by Chris Enstrom

Your technology roadmap: navigating to the destination

Apr 26, 2016
IT LeadershipSmall and Medium Business

Building and documenting a detailed plan of where you’re going and how you’re going to get there is essential to effectively implementing your IT investment decisions.

In my last post “3 and a half fundamentals of IT investment…,” we discussed focusing IT investment decisions on one of three basic business objectives: mitigate risk, manage growth and leverage new technology. Assuming you’ve make some general decisions on where to focus your budget, let’s run through some fundamental building blocks of your technology roadmap.

Outcomes – start with the end in mind

You may find it a bit counterintuitive to start your journey at the end. However, let’s think briefly about another type of road map.

Growing up, I used to love going on road trips with my family and friends. Packing up the car and hitting the black top offered a sense of freedom and adventure. Occasionally, we would run in to construction or bad weather. Other times, we would pass an interesting road side attraction. In both instances, we ended up delayed or had to take a detour – but in every journey we eventually ended up at our destination – because we knew where we wanted to go and we had a road map!

Your technology roadmap serves the same purpose. You need to be cognizant to the fact that you will get sidetracked – other issues will arise that pull your focus to other critical needs. Documenting the intended outcome and benefit of each investment decision and building a plan to achieve those outcomes will serve you well as you navigate to the destination.

Making decisions – who’s in charge of what

Even in small business, it’s important for everyone to understand who is ultimately accountable for making which decisions – or how your roadmap will be governed.

Getting back to the road trip analogy, everyone had a part to play in making decisions. Whether it was the car snacks, when to stop for a break or where to call it a day – it was clear who was in charge (usually Mom!). Everyone in the car had input, but in order to maintain a sense of clarity, someone ultimately needed to be that final say.

Governance can be counterintuitive to being agile and making decisions quickly. However, without a structured approach to decision-making, your technology roadmap could end up stuck in a dead end very quickly. It doesn’t have to be complex – it just has to be effective.

Design the organization – getting everyone in the right seat

Chances are that your plans for technology will have an impact on how work gets done in your organization. Technology is a great enabler – or so we’ve been told. In my experience, technology enables effectively only if you have everyone in the right seat on the bus.

When you embark on a road trip, everyone takes up a position in the vehicle. You have the driver, the navigator, the entertainer and a few passengers. From time to time, depending on where you’re at in the journey, the seats change. It may be because you’re in unfamiliar territory, or perhaps it’s because someone has ‘been here before.’ The important point here is that as you travel, you need to adapt.

To be effective in your implementation of technology, your organization needs to adapt as well. Designing the roles and responsibilities of your staff, understanding who will be impacted and how and managing the process implications is as important (if not more important) as the technology solution you are building.

Road trips are fun, exciting and from time-to-time a little stressful. Starting with the destination in mind, packing the right snacks and most importantly, finding the right travel companions make the journey worthwhile and successful. Build the foundation for success before you pull out of the driveway!