By Stephen Sims
Why education is the crucial first step when developing an IT roadmap
In last month’s edition of the Voice, we outlined the benefits of having an IT roadmap, including creating visibility of long-term business goals and priorities, outlining project timelines and budgets, the ability to set the right business expectations, and strategic alignment across the business. Today, we will cover the first step towards building a successful IT roadmap for your business education.
Before businesses can start building their IT roadmap, there are two crucial steps to go through, and education is one of them. It is important for both the IT service provider and the client to be fully educated, with a clear understanding of the business and the current strategy. They need to get a sense of the business drivers and goals, which IT systems and architectures are currently in place, and what the anticipated outcomes and achievements are for the business in the future. IT service providers also need to educate their clients on the technologies and tools that are available in the market, and on the ways clients can steer their business and IT operations in the right direction.
1. Understanding the business
IT service providers need to clearly understand the business’s pain points and issues before they can start building the IT roadmap. To get this clear view, it is crucial to have executive buy-in from the start, and have access to every level of the business at the same time.
At the C-level, it helps to appoint an executive sponsor. This person should know the different processes and people in the businesses, and who has access to what information. Later down the track, this executive sponsor will also be able to drive the IT business case or set up a steering committee, and get the necessary approvals from the other C-suite executives.
To get a good understanding of what’s happening at the other business levels, it can be useful to set up an online company survey. After monitoring the company for a few days, the IT service provider should be able to compile a concise questionnaire for the different departments and levels within the organisation. For example, they may want to ask a question about the core issues that employees would like to focus on, such as reducing risk, productivity, simplifying IT processes, quality control, etc. Ultimately, this survey will help to get the pulse of every business unit.
2. Educating the business
Besides understanding the business processes and strategies, people within the business need to be educated regarding the latest technologies, tools and trends in the market and how, when and why to adopt them. The IT service provider needs to ask the right questions before they can provide the right kind of education and knowledge for their client.
A good IT service provider will start by asking relevant questions such as what challenges and issues the business is facing, what IT processes are in place, what the business is currently spending on its IT, if there is a preference for opex or capex, and more. Once these questions have been answered, the IT service provider can show the list of processes that need to be reviewed, and suggest tools and technology that can help solve the issues, or they can educate employees on which technologies in the business are not operating efficiently.
The education process needn’t be lengthy. Its purpose is to help set the direction for the technology roadmap so the time invested upfront will soon deliver benefits. It’s important to start the education process at the very beginning of any roadmap development because it’s the only way to really understand how the business currently operates and how technology can help improve it.
A thorough and strategic education process is likely to deliver quick results as well as longer-term results as the roadmap develops. Almost immediately, the IT service provider will be able to make changes like removing technologies that are ineffective or inefficient, and putting in solutions that can solve challenges in the short-term. They may also help organisations understand where there are skills gaps and the types of professionals it should hire.
Education should also be an ongoing endeavour, since all these immediate actions will lead to business changes that can affect the roadmap’s development.
In the next edition of The Voice, we will outline the next step to develop a successful IT roadmap, focusing on strategy development. An efficient and effective business strategy includes the business drivers and goals, and the key focus areas for the business moving forward. If you would like to get some more information about how to build a successful IT roadmap, or find out how Brennan IT can help your organisation, please visit http://www.brennanit.com.au or contact us on 1300 500 000.