The Business-Driven Roadmap Imperative: IT Must Serve the New Mandate from the CEO

The Business-Driven Roadmap Imperative: IT Must Serve the New Mandate from the CEO

Business priorities are changing to growth and innovation. This is shifting IT’s mandate from efficiency and standardization to being an open, agile and customer-engaged organization that enables business-driven outcomes.  Complicating this dynamic is an increase in the frequency of vendors introducing new digital technologies such as cloud, social, mobile and analytics. It is opening up new opportunities for the business to determine if- and how- it will innovate. However, investing in innovation is easier said than done.

Many CIOs are unsure about which technologies to invest in as they prepare to meet future business demands.  Constant change in technologies can force decisions about whether to keep what they’ve got or swap out components for new products as technologies evolve. The cost of changes will add up, but many CIOs don’t get additional budget from their CEOs to make digital and other innovations happen.

Most CIOs believe they are in control of their IT roadmaps, but many feel pressured to adhere to their vendors’ roadmaps or risk loss of support. Others feel pressured to adopt a general strategy such as “cloud first” without a clear map of how the strategy supports the business. These approaches are not aligned with business transformation or IT’s new mission. Vendor-dictated changes can consume a significant portion of the IT budget and resources that could be used to deliver greater business value and innovation.

In order to be responsive to the business, CIOs must choose between two directional strategies: vendor-driven or business-driven.

This article is excerpted from the research report, The Business-Driven Roadmap Imperative, which provides more detail on how to design and execute a Business-Driven Roadmap.

What a Business-Driven Roadmap Is

A business-driven roadmap is a rolling 3 – 10 year plan that translates an enterprise’s business strategy into technology initiatives that enable it to achieve its objectives. A roadmap is business-driven when technology investments are aligned with business goals, priorities, resources and timing. It is comprised of a primary high-level roadmap showing technology investments that enable business outcomes.

If you take the idea of a physical roadmap and apply it to an enterprise, the roadmap shows your business goals (or business outcomes) as destinations. It shows the IT strategy as the route you intend to take to get there. It shows individual technology investments or projects as the stops you’ll make along the way.  There may be detours along the way, but you should start out with a plan.

The key difference between a business-driven roadmap and other roadmaps is a business-defined destination. For example, if the roadmap doesn’t show how investments move the enterprise toward achieving business goals, it is not business-driven since there is no destination defined. Application and technology roadmaps are also not business-driven if they are built around your vendor’s roadmap and goals. Your enterprise software vendor’s updates should be included when planning a business-driven roadmap if they contribute to achieving a business goal. However, the vendor updates don’t dictate the route, priority or timing of a business-driven roadmap.

There is no one-size-fits-all roadmap and a single view of the roadmap will likely be too limited to show the various application and technology layers involved in how your IT strategies will be executed. More detailed, supplemental roadmaps (e.g. functional, technical, cloud, infrastructure, security, skills and others) may be needed to capture details such as the order in which specific new business capabilities will be implemented. Likewise, roadmaps may be used to show how a given strategy will be executed – for example, cloud migration by cloud layer. Each of the roadmap views should reflect the priorities and timing needed to align with the business’ goals.

Wrapping it all up, the business-driven roadmap provides a holistic view of the timeline of support needed to deliver and maintain the solutions being planned. It makes visible the changes in support requirements that will occur as a result of following the business-driven roadmap. This will help you develop a support roadmap to guide headcount decisions and plan for filling skill gaps. Given a rising wave of retirements among people with enterprise software skills, combined with an acute demand for new digital skills, the competition for resources is going to get worse.

Why Follow A Business-Driven Roadmap?

If the business were static and the technologies that enable the business were static, there would be no “change journey” to be made. There would be little need to ensure technology is in place to support the changes. The risk of not having a roadmap would be minimal. It’s only when the need to “get from here to there” arises, that you have to make choices about how you intend to make the journey so that the right investments are made to get prepared, and those investments are made in time to allow IT to enable the business change. Using a business-driven roadmap highlights needs, gaps and disconnects between the business objectives and IT’s technology plans.

To see more on building the case for breaking away from a vendor-dictated applications roadmap and moving towards an IT investment plan that is business-driven, see The Business-Driven Roadmap Imperative.