There is a general belief amongst owners and operators of small and mid-sized companies, that technology can help their business but they are typically overwhelmed with the number of choices. For many this leads to fear of making the wrong decision and a feeling of increased business and personal risk as a result. Exacerbating this problem is the fact that those companies that understand and have executed on a technology solution for their business, lead their industries by a wide margin over those who have yet to begin or are just starting out. Waiting to make decisions on technology is therefore no longer an option. The challenge is how to choose the right technology solutions for your business within the constraints of time and money.
To address these challenges and to provide guidance to business owners, a definitive approach to building a technology roadmap Is essential. Utilizing a flexible framework consistently and keeping the business objectives in mind will enable businesses to maximize value from IT investment.
The 8-Step approach to leverage technology for growth eliminates the complexity of the strategy component but incorporates the critical execution components including:
- Alignment to your business objectives
- Timing of roadmap components
- A definitive implementation plan focused on measurable outcomes.
The outcome of using this approach is a definitive and structured plan for those solutions which are aligned with your business goals. Furthermore, it incorporates the timing and success measures to each component of the roadmap.
The Eight Steps
Document your Business Goals
The first step in any planning process is to document the goals you want to achieve in your business. This guides your technology decisions and the investment priorities when it comes to implementing solutions.
Assess the Current State
The next step is to document where your business is presently. This serves as your starting point for your roadmap. Assessing your current situation is an important step in building the roadmap – it is challenging to begin a journey without first knowing your starting point.
Current Technology Footprint
Next take an inventory of the technology in your business today. Thinking about this exercise in terms of your value chain or operations processes will assist in ensuring a complete list. The final step in the current state assessment is evaluating priorities of where to start your Technology Roadmap. The purpose of this part of the exercise is to identify and target those areas that address your goals and align with their respective time horizon.
Closing the Gap – Scoping Your Roadmap
The focus now shifts to determining your priorities and beginning the exercise of building out your Technology Roadmap. Assessing the gaps between where you are today and where you want to get to, defines the scope of work for your Technology Roadmap. Start with your 3-year goals and evaluate honestly what steps are necessary to achieve those goals. Continue this activity by working backwards from your 3-year goals to the present, then plot your in-progress and planned technology solutions on your Roadmap. Continuously review your goals and repeatedly ask yourself – “how does this help my business move towards my vision for the future.”
Prioritizing Your Roadmap
With your draft Roadmap completed, the next set of steps looks to prioritize, determine the timing of work and validate the expected outcomes of executing the Roadmap. Going through this exercise from highest to lowest ranked item provides you with a list of technology priorities that you can now address on your technology timeline.
Now it is time to create your technology action plan to achieve your business goals. This next phase produces your plan to execute the Technology Roadmap. As you progress through your Roadmap and flush out the details, spend more time on the first 6 (or 12 months) and less on the future items.
How Much – Your Technology Budget
Developing a technology budget and aligning your capital investment to tangible business outcomes needs a solid understanding of total cost. Ensure the amount of effort put in to this part of the Roadmap aligns with your expectation of how accurate the budget needs to be for your business.
Assess & Align
The final step in building out your Technology Roadmap is assessing the steps you have identified and ensure alignment back to your goals. Creating a regular checkpoint as you begin to execute your technology plans is imperative.
Get the Guidance You Need
With a clear roadmap in place, aligned closely with your business goals, you are well-positioned to reap the rewards of well-chosen technologies and be numbered amongst those companies who understand how to best leverage technology and outperform the competition across the board.
We have a guide that can help you on the path to business success. Download the paper and get on the path to a digital business.