Steps to Develop a Successful IT Roadmap

Relying on digital tools to reach your full business potential is no longer a whim or a fashionable add-on, it is mandatory for your survival. An IT roadmap is the narrative that matches your needs against the steps and tools that help you achieve your ultimate business goals. A smart IT roadmap needs to be informative, inspiring, and incremental. 

Roadmaps enable transformation

IT roadmaps are plans that aggregate the resources, the steps, and the timeline to implement a digital strategy across a business. An IT roadmap helps clarify how an implementation unfolds.

Setting up an IT roadmap requires an intense thought process, a thorough assessment of resources, and a clean benchmarking strategy. IT roadmaps are essential for businesses which aim at: 

  • Migrating from legacy IT infrastructure 
  • Upgrading their current software ecosystem 
  • Building a digital backend office   
  • Adopting a digital industry strategy 
  • Investing in system integration 

It is often claimed that IT transformation is disruptive. But why should it be disruptive? IT roadmaps done right make the transformation easy to understand, follow, and internalize, thus minimizing disruption. 

Roadmaps are built on skills

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Building an IT roadmap often requires the collaboration of several professionals across the organization and outside the organization. The same goes for the skills needed to design an IT roadmap from scratch: 

  • Behavioral discipline Identify business issues, architecture gaps, deficiencies, and improvements.   
  • Analytical discipline Identify added value, stakeholders, customer impact, and process enablement.
  • Tech discipline Identify products, hardware, software, and the know-how required to succeed further.
  • Management discipline Identify scope, action points, results, metrics, and risks to consider. 

Roadmaps are made of steps 

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To build a good roadmap, you need to analyze where you are and where you want to get to, and then morph this analysis into a plan. 

1. Exercise sincerity and identify your pain points 

Businesses think of transformation for many reasons:   

  • Old or legacy systems that cannot perform   
  • New systems that can boost the current system   
  • Customer platforms that are not integrated   
  • Business platforms that are not integrated   
  • Internal communications that are not digitized 
  • Industries that are not digitized

Whatever this reason may be, once you identify it correctly and clearly, you can choose the technology that can help you solve your problems. 

2. Draft a business strategy 

To cover all the elements of a good business strategy, make sure you take the following criteria into account. Analyze, adapt or refactor: 

  • The operating model to serve employees and customers better Design an operating model to capture the relationship among resources: technologies and budget, organizational structure and employees, processes and delivered value. 
  • The skill matrix to identify people gaps and investment needs Design a schema where you capture things like: level of competency, motivational factors, rewards, and training potential.   
  • The product outreach to pinpoint how the products can transform the market Create a map where current products are cross-compared in terms of their features and next-generation features: capabilities, value, user goals, and use-case scenarios.   
  • The business goals and their prioritization Match business goals against product and skill transformation. 

3. Draft a tech strategy 

Having a tech strategy means that you identify the hardware, software, and IT skills needed to transform your business digitally: 

  • The purchase of a turn-key solution and/or of customizable features 
  • Communication and team-enablement 
  • Information and asset management 
  • Automation 
  • Digital twin 
  • Cloud storage and processing 
  • Sensors and grids 
  • The investment in system integration 
  • Link different domains and business units via apps, databases or APIs 
  • Converge data streams, automatically detect duplicates, and normalize data structures
  • Handle Big Data   
  • Handle inbound data and triggers 
  • The refactoring of current architecture   
  • Databases and data structures   
  • Data sources 
  • Native and non-native applications 
  • APIs 

4. Design a multi-layered timeline 

The multi-layered timeline is the project management component of the IT roadmap where you synchronize and match: 

  • The business strategy, namely the new business goals 
  • The tech strategy, namely the new tech investments 
  • The delivery schedule 
  • The budget involved
  • The expected outcomes and the KPIs 

The timeline must clearly show: 

  • The resources, the people, and the initiatives involved in each step of the process   
  • The classification of all initiatives and how these are interlinked 
  • The project-based policy behind each initiative (meetings, progress checks, incremental refactoring) 

5. Put a mitigation plan in place 

Now that the plan clearly shows when and how each digital transformation step unfolds, it is high time you enrich the roadmap with a mitigation plan. Why? It is likely for things not to unravel according to plan, in which case you need a backup:   

  • Anticipate which steps might get delayed, and what other steps can be worked on in parallel in the meantime 
  • Identify which steps can be delayed, and what margins can the critical steps cross 
  • List the actions that can be taken to reduce risks 

6. Implement and monitor roadmap fulfilment 

When the implementation phase is ready for kick-off, make sure you stay on top of each milestone in your plan:   

  • Check the fulfillment of each business goal   
  • Check that the technology requirements do not have hidden defects 
  • Check that employees and customers embrace the change  
  • Check that the learning curve is not steep 
  • Check that the technology performs as expected 

Roadmaps accompany digital growth

Photo by Carlos Muza on Unsplash 

Roadmaps require a phased approach when setting up an implementation plan for any digital transformation. To come up with a solid roadmap, ensure that you: 

  • Sift through your current state of affairs and identify what needs to be improved   
  • Formulate clear business objectives and identify what you want to achieve 
  • Define a tech strategy and identify how you want to deliver your goals technically   
  • Create a plan and a timeline where match business goals with tech enablers and budget   
  • Add a risk mitigation component for each activity   
  • Implement the plan and monitor each milestone