How to Create an IT Strategy Roadmap
27 September 2021
In today’s digital world, it is more important than ever for businesses to take advantage of the opportunities that an effective IT system can provide. Unfortunately, there are far too many small and medium-sized businesses who find themselves lagging behind, either because they feel like they don’t have the resources of larger companies or because they lack a clear IT strategy that will help them stay competitive. An effective IT strategy roadmap will help you to implement the technological solutions which will help your business right now, as well as laying down the foundations for a bright future.
In this article, we will explain six easy steps to planning an effective IT strategy roadmap that will help your business to succeed for years to come.
1. Identify Your Business Objectives
In order to plan any roadmap, you first need to decide where you are going. In terms of your business, this means identifying your objectives. These are the things that have been identified as priorities for improving or maintaining your business growth in a digital environment. A good starting point is to look at where you want to be in three years’ time and work back from there, building an IT strategy roadmap around these key goals so that they can be achieved by this date.
As well as overarching objectives, it’s also important to identify specific functional needs which must be met in order for you to achieve these larger aims. For example, if your goal is to follow in the footsteps of the two thirds of British businesses now offering employees the choice of working from home, then you will need to ensure that you have a reliable and up-to-date mobile device infrastructure.
2. Look to the Future
The next step is to set your company up for the future by anticipating which technologies will likely appear over the next three years and how they could benefit your business strategy. Some businesses find success through ‘playing it safe’ with tried and trusted IT systems that function well but don’t offer much scope for innovation, while others take more risks by investing heavily in new technologies early on before they become mainstream.
The right approach varies from business to business and should be determined by the kind of risks you are comfortable taking, your available resources for investment (both human and capital), as well as a good knowledge of what is currently out there.
There are some new technologies that transform the landscape instantly and so it is vital that businesses embrace them straight away. For example, there is no doubt that Cloud technology will continue to grow over the coming years with public cloud service revenues expected to reach £350 million by 2022. This means that your business will find it more affordable than ever before to store your data off-site instead of on company servers which require maintenance and specialist software licenses.
3. Identify Your Needs
The third step of your IT strategy roadmap is to define functional needs based on your current business processes and requirements. This requires you to consider which IT solutions will help you most in terms of your previously outlined organizational goals, with a focus on specific processes or job roles.
For example, if you have an engineering firm, you may need data analysis tools to help with your product design. On the other hand, if you run a law firm, you may benefit from document management software designed specifically for legal teams.
Focusing resources on these kinds of applications can be much more productive than trying to invest in several technologies at once because it will ensure that your employees are able to work effectively without unnecessary distractions or delays caused by ineffective systems.
4. Calculate Your Budget
Small businesses spend an average of 6.9% of their budgets on IT services and solutions, but before your business starts investing, it’s important to conduct a thorough cost analysis to determine whether the money is being invested wisely. For example, if your IT road map includes plans for remote working then you need to work out exactly how much each employee will save by not having to commute into the office every day. You can then use that as an estimate of how long it will take before purchasing remote work devices and software becomes profitable.
When working out how much money you will need to spend, you will need to keep in mind any additional costs that may not be apparent at first glance. For example, if you have a new IT project planned then it’s advisable to budget for any training which will need to take place so that employees are able to work effectively with the technology from day one of your investment.
The best way to avoid unexpected charges or hidden extras is to research all possible options carefully before committing yourself fully. This means taking the time to speak with other businesses who have similar systems in place so that you can receive first-hand accounts of what works well and what doesn’t.
5. Work Out How Long You Need
After you’ve established your budget, the next step is to establish realistic timelines for implementation. This will be largely dependent on the size of your business, how many employees it has, and which technologies and solutions are being implemented.
For example, if you have a team dedicated to IT then you should be able to roll out changes quickly without much disruption because everyone will already know their roles within the new systems. However, if this isn’t an option for your business, there may need to be some training or job rotation in order to ensure that everybody can work effectively with any new processes before they are officially rolled out. Another important factor here is whether your existing hardware needs replacing or not, as buying everything new could significantly slow down progress whereas upgrading in place may only require a few minor changes.
The key is to be realistic about how much time and effort each change will take before committing so that you can get the best possible results from your roadmap without wasting any time or money on unnecessary processes.
6. Appoint the Right People
In order to implement your IT road map, it’s crucial that every step of your road map has an appointed team leader responsible for ensuring budgets are adhered to and progress reports are filed regularly. These team leaders should report directly back to whoever has ultimate responsibility and oversight of every stage of the development process.
This way there is always one single point of contact if anything goes wrong so that those in charge of the road map don’t have to speak with multiple people before finding somebody who can help. This is a much easier way of ensuring that you remain on track from start to finish without any major setbacks or delays along the way!
It is important that even as you follow these six steps, your IT strategy roadmap remains flexible enough to adapt as your business grows or if you encounter new opportunities for improvement. This means avoiding making big investments into specific technologies which are likely to become outdated before they even provide a return on investment. Before investing in anything, check, double-check, and triple-check the market, to make sure there is not a better option either already available or on the horizon.