As we enter the final months of 2011, have you started planning for the new year? I know it might seem a little early, but with the holidays quickly approaching, it’s not too early to start planning. Do you know how technology will fit with your business goals? Given the headache-inducing pace at which technology changes, it can be difficult to wade through the buzzwords (i.e. cloud computing, mobile marketing, SaaS, scalability) to find real applicable meaning. That’s why we recommend that every business build a technology roadmap.
Do you have a technology roadmap to help you navigate through the unknown next year? If not, or you’re not sure, keep reading.
A technology roadmap is a plan that will help you match your long-term and short-term goals with specific technology solutions that will help you reach those goals. In a nutshell, using a technology roadmap will help you plan before you buy.
Do you view technology expenditures as a necessary evil or an integral part of your corporate strategy? When you build a plan around your purchases, you’ll start to realize how much technology fits into your overall strategy. Planning ahead will also help you level expenses and prevent major outages and data loss.
How to Build a Technology Roadmap
1.) Get the Right People Involved.
Put together a team of no more than six decision makers that will guide the roadmapping process. Individuals of this team should include the owner/CEO, CFO/controller, head of sales/marketing and your IT consultant.
Choose your IT consultant wisely. Will they be around to see your plans through their entirety? Do they have the necessary skills and knowledge base to handle what your business needs? Look for someone who’s experienced in the server room and the boardroom.
2.) Identify Current Goals, Risks and Challenges
You probably have an idea of some challenges your business is currently facing, but you might not know all of your risks. For example,
-Do you know if your data backups are constantly monitored and tested?
-Do you have a disaster recovery plan in place?
-Are you losing business to competitors with higher search engine rankings?
Work with your IT consultant to identify and address these challenges, then rank them in terms of importance, cost, and ease of implementation.
3.) Make Your Map
Now that you’ve got everything on the table, it’s time to make sense of the information. Your IT consultant can build a technology roadmap for your business, broken down by topic, cost and timeline. You’ll have a visual representation of what you want to achieve, how much it’s going to cost, and how long it’s going to take.
As you implement the solutions in your technology roadmap, be sure to plan for any downtime (ex.- during software or hardware migrations), and resource usage (will employees be taken away from regular work activities?).
What do you expect 3, 6 and 12 months out? Meet with your IT consultant on a regular basis for progress checks. We do this in the form of our Virtual CIO meetings.