Position Your Business for Success with IT Roadmapping

By Eric Egolf, CEO

Planning, budgeting, and prioritizing for IT can be a complex process. Big-picture, strategic planning is a critical part of maturing a business’s IT operations. But many businesses don’t know where to start with this type of planning. Even if they do, many encounter the pitfalls of not including the right stakeholders early enough in these IT planning processes. 

To help businesses create a clear picture of what IT activities to budget for, at CIO Solutions we use a process called “IT roadmapping”. In the following article, I will explain what we mean by “IT roadmapping” and how it can help your business get a better handle on your technology planning and improve your interactions within your organization and with your IT provider. 

What does an IT Roadmap look like and what does it include? Article: [Components of an IT Roadmap | IT Budgeting & Strategy] 

Defining IT Roadmapping 

IT roadmapping is, in essence, shorthand for “budgeting and planning for IT projects and IT asset maintenance.” In the IT roadmapping process, we itemize costs and activities (including projects, subscriptions, software, and services) into a timeline-based spreadsheet. 

Condensing strategic and ongoing IT expenses like this allows your business to get a better handle on planning and budgeting. It simplifies complex concepts, creates a clear picture of what’s coming up, and helps you understand the CapEx and OpEx requirements of maintaining and maturing your IT. 

IT roadmapping organizes all these activities into a plan while at the same time translating it into something that can easily be understood by everyone, from operational to financial teams. This can be a game-changer for getting your organization on the same page internally when it comes to the future of your IT. 

Who Needs to Be in The Conversation? 

It’s important to note that this tool shouldn’t interfere with or replace your normal budgeting methods. It should instead be a useful addition to them. Depending on business maturity, this type of IT planning can be fed into your organization’s regular budgeting process.  

Much like other planning and budgeting conversations, IT roadmapping sessions should include all the key stakeholders, particularly financial decision-makers. Without financial stakeholders in the room during the planning discussion, an IT roadmap won’t be a reliable tool.  

The goal of an IT roadmap is to create a proactive approach to planning. Without the direct input of these key decision-makers and financial stakeholders, any plan that is created will become more of a wish list to be approved or denied rather than a collaborative go-forward plan. It will have been built on unconfirmed assumptions that may later be rejected, making the roadmap less valuable. 

By including these key decision-makers early in the planning process, the resulting plan will be realistic and understood across internal groups. With active input from these parties upfront, this can be instrumental for breaking down barriers to maturing and properly maintaining your business IT. 

Big-Picture Planning Capabilities 

In addition to improving a business’s cross-departmental collaboration, IT roadmaps are also a great tool for transforming the relationship between a business and its IT provider. Holding these planning sessions helps to drive regular, strategic conversations between your business decision-makers and your IT expert. 

These opportunities for big picture planning give the IT expert permission to do what they do best: be forward-thinking. In the IT roadmapping conversation, the IT expert can lay out what they have identified as being most important for the business over the next 1 to 3 years. This helps everyone plan accordingly with a clear and manageable path forward which is way better than the alternative: reacting to sudden IT demands and writing unexpected checks month after month. This helps move the approach from reactive to proactive and puts everyone in a better position with more control. 

Barriers To Effective Planning 

While IT roadmapping can be a highly beneficial tool, the process is only as good as the business’s commitment to it. Here are a couple of things that commonly get in the way of a roadmap’s effectiveness. 

  • Surprise projects 

If a business has a habit of coming up with surprise projects, the roadmap will be ineffective. The process of creating an IT roadmap should dig out all the known and planned projects. If it doesn’t, in our experience, this issue is often a sign of ineffective communication between various stakeholders in the business. Unless it is addressed, a roadmap will lose its value. 

  • Rejecting recommendations 

It’s important to embrace the recommendations made by your IT expert. Rejecting these recommendations can dampen the value and effort put into roadmapping. The point of IT roadmapping is to allow the IT provider and the businesses to be proactive and methodical. However, when items on the roadmap are constantly pushed off or rejected, it reverses the value of roadmapping. 

To make IT roadmapping truly valuable, having the right mindset is important. If the motivators for rejecting recommendations are due to being overly frugal or non-committal, then the roadmap becomes unless. If surprise projects keep popping up, the same is true. IT roadmapping should be seen as a collaborative tool to help provide clarity and move the business forward through strategic investments. 

Moving Your Technology Forward 

IT Roadmaps are a great tool for long-term strategy, consistently maturing IT, improving internal stakeholder expectations, and leveraging the forward-thinking capabilities of your IT expert. This tool can move planning conversations and IT management posture from reactive to proactive, giving everyone more control and providing a clearer, more manageable path forward. 

However, this is not a one-and-done magic bullet. It’s a process that needs to occur at regular intervals. It requires a commitment by all parties and a willingness to collaborate on the big picture goals. When done effectively and with the right mentality, an IT roadmap is one of the most effective tools for maturing a business’s IT into a strategic tool. 

What does an IT Roadmap look like and what does it include? Article: [Components of an IT Roadmap | IT Budgeting & Strategy] 


Are you a current client of CIO Solutions? Contact your vCIO or Client Success Manager to continue the conversation around your IT strategy!   

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Eric is the CEO of CIO Solutions, a multi-regional IT services company that provides IT management and cloud computing. He has managed his firm through 3 major industry paradigm shifts, all of which disrupted the service and economic models that were at play.

In his role as CEO, he leads the company in adapting to the ever-changing world of Information Technology. With a growth mindset, he guides the organization as they grow into new challenges, take on shifting market dynamics, and re-invent their approach as technology changes.