilling your vision. 

These prerequisites, help you build a good roadmap which will: 

  • Clarify the start and end point of your digital journey.
  • State your stakeholders, the staff and skill set you need. 
  • Coordinate and align the department and business units that must get involved. 
  • Establish what needs to change in terms of infrastructure, software, and behavior. 

A digital roadmap shapes the way you reinvent your business from ad-hoc decisions to managed and optimized ones. 

Elements of a roadmap

Roadmaps help you grasp information visually, plot actionable steps against a timeline, and digest numbers easily. A digital roadmap is as much about data visualization, as it is about change management. As a result, any digital roadmap will be the sum of several layers which will intersect or run in parallel. 

  • Technology layer       
  • Create a list of the required hardware or the required infrastructure. ·        
  • Create a list of the required software. 
  • Product and Services layer        
  • Create a list of all the deliverables that digital transformation will produce.         
  • Map each deliverable onto their associated business goals.          
  • Map each business goal onto a specific interaction (staff related, customer related). 
  • Information layer       
  • Define how information will be accessed internally (by staff) and externally (by customers).     
  • Define how information will be governed and managed.
  • Management layer          
  • Define user roles and responsibilities.       
  • Define role hierarchy. 
  • Process and Workflow layer        
  • Define feature readiness and user validation.         
  • Define approval gateways. 
  • Deployment layer      
  • Define release schedules.         
  • Define the deliverables in each release package.
  • Human Resources layer      
  • Set the number of people required for the implementation. 
  • Correlate people – roles – skill sets – cross-team interaction.
  • Budget layer  
  • State existing budget and margins.     
  • Create a back-up plan for exceeding the budget. 

Challenges to a roadmap 

Given the many layers of a roadmap, the challenges in coordinating, sequencing, and holding everything in order are the rule rather than the exception.

A successful digital roadmap may be blocked by insufficient: 

  • Involvement in or understanding of the vision   
  • Commitment to make things happen 
  • Drive towards innovation 
  • Collaboration among teams 
  • Clarity in responsibilities 
  • Orchestration from management 

Planning for a roadmap

So how do we set out on assembling a working digital roadmap? 

  1. Do your internal research.   
  • Understand your current status-quo, your infrastructure, your software, your limitations, your assets.
  • Define how you want to expand your capabilities.
  • Establish how much you want to invest and over what period of time.
  • Identify the human resources you need to make the vision come true. 

2. Do your external research. 

  • Check out how other digital transformation projects unfolded. 
  • Decide whether you can kick of the digital transformation project in-house or whether you want to externalize it. 
  • Acknowledge industry-specific best practices. 

3. Define your goals. 

  • Write down your goals and the means to achieve them. 
  • Identify how going digital will blend in with your current state of affairs. 

4. Map your goals onto technology and deliverables.

  • Break down your goals and match them with implementation phases, human resources involved, technology involved, effort and time.   
  • Draw risk assessments for all your goals. 
  • Match each goal against a low budget and a high budget. 

5. Draw a budget. 

  • Sum up the budget for all your goals for both the low and high budget scenarios.  
  • Make the necessary tradeoffs and decide which goal requires a higher budget.

6. Define processes and workflows. 

  • Draw rules: the duration of each work increment, the expected result, the definition of ready, the approval workflow, the number of people in each team, the contexts which can trigger exceptions to the rules. 
  • Define the roles and responsibilities of each team member.

7. Onboard the right Human resources.

  • Familiarize the team with the overall plan and with the specifics of each team’s work. 
  • Describe the tools that will be used for interaction, development, deployment.
  • Allow time for embrio PoCs (proof of concept) to test the interaction among teams and adjust.

8. Implement, release, and adjust. 

Each milestone comes with challenges, but it is important to clearly acknowledge the importance of analyzing the status quo and of identifying what you want to achieve. Getting this right will save you a lot of back and forth between you and the people implementing the vision.

Identify all your internal resources and how they can contribute to your vision instead of looking exclusively outside your organization.

Make the project transparent and encourage ownership. A successful project is more than just completing each milestone in a given plan. Commitment is key, so make all the people involved enthusiastic about your plan and its results. Explain why and how the Digital Transformation project will benefit customers and employees alike. 

If you want to read more about why IT roadmapping matters, check out one of our articles about it.

Going digital

An IT roadmap can structure the vision and innovation you want to commit to.

Build an IT roadmap to reinvent your business and to make it future proof and future scalable:   

  • Invest in the technology (hardware, software) that can help your business run smoothly: internal processes, time to market, customer satisfaction, and deployment ease.
  • Nurture the digital skills that can boost productivity: 365-communication, smart development, data and insight analysis. 
  • Invest in outstanding customer experience and the infrastructure which backs it up. Make business forecasts based on that experience.