Information technology (IT) exists to help us be more productive and to make life easier. Software tools are critical for businesses to stay ahead – or at least on pace – with their competition. The challenge is that many still see IT as an obstacle; a necessary evil that all-too-often finds itself in the wrong column of the company balance sheet.
How do you transform IT from a frustrating anchor to a propeller, bringing your business to new heights?
To use technology as a strategic advantage, businesses must have a plan or “roadmap.”
How to Create A Technology Roadmap: Steps For IT Planning
The process of putting together a technology roadmap starts with your business plan objectives. Is new client acquisition the highest priority at the moment? Or is supply-chain optimization the most pressing need?
In an ideal world, you’d make IT investments that could help accomplish all of the above. The unfortunate reality is that most companies have budget constraints, so careful prioritization is essential. With objectives in mind, you’ll work with your IT team to figure out how technology can help you reach those goals with a budget and timeline that coincides with the needs of the overall business.
Next is to identify the specific technologies or processes that are right for you and within your budget – not just for the short-term, but ones that will support the business’ long-term needs.
At the end of the process, you’re left with a blueprint for IT investments that clearly links the business ends and technological means – in other words, a technology roadmap.
Internal and External Process Improvements
Putting a roadmap together isn’t just about finding external solutions. If every problem in your company’s IT function was solved by buying new technology, the capital outlay alone could cripple your business. A comprehensive technology roadmap also incorporates internal solutions: identifying ways your staff can optimize day-to-day processes by adhering to IT best practices, or implementing simple process tweaks. This is where it’s helpful to work with an IT consultant. Insights from an impartial party may give your IT planning the innovative spark it needs to help you hit your goals.
IT Investment Transparency and Accountability
One of the biggest frustrations executives have with technology is they feel like they just keep spending without seeing a return. With an IT roadmap, technology investments become much more transparent. They keep track of current and future investments, as well as the milestones that are achieved along the way. These documents keep everyone on the same page and accountable, especially when initiatives have been delayed or if the scope has changed.
To keep everything continuously moving in the right direction, the technology roadmap and business plan should be reviewed on at least a quarterly basis. Often times, executives are so wrapped up in day-to-day leadership that the big picture gets left behind. This quarterly strategy session helps them stay on track and see the whole IT picture.
At the end of the day, investments in IT should be strategic in nature and provide a competitive advantage for the business. Work with your IT team to develop the strategic IT roadmap for your company and see how technology can help your business move in the right direction.
Written by "Tech Girl" Courtney Kaufman Casey.
Courtney is Director of Marketing for Accent Computer Solutions in Rancho Cucamonga. For more information visit www.AccentOnIT.com.
As featured in the September 24th issue of The Press-Enterprise.