Too many businesses don’t seem to grasp the importance of mapping out the technology they are using at present, as well as the technology they will need in the years to come. This is why a technology roadmap is something every entity should have, as it helps them understand what their current infrastructure is capable of handling, and whether or not it will be able to support the business objectives in the future.
The six steps to building a successful technology roadmap are:
In essence, a technology roadmap is a high-level visual summary that maps out the vision and plans for any new technology initiative. However, many companies don’t know where to begin. Making any change to an organisation’s technology environment can be a complex and onerous process and can have a knock-on effect across the business. This is why before embarking on any specifics of a new technology project, it’s important to first figure out why the project is critical to the business. This is the stage where business leaders need to strategise the work that supports the business, its products, and solutions, as well as what is needed technology-wise to make sure that work can happen. In this way, there will often be an overlap between the business and technology roadmaps.
2. Knowing what you have
Once the strategy has been formulated, the next step would be examining what current infrastructure the company has on-site, and what resides in the cloud. There are opportunities here to repurpose and extend the lifespan of some of the legacy technologies within the environment. There are several ways of doing this. If the hardware is fairly current, your channel partners might be able to extend the support from the vendor, or through themselves, or even get their hands on a few spares to ensure minimal impact to the business if the equipment fails. There are also instances where rearchitecting, repurposing, and shifting are possible if the company is willing to accept trade-offs in terms of speed or performance, for example. In this way, formulating a technology roadmap is a dual exercise, an audit of the organisation’s technology infrastructure, as well as a planning operation in optimising said equipment.
3. Sweating assets and budgeting
Once the company has decided where it can sweat technology and where new investments are needed, the next step is establishing what the organisation hopes to achieve out of the investments themselves. This would include the performance standards that need to be met, and similar. This step also forms the foundation for budgeting purposes, which is step number four. Here, the business needs to establish how much money it is physically able to throw at new technology investments. However, this goes beyond the initial capital outlay. The monthly costs associated with both physical and virtual environments need to be taken into account too. For example, businesses should be aware when warranties on legacy equipment are coming up so that the costs of sweating these assets can be budgeted into the payment cycle as well. In addition, it’s important to look at a certain percentage of growth to ensure you have budgeted for expansion, and to ensure your company can grow to where it wants to be in the future. After all, prices go up every three to four months, so it’s good to be prepared.
4. Putting out the biggest fires
Number four on the list would be prioritisation or deciding what the business needs to achieve first. Think of this stage as putting out the biggest fires. Scrutinise what the most pressing weaknesses in the company’s technology stack are, and what is holding up the business from achieving its business objectives or preventing the company’s product strategy from crossing the finishing line. This could be a legacy database that needs to be brought out of the stone age, a new server to run a software package that the business needs in order to operate, or security around the current environment. Either way, identifying the chinks in the infrastructure armour can help business leaders decide what needs to be dealt with, and in what order.
5. Making sure it works together
Next on the list is integration or making sure that all the technology is able to work together. It is key to establish how to make the current technology environment work with the future environment, as well as the cloud environment, security investments, and of course all the software that the business is running on. Introducing technological change into any business presents a set of challenges in terms of management and integration that need to be considered upfront.
6. In line with compliance
The final step, and one of the most important, is compliance. At this stage, the organisation needs to examine what, if any, of the changes made, will make the business more in line with POPIA or GDPR, or any other standard that they need to be compliant with. At this time, it’s important to ascertain whether the new equipment comes with any certifications or built-in security that would ensure it can protect the company’s data.
As any organisation matures, it needs to continue delivering a competitive service or product, or it will fail to grow and evolve. Having a technology roadmap in place is key to building a successful, sustainable business that is able to adapt as the needs of the industry shift, and the needs of its customers change.