The Value of the Roadmap

Since making the transition to consulting from technology leadership roles, I am constantly surprised at how many organizations have not documented and agreed upon a technology roadmap, yet have spent enormous amounts of money and time purchasing licensing, hardware, and applications. This usually leads to an environment with overlapping products, features that are never deployed, and a level of complexity that makes it inflexible and hard to manage. With some planning up front, the technology team can deliver better results more easily and ready for the future. 

Roadmaps are Critical 

A roadmap is critical to create alignment across the organization’s goals, executive management’s priorities, and the technology team. It needs to address and communicate the following:

  • Business problems that technology will solve
  • Costs that can be optimized
  • Risks that can be reduced
  • How the organization’s technical needs will be met in the future

Essentials of a Roadmap

A well-crafted roadmap should:

  • Address the “must do” items, such as information, security, availability, accessibility, and compliance
  • Provide a realistic path to resolve technical debt and prevent it going forward.
  • Drive the prioritization of all the “should do” items, because you will always have more of those than you can possibly execute on.
  • Drive the budget and technology investment in people, partners, services, licensing, training, and capital expenditures.  (I wrote about this topic previously here.) 
  • Keep the leadership team involved and current on the systems that are running the business, especially since this is a topic that is often not well understood.
  • Provide the technology group a “north star” to navigate toward, measure against, and guide decision making.  (Also use it to deflect the new and shiny objects that people see at the latest trade show….) 

How to Create a Roadmap

So, how do you create this? It requires an objective review of where you are today, where you want to be, and the expertise to get there.

Step One: Evaluate the current state of things (Good and Bad)

  • An organization-wide review of how well the technology environment is making it easier for people to accomplish the organization’s goals.
  • A gap analysis of your current technology team and environment, including platforms, applications, and the current budget:
    • An information and operational risk assessment – do you know what risks you have, and are they being mitigated appropriately?
    • A financial assessment – is the budget realistic to accomplish the goals, and is the money being spent efficiently?
    • Does the technology team have the right structure and skills?
    • Are identities, devices, and data secure? 
    • Do your productivity and collaboration tools make it easy for people to get things done?
    • Is your infrastructure reliable and performant? 
    • Are your enterprise and line-of-business applications secure, integrated, and driving productivity? 
    • Do people spend considerable time on manual tasks or finding information?



Step Two: Use the evaluation to build the path and determine the requirements

  • Decide what systems need to be either kept or replaced.
    • Use vendor partners to help you determine what products or platforms will best meet your future needs. Most organizations decide that integrated cloud solution “ecosystems” provide the best opportunity to address requirements and close the gaps.
  • Select and scope an ecosystem that provides the most of what you need – and take a holistic view.
    • Stay away from the best-of-breed vs. best-in-class debate if you can. Keep in mind that integrated solutions are generally less expensive, easier to implement, and easier for people to adopt than a disparate collection of the “best” point solutions. The sum of the ecosystem approach is greater than its parts.
  • Partner up with the stakeholders and create a prioritized project list. 
    • Most importantly – Leverage the ecosystem! Close as many gaps as you can with integrated suites of tools and get the most out of subscription costs. 
    • The first projects on the list will be the “must do” items but try to carve out at least some time for “should do” items.
    • As time goes on, you will be able to put more focus on the “should do” ideas, but you will always have some from both categories.
  • Develop a realistic budget and timeline
    • Work with your vendor partners to build these out. They have done this many times before and understand what is realistic and reasonable.
    • Remember that the organization’s ability to absorb change and adopt new systems may be a more limiting factor than cost. 
    • Moving to cloud solutions and migrating data does typically require more resources and cost up front. Again, your vendor partners can help you understand the value in the long term.
    • Don’t forget to include communication, training, and adoption funding. Guiding people through changes is critical to success.

Step Three: Execute and Communicate!

  • Determine which executives (outside of technology) will be the advocates and executive sponsors to drive communication and adoption. (This should include some senior executives.)
  • Create and execute an adoption and organizational change management plan. Again, partner vendors can really help with this while the IT group focuses on the technical work.
  • Start making your changes and migrating data, making sure that everyone is being brought along on the journey. Identify and lean on the people that embrace change to help bring their colleagues with them. 
  • Develop metrics and measure your progress. This is critical.
    • Is the roadmap progress and the underlying projects being completed on time, on budget, and well-adopted? 
    • Has time been saved, and have risks or costs been reduced as expected?
    • Solicit regular user feedback. Quick feedback methods like a net promoter score and encouraging open and honest feedback from stakeholders is critical. 
  • Develop a review process and have the stakeholders come together to review and update the plan a few times throughout the year.  This keeps it top of mind and allows the organization to pivot as needed. 

Our team of experts help clients with technology roadmap development all the time. Having someone provide an objective look at your environment with a structured methodology is valuable and brings a much broader perspective to analysis and planning.

Need guidance on getting your team on board? We can also help drive the message home to decision makers and provide the helping hands to get everyone through the journey. Contact our team of experts today to get started on your roadmap!

Tom Papahronis

Tom Papahronis

Strategic Advisor - Enabling Technologies

Last updated on July 25th, 2023 at 07:47 pm