It’s easy to feel like you’re in reactive mode when it comes to technology systems. If your business is highly sensitive to process and data sharing, you may be chasing after all the latest technology to remain competitive. There’s an alternative. For the health of your business and long-term productivity, a technology roadmap is in order.
A technology roadmap is structured around your business workflow and goals and rooted in process, priorities and productivity. What do you want to achieve as a business and how can technology help you get there?
It begins with an assessment of your IT system’s strengths and weaknesses. What’s working? Where are the bottlenecks? Lay out your IT system graphically including all the connectedness, bottlenecks and opportunities for improvement. Consider all aspects of your business like process and efficiency, customer service, data security and employee business communications.
If you’ve been adding technology as a band-aid to quickly solve problems, creating a technology roadmap can move you to a more planful state. “Many businesses don’t have a plan for technology acquisition. They traditionally add technology as a means of addressing an immediate problem, which can set the stage for future problems (i.e. roadblocks),” says blogger Peter Alexander is this article for Entrepreneur Magazine.
Now, it gets messy before it gets streamlined. Take your current technology diagram (it’s not a technology roadmap just yet) and ideas gathered in the process phase and sit down with your IT provider. Ask:
1. What is the technology solution for each business goal/ challenge we have?
2. What is the ideal order of integration of these technologies? Do some build on others? Can you get improvements in multiple areas from one technology upgrade (i.e. customer service and process efficiencies combined)?
3. What is the length of time required for implementation? And what time of year that is optimal for implementation?
4. What other factors are involved? For example, who in your business needs to dedicate time to any specific technology enhancement, who and what processes are affected, etc.
5. What is our priority to reach our long-term goal? Our short-term, possibly higher-risk/ higher-reward, goal?
6. What does each solution cost in terms of hardware, software, tech support, employee productivity? Put a price range on it!
By consolidating these elements — solutions, order, timing, level of involvement required by business leaders/employees, long and short-term goals and price – you can evaluate and set priorities. CSI Onsite’s techs are also information architects who specialize in business workflow and technology roadmapping. They can offer insight and expertise throughout this process so everyone is on board with the roadmap and understands the reasoning, process and logistics behind it.
Now that your business is officially roadmapped and wired to your business goals, you can move into proactive mode. This mode recognizes that the speed of business and technology present an ever changing landscape. And it asserts that if you have a solid relationship with your IT provider, you can make technology-related decisions with confidence.
Your technology roadmap also allows you to stay on the path to reach long-term goals and veer off-path to take some calculated risks to push your business into growth mode and/or maintain your competitive advantage. Ultimately, with your map in place, your business now operates with a focus on productivity and growth. Happy mapping!