What is an IT Roadmap?

You may have heard your IT provider mention your organization’s “IT Roadmap,” a document outlining your current IT setup and both short-term and long-term goals. If your provider has not mentioned roadmap, you may soon discover IT-related frustrations, including a drop in productivity and IT budgeting issues.

So, what is an IT roadmap, exactly, and how does it benefit your business?

WEBIT Services has partnered with its clients for over 25 years to build successful IT roadmaps. It’s an essential part of building both IT strategy for our clients and building relationships and trust with the clients themselves.

As an IT provider, WEBIT Services feels that IT roadmaps are a foundational piece for a successful client-provider relationship. However, we recognize that not everyone feels this same way or has had a positive experience with IT roadmaps.

By the end of this article, you’ll learn the definition of an IT roadmap, how it’s constructed, its benefits, and its potential disadvantages. Of course, in the end, only you can decide for yourself if this IT strategy style is right for you.

The IT roadmap defined

An IT roadmap is a strategic plan focused on meeting an organization’s current IT needs and future goals. The roadmap can help outline various IT projects like purchasing new hardware, system upgrades, and cyber security objectives.

Usually, your IT provider will meet with you during onboarding to create the initial version of this document or review any existing plans or roadmaps you have. After the roadmap is completed, your provider should revisit it quarterly with you to be sure they are helping you meet your goals in a timely fashion.

There are typically six steps to drafting an IT roadmap.

6 Steps to creating an IT roadmap

  1. Assess current IT assets

    Your IT provider will gather information on your organization's current hardware and software. Using a combination of specialized software and “boots on the ground,” they will find how many assets are in use and how old they are, alongside running a risk assessment.

    This knowledge will serve as the foundation for your organization’s IT roadmap.

  2. Determine what assets—if any—need updates

    Once your IT provider knows the technology at your disposal, they may recommend updating older systems. They will also create a timeline outlining when specific technology needs to be replaced for optimum efficiency. This information for current and future upgrade projects will be added to your IT roadmap.

  3. Discuss and evaluate long-term goals

    The most important question you will be asked in onboarding is, “Where do you see your business in three to five years?”

    Why this timeframe? Firstly, this is a very feasible, near goal. Secondly, this is typically the window where equipment will reach or exceed its useful life expectancy.

    Your IT provider will want to know how your business plans to expand—how many people, new locations, etc.—to create IT goals that align with those future needs.

    Once your IT provider understands your immediate and future goals better, they can use this information to improve the IT roadmap.

  4. Define your functional needs

    You and your IT provider will discuss the technology you currently use and if it is the best functional fit for your organization.

    For instance, someone working in accounting may need different software and equipment than someone who works in customer service or operations. Using the wrong technology for your business can reduce productivity and efficiency.

    Your IT provider will help evaluate your current setup, help you highlight inefficiencies, and find solutions to improve productivity. This will be added as a prioritized checklist to your IT roadmap.

  5. Create your unique roadmap

    Once you and your IT provider have gathered information on your current IT setup, the systems that need immediate updating, and your future goals, your provider will construct or update your IT roadmap.

    The IT roadmap will function as a guidepost for all current and future IT initiatives.<

  6. Update and re-evaluate your roadmap as needed

    Your IT roadmap is a “living document”—it will change as your organizational needs and goals change. The goal is to revisit this document quarterly to ensure all recommendations are aligned with short- and long-term objectives.

    For example, a company anticipated growing by 20 employees in a year but increased by 35 employees instead. That changes their IT roadmap projection and goals, and it changes recommendations for new systems and technology to support that growth.

    Drafting the roadmap does not mean you’re stuck in a single trajectory for your IT goals. The roadmap acts as foundational goals that can be adjusted and updated as your business’s needs dictate.

4 Benefits of an IT roadmap

Let’s suppose you hire an Uber driver, hop into the car, and say, “Get me there in half an hour,” but you never specify a destination. Since your driver can only guess at your desired destination, chances are, you will not end up where you wanted to go. So, what went wrong? Was your driver terrible at their job? Or did they not have all the information needed for a successful trip?

When you onboard with an IT provider, you encounter a similar dilemma. Your provider could be the best in the business, but if they do not know your short-term and long-term IT goals, they cannot get you where you want to be. They can make educated guesses, but guesses can’t strategize for a company’s future.

Your IT roadmap is an honest discussion of where you see your company in the future and how your IT provider can help you get there.

Having an IT roadmap can help:

  • IT Budgeting.IT-spending surprises will be few and far between because you’ll know when you need to set money aside for IT projects and when to expect them.
  • Cut costs.Your IT roadmap will help you identify and remove unnecessary technology and applications.
  • Improve productivity.Your IT roadmap will help you utilize technology that allows your organization to perform tasks more efficiently.
  • Improve IT system weaknesses.Risk assessments are a significant part of your IT roadmap that helps you find and address system and cyber security weaknesses.

Potential Disadvantages of an IT roadmap

When properly executed, IT Roadmaps can be helpful guides for businesses. However, if an IT provider or client takes shortcuts in its creation, an IT roadmap can lead to more hurdles than aids.

The IT Roadmap will not strategically anticipate or meet needs if an IT provider doesn’t listen to the client’s goals and essentials.

The roadmap will not be successful if:

  • It is created as a “one-size-fits-all” without a proper understanding of the client’s business, present reality, and plans for the near future.
  • It is created with the distant future in mind only with little thought to the present or near future goals.
  • It lacks flexibility.
  • The IT provider does not consult the client on a regular basis to be sure the IT Roadmap is meeting their needs.

These issues combined will lead to stress, unforeseen crises, decreased productivity, and budgeting issues—all problems a solid IT roadmap is intended to avoid.

Next steps to planning your IT roadmap

An IT roadmap is a strategic document outlining an IT project timeline to help your company improve productivity, IT security, and IT budgeting. It’s constructed during a company’s onboarding process with a new IT provider.

An IT roadmap should be customized for each client and their business goals.

This tool can help improve productivity, cyber security, and IT budgeting when well-constructed. However, if the client or provider cuts corners in its creation, the IT roadmap will create stress instead of relieving it.

WEBIT Services’ vCIOs (our term for Strategic Advisors) have helped hundreds of clients construct their IT Roadmaps and bring their IT plans to life. WEBIT finds the IT roadmap vital to building client relationships and bringing IT-related success.

Contact your IT provider if you’d like to revisit or discuss your IT roadmap. Your vCIO can help you examine current and upcoming IT goals and discuss how they can help you meet them.

If you do not have an IT provider and want to discuss how an IT roadmap could benefit your business, you can schedule a consultation with WEBIT Services.

To learn more about WEBIT Services, we recommend visiting our Solutions page.