In the 1700’s, Benjamin Franklin had already figured it out: “If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail.”
As each organization should have business plans and goals, organizations of every size and industry should have roadmaps that guide them to their desired future. A roadmap is a tangible, detailed outline of the steps that need to be taken in order to get to where you want to go.
Broken down a level further, departments should have their own roadmaps that act as guiding plans and keep them on-track. Department roadmaps should align with the organization’s overall business goals, being a vehicle for bringing the organization closer to their overall goals.
With the constant changing and evolving, IT is a department that should have its own roadmap. The roadmap will keep your team focused on initiatives, steered in the right direction, and accountable to the goals. The roadmap will also help get executive buy in and budget approval, eliminating unexpected expenses and planning for investments in new technology.
WHAT IS AN IT ROADMAP?
Your IT roadmap should be three things:
- An assessment of your current environment, identifying gaps and mitigating risks
- A high-level strategic document, thoughtfully laying out the next 18-36 months
- A tactical technology plan with associated budgets and timelines
WHAT DOES AN IT ROADMAP CONSIST OF?
When creating your IT roadmap, think strategically. Think about the short term and the long term. Where is your organization headed, how does technology play into that future picture, and what steps do you need to take to get there?
Here is a basic framework of areas that should be included:
Knowing where you’re going begins with knowing where you are. In this section, assess your organization’s current people, processes and technologies.
- Who is currently on your IT team?
- What is each person’s specialty?
- Where does your team have gaps (specific areas like virtualization or networking?). What’s the short-term and long-term plan to fill those gaps?
- Is your team getting the support and training they need to do their job well?
- What is your organization’s disaster recovery plan?
- How would your organization respond to a data breach?
- How does your department handle new hires and terminations?
- How often do you train your staff on regulatory guidelines like HIPAA or PCI?
- Current Technology
- Inventory your organization’s workstations, servers, and storage capacities.
- Intimately understand your networking infrastructure, including firewalls, routers, switches, WAPs, and telecom agreements.
- What ancillary equipment connects to your network that may not be under your organization’s control?
- What is the current BYOD policy, and what security gaps exist?
- Strategic Initiatives
Try not to get too far in the weeds in your IT roadmap. For each goal or initiative that your department has, identify how it plays into your overall organization’s goals.
- Future Technology Plans
Based on an assessment of your current technology, develop a plan for addressing gaps. This will help to better position your organization for the future and mitigate risk and vulnerability.
- Strategic Initiatives
Each item in your roadmap should have an associated cost. Even if it’s just an estimated amount, it’ll help your organization plan for large expenses.
When budgeting, consider how these purchases will affect the organization’s balance sheet. Would operating expenses be better for the organization than capital expenses? How can large purchases be financed over time? What time of year is best for these purchases?
Incorporating a timeline is vital in building consensus and understanding in your organization. Your IT department will appreciate being able to see what projects are coming, what the expectations are as far as completion and what human resources will be dedicated.
Albert Einstein once said, “If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes defining the problem and 5 minutes solving it.”
Having a roadmap that guides your department, reminds your team of their end goals, and already has executive buy-in and budget approval will remove so many of the barriers that IT leaders face daily.
Plan your work, then work your plan.