Competition is intensifying. Customer demands and service delivery capabilities are increasing. Information technologies and their resulting business model implications are growing exponentially. Given our highly dynamic business climate, it can seem like a daunting task to be sure your information technology systems are tightly aligned with your business objectives and that you are making the most of your IT investments.
Managers need an effective framework to ensure their organizations are leveraging IT for competitive advantage. A simple and practical solution is to create an integrated and holistic IT roadmap as part of management’s decision-making processes throughout the entire organization.
An effective IT roadmap is a dynamic, rather than static, plan that takes into account all of your IT and resource needs—external (i.e. customer and supplier facing) and internal (i.e. process and decision-making)—as you plan for new business opportunities and initiatives.
There is not one single IT roadmap that can serve as an effective template for all organizations. However, there are 10 key elements, or planning dimensions, you should consider as you create your company’s roadmap:
- Customer intimacy. Enable increased levels of customer intimacy and enablement by allowing your customers to meet some or all of their needs on their own, helping them to make more informed choices about various product or service options or becoming an invisible part of your customers’ processes.
- Competitive differentiation. Raise the bar for your products or services and make it more challenging for your competitors (current and future) to provide the same level/mix/ mode of service.
- Supplier integration. Achieve tighter integration with your supply chain partners by providing key suppliers with critical information in a near real-time basis, while reducing supply chain transaction costs.
- Process realities. Improve the flexibility, cost and quality of your delivery processes to ensure IT systems are able to handle possible short-term business scenarios.
- People factors. Enable your employees to complete their work more effectively through improved communication, collaboration and ease of use in a more reliable and secure manner.
- Technological capabilities. Achieve business objectives through the use of proper tools, platform standardization and industry best practices.
- Innovation culture. Provide insights into new product and service opportunities and enable experimentation, results analysis and organizational learning.
- Financial management. Provide stakeholders with higher returns on their investments by directly linking each project with desired business results in quantifiable terms such as increased sales and reduced costs and turnover.
- Regulatory compliance. Ensure IT systems are in full compliance with applicable regulatory requirements.
- Risk considerations. Establish proper enterprise risk management guidelines and capabilities to minimize overall risks to the organization.
While the importance of each of these elements will vary by organization, in general they provide a framework to evaluate your company’s current IT capabilities and devise strategies to create tighter alignment between business plans and IT initiatives.