For the next 12 months do you know where you are going with technology? Do you know how much you are going to spend on IT? Are you just along for the ride, playing fireman and only putting out fires as you go? How will you measure your success for the next year? As we begin the New Year is it an excellent opportunity to spend a little bit of time thinking strategically about where your organization is going, why you are going there, and how to arrive. As well, arrive within an approved budget and set expectations.
Don’t make this planning task bigger than it needs to be. A well-thought-out Technology Roadmap consists of 4 parts:
- Problem Statements
- Solution Option(s)
- Recommended Solution
- Executive Summary
These parts don’t need to be long diatribes. In fact, the longer they are the less likely they’ll be read by others. Think a couple sentences for each point. More detail can be added later if requested. Just having an outline of a plan will put you ahead of the majority of IT organizations.
IT is typically a very reactive group. Many people want to jump straight to the solution without considering the problem they are trying to solve; a user has a problem and you want to fix it. Don’t be tempted to skip this step and go straight for the solution. Slow down and make yourself write a couple sentences as to what really is the problem you are trying to address. This process often exposes angles you haven’t thought of and intersections with other problems in your organization. Technology problems are usually small symptoms of larger interconnected systems and processes. Stating the problem draws these connections out. Perhaps a more unified and simpler answer exists. Take the 10 minutes to think before you jump.
Now that you have defined the problem you can approach tactical response(s). It could be a single solution option – but many problems have multiple paths for resolution. You don’t need to go overboard with options. It is best to keep it to 3 options at most – a low-cost, mid-cost, and the Cadillac option. With each option include the following:
- Dependencies (if any)
- Disadvantages (including risks)
You goal is to keep this brief – think summary – not verbosity. The goal of this exercise is not to write a dissertation and have every last detail considered but to put a framework around a technology discussion. Keep it simple; stick to the couple sentences guideline for each bullet point.
Lastly, briefly state what the recommended solution is and why. Use this part to honestly asses what the minimum viable solution would be. We would all love the Cadillac solution – but will it be overkill, adding cost and complexity to the problem? Make sure to remember that you want a system to run with the minimal maintenance as possible. What is the right-size solution for your organization?
The Executive Summary is a rollup of the total costs and timeline of the recommended solutions. This will help with the decision making process to not only identify if costs are within budget (or what the budget ask should be) as well as what resources will be required to execute the roadmap.
Taking the small bit of time to figure out where to spend your time and IT budget for the coming year will reap big rewards and give you a way to measure success. Whether you are a one person show or part of a large enterprise, is it worthwhile to set a known course for this next trip around the sun. Why not spend the time to make it the most productive year yet!
Benjamin Robbins is one of the founders of AdminBridge – providing IT Administration from mobile devices. For more information visit http://adminbridge.com