There’s something satisfying about folding out a map to get a bird’s-eye view of where you are and where you’re heading. I use this analogy to illustrate the importance of creating a technology roadmap for your company to help you achieve your current goals and to get you where you need to go.
In my experience as a Manager of Technical Sales Engineering at Allstream, I’ve found that many small and mid-sized businesses don’t see the importance of drawing up a technology roadmap. Even when they do, they may not feel the need to share it with their service provider.
Why Make a Roadmap?
There are many reasons for your organization to plan and execute a technology roadmap. The most important include:
- Alignment: roadmap planning requires different departments and members of senior leadership to work together and exchange ideas. This dialogue helps your company set strategic goals and explore the ways technology can help accomplish them.
- Direction: the planning process will force every department, from IT to the boardroom, to articulate and align their technology and business priorities. Once everyone understands the company’s strategic direction, they can focus on allocating resources (time, money, people and partners) to better support, maintain and adopt current and future technologies.
- Commitment: a roadmap sends the signal to employees that your company is committed to using technology to improve productivity, reduce costs and to make everybody more successful.
Sharing Your Roadmap
Service providers are the ideal partners for creating a roadmap that maximizes the ROI of your technology investment and helps everybody work more efficiently. But your provider can only help you if you share your information. Here are some key reasons to work with your provider:
- People: think of your service provider as a network of skilled business and technical analysts who are more than happy to offer their expert advice. To put it another way: consider your provider’s team bench an extension of yours. Ask them about the technologies they’re implementing for other customers and which they’re using in-house. Learn what’s worked for them and their customers and what hasn’t. The more information you have, the better your roadmap will meet your technology goals.
- Objectivity: getting an objective, informed second opinion on your roadmap will help you refine and optimize your plan and your long-term goals. You can also avoid costly risks and remove any flaws in your plan.
- Understanding: by working with your provider, you will better understand your technology priorities and what you should do to make them happen. Do you have the in-house expertise to meet those goals? How much of a technology upgrade will you need now and in the future? What role can your service provider play in bridging any technology and/or expertise gaps? In many cases, customers can only answer these questions with the help of a trusted, experienced adviser.
If you don’t have a technology roadmap, now is the perfect time to start working with your service provider to develop one. If you do, think about sharing it. Whether you’re driving to a friend’s cottage or looking to deploy technology to drive business growth, a roadmap – and a second pair of eyes – is still the best way to get there.