Developing an IT Blueprint - four essential points
Create Goals with All Crucial Personnel
It's important to give each department in the business a seat at the table. That's no less true with developing an IT roadmap. In order to come up with a list of goals, you'll want to understand each department's unique set of needs, how they meet objectives, and what technology would help them to better attain those goals.
Let's say you're a relatively small custom publishing operation with around 30 employees. You'll want to sit down with your ad sales staff, subscription department, editors, business development personnel, IT, and HR.
Have each department separately create a list of objectives, and then come together at the table to determine which items take priority.
Once you create those goals, personnel can come to a consensus, allowing them to better distill the scope of the roadmap, decide which platforms they want to support, and better focus on what will give them the most for their money.
Decide What Is Necessary … And Start There
It's tempting to put the horse before the cart — to create an elaborate roadmap of where you'd like to go. But start simple. What is absolutely critical to both your IT infrastructure and your operations?
First, evaluate your current technology. What hardware and software needs upgrading and when? What organizational changes do you need to make? What's your disaster recovery plan in the event your servers fail or your data is compromised?
The above considerations should be your first line of defense; take care of what you have before you take the time and money to improve upon infrastructure and process.
Look at What You Need
For the publishing company example, does it make more sense to upgrade the advertising team's existing client relationship management (CRM) system by integrating new automated lead generation? Or should you focus on automating the editors' workflow processes, freeing them up so they can produce more stories for publication each month? Or does it make sense to create bandwidth and free up finances for both?
Which will generate more revenue for the company? Which will help free internal resources to ultimately create revenue down the line? What fits into your current technology stack, and what doesn't? Whether it adds to the top line or the bottom, make sure you have some financial basis for making the changes you envision.
Create a Realistic Timeline
Once you understand what you have, what you need, and what you want, you can begin to plan out your IT roadmap.
Questions you'll want to ask when visualizing that IT roadmap timeline include the following:
➢ What sorts of skills and personnel are needed to implement the roadmap?
➢ What steps need to be taken — from the exploratory phase of technology to the implementation?
➢ What's the financial situation?
➢ How and when will we measure progress on the project?
➢ What research and data do we need?
➢ How will the roadmap team communicate with key personnel and other employees?
➢ Who will be the point person of the project?
➢ What tools do we need to support the roadmap and its implementation?
➢ How flexible can the business afford to be with timelines and goals?
➢ Where are the risks present? Are the bigger ones addressed first?
➢ Do we have incremental "value adds" along the way?