How often do you travel around your city of residence or within another country, relying on the information found on either a road map or a Google map? The definition of a road map is “a map of roads, and possibly other features, to aid in navigation”. Essentially a road map is a planning tool or a physical or digital reference to assist with direction. A technology road map is no different; it provides you with the framework to forecast expenditures and changes to your IT environment over a set period of time. So why is this important?
Alignment and budgeting
It is important for any business to align their IT priorities with the overall strategic direction of the business. A road map outlines key milestones over a set period of time which should align with the corporate strategy and will allow you to forecast expenditures so there are no surprises. This provides you, the business owner, with a proactive method of budgeting and a timeline of when change will be introduced into your environment. Most small business owners are reactive when it comes to IT planning and projects are generally implemented on an ad hoc basis. For a variety of reasons, cash-flow for example, the reactive approach to IT planning can be fatal and decisions are often rushed.
Goals and objectives
A technology road map clearly sets priorities and objectives and documents existing weaknesses within your technology environment. These weaknesses can be grouped by priority level and a set of technology solution recommendations can pave the way to achieve stability, resiliency, and improved performance. Let’s use IT asset lifecycle management as an example. Wouldn’t it be good to know when your equipment is coming out of warranty and how many workstations and or servers you should be replacing on an annual basis? A road map which includes asset lifecycle management will identify aging systems within your business and allow you to plan for their decommissioning. This will also allow you to achieve a standard operating environment over a 12- or 36-month period instead of the piecemeal approach to replacing IT assets as they fail. As you can imagine, being able to plan for the retirement of aging equipment before the equipment fails improves uptime and productivity, as you can phase out old hardware before it actually dies.
Just like a regular road map, an IT road map paints a picture of how you can get from point A to point B. Of course it doesn’t account for certain things that may arise in between, however, it provides you with an indication of how much time it’s going to take to get there, how much it might cost, and the best direction to take if you want to get there as quick as possible. With IT providing the foundation for most organizations, aligning IT priorities with business objectives will accelerate business growth and ensure success. Adopting a proactive planning approach to your IT environment will almost guarantee that you’re one step ahead of your competition as the majority of small businesses are reactive when it comes to the state and direction of their IT infrastructure.