IT Roadmapping

IT Roadmaps: The Basics

IT Roadmaps are multipurpose planning tools. They can be used to align IT investment decisions with business objectives, communicate IT plans, and drive organizational transformation.

Despite this versatility however, no generally accepted standards exist for how to create and tailor roadmaps. Not surprisingly, satisfaction with roadmapping outputs is low in most organizations. For example, 74% of business partners rate IT as ineffective at understanding their goals. Meanwhile, 70% of IT executives are dissatisfied with their roadmaps.

Most EA groups are beset by three recurring roadmapping challenges: their roadmaps are not relevant, accurate, or actionable enough to be useful. Today, higher levels of unplanned demand and more business partner ownership of IT make the very act of planning harder than ever.

To successfully develop and execute roadmaps, the most progressive Enterprise Architecture organizations adopt the following four tactics:

  1. Tie IT roadmaps to business capabilities. Capabilities are a very effective method for defining business strategy and aligning IT spending to that strategy. Collaborate with business partners to describe business objectives as capabilities. Then, roadmap the technologies needed to enable those capabilities.
  2. Make roadmap creation and maintenance efficient. Populating a roadmap with inaccurate or incomplete systems data undermines roadmap credibility. However, expecting roadmap owners to thoroughly validate data – a time-consuming task – is both an unwelcome and unrealistic demand. To preempt roadmap credibility issues, make roadmap creation efficient. Before roadmaps are created, survey systems data for accuracy and durability, define data quality standards to be met, and source data estimates from subject matter experts in other corporate functions.
  3. Measure and monitor roadmap usability. Roadmaps created without consideration for how others might receive or apply them are generally difficult to understand and use. For roadmaps to be useful, they must be actionable. Improve actionability by establishing standards for content completeness and graphics quality. Also develop usability principles, such as only including the most necessary and pertinent information in roadmaps.
  4. Integrate roadmaps into strategic- and annual-planning processes. Roadmaps are only as powerful as the decisions they inform. If not incorporated into the appropriate planning processes, their impact will be significantly limited.