Five Signs Your Technology Roadmap is Incomplete

By: | Category: Cloud Computing, CRM, ERP, IT / Infrastructure

As we discussed in a previous article, a formal technology roadmap is often lacking among small-to-medium-sized (SMBs) organizations, leading to a reliance on manual, paper-based processes, legacy technology, spreadsheets, or other homegrown systems that dilute the business’s ability to compete effectively in today’s digital economy.

On the other hand, some SMBs may believe that they have a solid technology roadmap in place, only to find that their roadmap is not as complete as they might have thought. In turn, not properly building and using a roadmap can increase the risk of a failed digital transformation.

In fact, bad planning itself can often lead to failure. According to a recent CIO article, “8 Reasons Why Digital Transformations Fail,” when there is a lack of effective, consistent communication, digital transformation efforts often fail or don’t garner the full adoption the business hoped for.

The first warning signs will be felt by the business itself. For example, if businesses use KPIs and metrics to track costs, growth, productivity, speed, and overall efficiency, those indicators may confirm that the business is missing real opportunities to improve existing processes to better support its most important goals.

“Technology can give businesses a major competitive advantage, especially when it comes to automation, more efficient operations, reducing costs, and delivering important business insights.”

Technology can give businesses a major competitive advantage, especially when it comes to automation, more efficient operations, reducing costs, and delivering important business insights. By properly using a technology roadmap as a planning tool, SMBs will increase their rate of success with the roadmap initiatives.

The Warning Signs

If your company is experiencing any of the challenges described above – or looking to capitalize on new opportunities – here are five warning signs that your technology roadmap may be incomplete:

  1. No collaboration or feedback: It’s important to remember that a technology roadmap is an evolving tool to facilitate decision making and planning. If your plan doesn’t have an obvious way to incorporate feedback from key stakeholders and improve over time based on this collaboration, chances are good it’s not complete and there is no formal change management program.
  2. Lack of engagement from executives: Similarly, your technology roadmap should include input from key stakeholders, including owners, executives, technical staff, managers, and end users. If your existing roadmap doesn’t reflect their insights, perspectives, and requirements, it’s probably not aligned with everyone’s expectations. This will be reflected in a lack of buy-in from stakeholders.
  3. Missing risk calculations and budget considerations: Let’s face it: every technological initiative comes with real – and often significant – risks and potential challenges. Many businesses fail to attach budget numbers to each technology imitative, and once businesses embark on their transformation, they may realize that they vastly underestimated the investment and resources needed to deliver the roadmap. If your technology roadmap doesn’t factor these variables in and thoroughly assess how the organization can address them, these initiatives may face more obstacles than you originally thought – and may even be doomed right from the start.
  4. No timelines or scope: Every technology roadmap should include a realistic timeframe and scope of work that carefully aligns with the company’s capabilities, resources, and overall goals. Companies need to find the balance between product rollouts and deployments that are too aggressive while not waiting too long to capitalize on the right technology. All of this needs to be carefully considered and included as part of your technology roadmap. 
  5. It’s a fair point that many SMBs may lack the senior IT staff to help drive technology decisions, yet they still can’t ignore market trends or technologies that can clearly improve their business. This doesn’t need to be as futuristic as artificial intelligence; many SMBs can benefit from basic automation tools, CRM and ERP solutions, or specialized technology such as AP automation systems

The best way to overcome these challenges is to review and update your technology roadmap on a regular, ongoing basis. It will also help to bring an objective view to these reviews to best answer the following questions:  

  • Is our roadmap as complete as it could be?  
  • How can we make this roadmap better?  
  • Who else could help us improve our technology planning?  
  • Would an external third party’s view and expertise be valuable in providing us with independent feedback on our strategy and technology roadmap execution?

Such a mindset and a commitment to improving will help make your technology roadmap even better, and in doing so, better position your company for greater success.