Updated November 19, 2019
*Originally Published June 28, 2016
A truth in our industry is that technology is always changing. Consider how quickly consumers have adapted to using the Internet of Things – Alexas, Google Homes, Nest thermostats, Ring doorbells – or how swift the evolution of data center architecture, from converged infrastructure to HCI and now disaggregated HCI (dHCI) has taken place.
It is up to IT leaders – Directors, CIOs, and CTOs – to adapt to this volatility and remain competitive within the industry. Technology roadmaps help IT leaders plan for the future, flex with changes in the tech landscape, and avoid crises along the way.
Our experts have found there are three primary frameworks for technology roadmaps that assist IT leaders in planning for specific aspects of their businesses’ environments: Product Roadmaps, Services and Capabilities Roadmaps, and Strategic Planning Roadmaps.
If you haven’t yet downloaded our guide – The Ultimate Guide To Creating A Technology Roadmap – now’s your chance.
How To Design A Technology Roadmap
As you design your roadmap, use one (or more) of these three frameworks to design your technology investments strategically.
Businesses need their products and services to function, and technology helps them to do this. The Product Roadmap places any product releases, updates, or changes on a timeline for the upcoming year- these are considered product events.
Below the timeline, the roadmap cites any technologies that must be updated or replaced in order to facilitate these events. By mapping in this way, the IT team can ensure they are prepared for product events that affect the entire company.
In addition, the IT team is can now coordinate internal initiatives, so they do not interfere with a product event.
Services and Capabilities Roadmap
The Services and Roadmap is similar to the Product Roadmap; however, services require a few extra layers. For example, technology may have very little to do with a janitorial team cleaning an office building. However, a client’s ability to schedule a cleaning service online directly impacts the success of the company.
In this scenario, the janitorial team may not receive a clients’ request from the online service request that usually sends a message via a collaboration tool. The request does not go through since the collaboration tool is being patched. In turn, the company has an unhappy client with very dirty floors.
It is vital that IT leaders align technology to capabilities, these capabilities to services, and these services to product events.
IT leaders know that to be successful they need to set goals and build a vision. That’s where the Strategic Planning Roadmap comes into play. The Strategic Planning roadmap is framed to help you set, track, and achieve your strategic technology goals.
During Strategic Planning Roadmaps, leaders might ask:
- Where should our IT environment be next year?
- What initiatives do we need to engage in to be competitive?
- What are our customers asking for? Can we give it to them?
Chart your actual situation on one end. On the other, list where you would like that technology area to be. In between, plan steps and events that must occur in order to reach your goal.
A Strategic Planning Roadmap is the most difficult because oftentimes there are in-between steps you will not identify yet. That’s where the process-driven planning Mindsight has spent over a decade gathering comes in. Mindsight’s experts know how to get your business from current reality to your vision – and avoid pitfalls along the way.
Fleshing Out Your Technology Roadmap
Diagramming a roadmap is fairly easy. To properly design the future of the IT department, you must also flesh out the details of the plan. While some elements of the roadmap may seem obvious, the exercise of writing them out and justifying each step will organize your thoughts and inspire new strategies for success.
Strategy Statement: A general statement of the department’s overall strategy should be referenced before each additional step is mapped. If the timeline does not align with the overall strategy, one will have to change to match the other.
Prioritization: Detailed prioritization can be difficult to convey on a map. Write out which projects, technologies, or products are most crucial and at what times.
Justification: Everything the department does must happen for a reason. Justify each project. Once complete, compare your justifications to priorities and confirm they are in the proper order.
Cost and Duration: Excess costs and delays are common, but estimated costs and durations will help you budget for the future and get buy-in today.
Personnel: Each project should have assigned team members* long in advance. By being transparent with the plan, the team can budget their own time in preparation for upcoming projects.
*Note: It is important to identify how skill alignments may impact your overall planning. Moving applications to AWS but only have in-house Azure certifications? Attempting to deploy network security protocols but no expert?
That’s when it becomes useful to augment your team with an MSP – like Mindsight.
The Importance Of A Roadmap
President Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, “In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” Things are going to change throughout the year, and it is impossible to predict what twists and turns lie ahead.
However, a technology roadmap does provide a tentative plan that can be adjusted as the year progresses and more realistic timelines are finalized. It forces the IT team to take a bird’s eye view of the IT environment today and where they’d like to be in the future. It is easy to lose sight of objectives when the team’s focus is devoted to immediate problems. The roadmap allows you to take a step back and describe what you see.
Mindsight Can Help
Working with a partner is indispensable when taking on new strategic initiatives. With an MSP at your side, you have access to remote monitoring, expert ethical hackers, complete environment management, and everything in between. The expert-level-only engineers at Mindsight can handle the day-to-day operations in your environment, while you focus on high-level strategy.
Like what you read?
Contact us today to discuss how we can help you design and deploy a technology roadmap.
Mindsight, a Chicago IT services provider, is an extension of your team. Our culture is built on transparency and trust, and our team is made up of extraordinary people – the kinds of people you would hire. We have one of the largest expert-level engineering teams delivering the full spectrum of IT services and solutions, from cloud to infrastructure, collaboration to contact center. Our customers rely on our thought leadership, responsiveness, and dedication to solving their toughest technology challenges.
About The Author
Siobhan Climer, Science and Technology Writer for Mindsight, writes about technology trends in education, healthcare, and business. She writes extensively about cybersecurity, disaster recovery, cloud services, backups, data storage, network infrastructure, and the contact center. When she’s not writing tech, she’s reading and writing fantasy, gardening, and exploring the world with her twin daughters. Find her on twitter @techtalksio.