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11 Characteristics of a Successful Business-Driven Roadmap for IT

Pat Phelan
4 min read

A Business-Driven Roadmap is an information technology plan built around business priorities. Although it is informed by the vendor roadmaps of major technology suppliers, it avoids letting them dictate enterprise IT plans or take control of the organization’s budget.

This is easier said than done, particularly when you see the need to diverge from the priorities of technology providers who wield tremendous power in the marketplace. A business-driven technology strategy prioritizes your business needs over your vendors’ product-driven roadmaps that reflects their sales, marketing, product introduction, and revenue goals. A business-driven roadmap keeps your vendors from leading you in a direction that is not right for your business.Here are a few attributes of a good Business-Driven Roadmap:

#11 Fit-for-Purpose
Considers what the organization is really trying to accomplish and views technology product selection, implementation, and upgrades through that lens. Considers best-in-class options as alternatives to the latest and greatest offerings promoted by current vendors.

#10 Cost Effective
Frees up funds from inefficient processes and the churn of upgrades, updates and other software maintenance activities.

#9 Puts IT Back in Control
Reasserts the control the CIO and IT department should have over their IT direction.

# 8 Eliminates Vendor Lock-In
Liberates the business from burdensome vendor-dictated policies and support models. Refuses to submit to lock-in, making commitments to technology products and platforms conditional on how well they align with business goals.

#7 Makes an Impact
Demonstrates that independent thinking about the IT roadmap has a payoff. The impact is the result of carefully considering whether following the vendor’s roadmap or implementing a best-of-breed alternative will be the most productive and cost-effective choice.

#6 Makes Capacity Visible
Creates capacity, providing the ability to allocate limited time, resource and IT budget where they make the most sense for the business.

#5 Maximizes Value
Maximizes the value and lifespan of current technology investments by continuing to leverage technologies that are working well, rather than engaging in expensive and time-consuming upgrades or technology migrations with no clear business purpose.

#4 Is Simple and Focused
Provides a high-level view of the IT initiatives that will help the business achieve its goals and objectives.

#3 Prioritizes Investments
Establishes priorities, timing and dependencies of investments and projects to ensure technology solutions are in place and ready to support business objectives. Recognizes the difference between investments that advance the cause of the business and operational spending that can be streamlined.

#2 Is Collaborative
Emerges from a joint effort by IT and business leaders. While the CIO and IT team should lead technology planning, making the roadmap business-driven means keeping business needs and objectives at the center of the process.

#1 Aligns and Communicates
Creates alignment among internal stakeholders. While all these attributes are important, a Business-Driven Roadmap will be most successful if all stakeholders in the organization understand what you are doing and why.

It’s Your Roadmap

Like many best practices in business and technology management, the Business-Driven Roadmap concept sounds obvious in theory but is easily forgotten in practice. Following a vendor-dictated product roadmap often seems like the path of least resistance. Although elements of it may in fact be good for your business, do not swallow it whole without first comparing it with your own business-driven priorities. It is your IT roadmap, after all.

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