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Why your business needs a technology roadmap

Does your business have an overall plan to manage its technology?

Technology Roadmap​​Most businesses have a marketing roadmap that outlines their high-level strategy and maps out goals and priorities over the coming year. It’s surprising then, that many don’t do the same for their IT infrastructure — despite the fact that technology is an ever-changing landscape and can eat up a sizable chunk of the annual budget.

Perhaps there’s talk of a hardware refresh or moving applications to the cloud, but maybe there isn’t a step-by-step strategic framework for what should happen in the next year or so. For that matter, what needs to happen immediately to ensure the business continues to run smoothly?

If there are gaping security holes, those should be fixed now. And if there are longer-term updates needed, your technology roadmap should plan those out.

What is a technology roadmap?

A technology roadmap works the same way as a marketing plan, except it’s focused on your technology. But it’s not just a list of new tech to buy. It looks at everything from network bottlenecks to lapsing licenses and outdated technology that could lead to issues such as lost productivity or a breach in security.

Many businesses have a hodgepodge of technology; some on-premises and some in the cloud. They might have IT staff, work with a managed service provider — or both. With hardware, software, services, licensing and warranties from multiple vendors, it’s tough to keep track of this mix of technology. That’s where a roadmap comes in — helping to address potential problems before they become real problems.

For business owners feeling unsupported, anxious, nervous or unsure about their IT, a technology roadmap gives them direction and support — now, in six months, one year or even five years from now.

How to get started

“Roadmaps can be done for anyone,” said Nathan Simon, Senior Technical Manager at Epic Information Solutions, a Bell MTS company. As a managed service provider, Epic works with clients to create a technology roadmap that will keep the business on the right path and help them achieve their IT goals — no matter what their size. Epic’s small business team, for example, deals with clients who have 20 or fewer employees and who typically don’t have an IT person on staff.

“The roadmap doesn’t miss anything,” said Simon, noting it’s been refined over the past 20 years, containing the collective experience of 140 specialists at Epic across 400 certifications.

“We’ve seen it all, and if we haven’t seen it we will learn about it because we have a strong technical aptitude here,” he said.

An IT infrastructure audit by Epic can take up to four days, and that audit gets turned into a technology roadmap. The intent of this plan is to identify short and long-term goals, with specific technology solutions designed to help meet those goals. It’s a living document and is meant to be updated each year in order to address the changing needs of the business.

How a technology roadmap works

A technology roadmap starts with an overview of the current IT environment, any challenges or limitations, and recommendations or remediation for each component. It lists critical applications, pain points and any available updates. The roadmap then moves on to server infrastructure, and so on. Epic also tracks all technology coming up for warranty renewal.

Epic’s audit involves a second document that highlights high-priority projects or red-flag items that need to be dealt with immediately. It might address an urgent security requirement, for example, such as the need for intrusion prevention to help lower the risk of cyberattacks.

“If they’re out of compliance, the roadmap opens their eyes to software and hardware discrepancies,” said Simon.

The technology roadmap not only provides strategic direction, but it’s a concise document that can be shown to key decision-makers. “It can go to the C-level and show them that ‘maybe I do need to give IT more budget because we’re falling behind on our technologies, and we could lose hundreds of thousands of dollars if we’re down for four hours,’ ” said Simon.

A roadmap isn’t a make-work project. It’s a living document that can help a business get up to speed with technology, stay safe and compliant, and perhaps most importantly, provide business owners with peace of mind.

Up Next: Learn how to keep your data safely backed up, and how the 3-2-1 rule can rescue your business data.

The 3-2-1 rule can rescue your business data

Vawn Himmelsbach

Vawn Himmelsbach is a freelance writer and editor based in Toronto. She has covered technology and travel for 15 years, for media outlets such as CBCNews.ca, The Globe & Mail, Metro News, ITBusiness, PCworld Canada and Computerworld Canada. She also spent three years living abroad and working as an Asian correspondent.

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