If you find yourself wondering, “What is an IT roadmap?” and whether you need one, here is a simple scenario. Imagine that you are a wanderer venturing into new territory. Naturally, you need a map to figure out where you are, where you’re heading, and where you’ve come from. So, an IT strategy roadmap is just that: a reference for companies to check where they’re at.
For functional leaders, managers, and stakeholders, it is often a go-to tool for developing a successful tech strategy and implementing it. Why? Because it helps them monitor the status of the ongoing and scheduled IT processes and plan accordingly. An enterprise IT roadmap gives the management team a clear understanding of what they want to achieve, as well as what they possess and lack to do it. However, first things must come first, so let’s start.
What are the objectives and benefits?
Broadly speaking, an information technology roadmap keeps all the involved business units and stakeholders on the same page. How? It:
- Aligns the development or adoption of technological products with general business goals and shows the value of these solutions for the company’s objectives
- Empowers strategic planning capabilities for functional leadership
- Helps executives make informed investment and administrative decisions by highlighting the benefits of the implemented solutions
- Provides a comprehensive overview of work in progress, resource estimates, impact on internal processes, and timelines. This way, all teams involved know what to expect and when
- Facilitates risk assessment and management, and unleashes weak points
- Helps your IT department audit the existing infrastructure and plan necessary improvements
- Reduces costs by highlighting all the unnecessary technologies that can be safely sunsetted
A roadmap is crucial for effective digital transformation. But how do you create such a powerful tool? What exactly should you include? Continue reading to get all the answers.
IT enterprise strategy and roadmap: how do you connect them to each other?
We want to start by saying that there is no such thing as a universal strategy. Most likely, you will have an enterprise-wide strategic IT roadmap reflecting your business priorities and then some smaller plans for each department and team. No matter at what level you’re going to operate, be sure to include the following important components:
1. Set your goals
To understand what you are striving to achieve in both short- and long-term perspectives, you need to list specific, measurable, and time-based goals. They may be as follows:
- Implement enterprise-wide process automation
- Migrate digital assets to the cloud
- Deploy new cybersecurity measures
- Upgrade or expand infrastructure
- Develop and deploy new software solutions
Often, goals imply new capabilities a business may gain by adopting or developing a technological solution.
2. Decide on functionality
We don’t recommend integrating or sunsetting technologies without clearly understanding how they influence your goals. Instead of blindly following market requirements, post-pandemic trends, or similar generic reasons, ask yourself:
- What new capabilities should the business get to achieve its goals?
- How can these capabilities be gained?
- What specific steps should be taken?
Once you know what solutions you need to implement, you can start planning specific functionality and features. Use your enterprise IT roadmap to display the actions required to build and deploy this functionality.
3. Estimate your available resources
Next, you need to make sure you have all the human, material, and financial resources for this.
When it comes to people, projects often require synchronous operation of multiple teams and coordination of efforts becomes crucial. In some cases, enterprises need to recruit new experts or launch training programs for the workforce to acquire necessary skills. In any case, your enterprise IT roadmap should reflect how many of the qualified human resources you already have and lack.
Material resources include important hardware, gadgets, software, and other equipment you possess. Financial resources, in their turn, are represented by the project budget, often defined by a sponsor before launch.
Including these figures into an enterprise IT roadmap allows all the participants to take an unbiased look at their capabilities and plan the initiative accordingly.
4. Define roles and responsibilities
For effective coordination and management, everyone involved in the process must know who is doing what. Begin by identifying the following:
- Executive stakeholder(s)
- Product owner(s)
- Project manager(s)
- Developer representative(s)
Make sure to cover the cross-functional dependencies between different teams. There is no need for your enterprise IT roadmap to replicate your project plan. Instead, outline focus areas, tasks, and activities on a high level.
5. Schedule release dates and milestones
When you know what should be done and who is responsible for this, you can translate this knowledge into a series of releases aligned with objectives. Create a timeline and be sure to communicate it to all the parties involved. By doing this, you will reduce your time to value and put your business strategy into practice faster.
Also, we advise setting milestones—short- and mid-term accomplishments linked to specific dates. They indicate certain process stages and help stakeholders evaluate their progress towards goal achievement. You can think of these milestones as road signs showing the direction your IT initiative is moving in.
6. Identify risks and bottlenecks
Another essential element your enterprise IT map should contain is the list of current and potential barriers that might prevent you from reaching your milestones. For example, this list can include:
- Legacy systems that require modernization
- Infrastructure issues
- Security vulnerabilities
- Resource limitations
- Hindered decision-making, and more
This step allows you to react and deal with existing bottlenecks immediately. Meanwhile, other restraints may require proactive measures to prevent any negative consequences and delays.
7. Provide status updates
To plan and prioritize tasks and objectives correctly, business units need to know the status of other teams’ works-in-progress. We recommend sharing the latest version of your IT roadmap regularly or updating it in real-time. Finally, keeping everyone on the same page is the primary goal of any strategic outline.
8. Use visualization tools
There are many free and paid product roadmap software tools designed exclusively to help you build clear IT plans, including Airfocus, Wrike, Craft.io, Productboard, and more. Their functionality allows you to visualize goals and metrics for all involved parties, create map legends for enhanced navigation, prioritize tasks and features, track progress, and share updates across multiple teams simultaneously.
Indeed, roadmapping tools are not a must-have for all teams and products. However, they can make your job easier by increasing project transparency, improving productivity, and facilitating communication. Choosing the right tool for your team, pay attention to the set of features, and make sure that the selected product provides it all.
An enterprise IT roadmap is a great way to understand how your daily operations and projects align with overall business goals and objectives. It provides regular work updates, ensuring process transparency and keeping all project teams on the same page. This results in more accurate investments, more effective prioritization and management decisions, adequate risk assessment, and cost-efficiency.
Although there is no universal IT roadmap template, there are several essential elements any map should contain. For instance, we recommend listing goals and improvement opportunities, providing resource estimates, and defining roles and responsibilities for each project. An enterprise IT roadmap should also include risk assessment, planned releases, and the main milestones on the way to achieving your business goals.