Do you remember the conversation between Alice and the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland? To paraphrase, Alice asks which way to go and the cat replies, “If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there.” While this may be true in the fictional world of Lewis Carroll (and reprised in lyrics by George Harrison in his song “Any Road”), it is not an effective approach for an IT organization in today’s fast-paced business world.
Too often, delivering IT services is not the result of a well thought-out plan designed to support the business into the future, but rather a series of ad hoc decisions made on a project-by-project basis and stitched together with little or no consideration for how to leverage emerging technologies to support the future direction of the business. The challenges IT organizations face today are radically different than those they faced just a few years ago.
For starters, the goal of cutting costs has taken a backseat to agility as companies work to keep up with a fast-paced market. Today’s mantra is speed, innovation and a high degree of quality and security. Emerging digital technologies and ways of working such as automation, cloud computing, DevOps, and the Internet of Things (IoT) are upending the way IT buys, manages and maintains its environment.
In the face of all this, a roadmap for taking IT to the future is not a luxury, it is a must. The necessary first step to designing a strategic roadmap is to understand the current environment. Before your next big investment, get clear answers to the following questions:
- How does the productivity and effectiveness of our IT services compare to those of similar organizations?
- How current is our infrastructure and technology? How old is our portfolio of applications? To what degree are we currently leveraging emerging digital technologies?
- How agile is our infrastructure? Can our teams deploy code to production on a daily basis? Can we rapidly bring up new environments across development, QA, staging and production? Are we deploying automation across the enterprise?
- Are our processes and methods designed to efficiently deliver business functionality, or are they a hindrance? Do IT staff and business users adhere to them or are they largely ignored?
- Does the current organizational structure facilitate or inhibit work?
Only after getting a firm grasp on the here and now should you begin designing a roadmap. The most important question at this stage: what is the business trying to achieve? The roadmap is an invaluable tool for aligning IT’s objectives to the business objectives and prioritizing them so IT can provide the technology the business needs.
Whether the objective of IT is to create a sustainable service delivery model that enables innovation or to increase the predictability and consistency of delivery, defining IT’s objectives gives you a litmus test to evaluate options for taking you to the future state. And a roadmap is an essential document that describes how the organization will get there. An effective roadmap and strategy for a digital transformation includes the following five components:
- A clear articulation of the transformation’s objectives and the underlying IT objectives. IT leadership should identify and engage critical stakeholders to help establish alignment on the objectives and act as guides going forward. These stakeholders will help evaluate the success of the transformation.
- An outline of the initiatives required to accomplish the transformation objectives. This high-level to-do list should include a description of the scope of each initiative so it can serve as a way to communicate with stakeholders what lies ahead.
- A timeline of the initiatives based on priority and duration and takes into account the resources needed and the organization’s ability to implement change.
- An estimate of the costs required to complete the digital transformation, including:
- Transition costs needed to move from the current delivery model to the new operating model
- Transformation costs needed for projects, including new digital technologies, automation of processes, modernization of the application portfolio and migration to the cloud
- Organizational change management costs needed to communicate with and train employees affected by the changes.
- A solid business case that contains an accurate return on investment for the overall digital transformation initiative.
Moving your IT organization where it needs to go does not happen by chance. A defined and comprehensive roadmap is the single most important tool to help an IT organization successfully navigate the landscape of emerging digital technologies and effectively support business growth.
ISG helps IT organizations design and implement digital transformation roadmaps. Contact me to discuss further.
About the author
Doug Bunch is a knowledgeable ADM professional who brings considerable experience in information technology (IT) to ISG’s clients in his role as Director. Doug has more than 30 years of IT experience with proven leadership in ADM delivery, designing solutions, global resourcing and delivery, transition management and risk management. He has deep global experience from working with ADM delivery teams in Europe, South America, and Asia, and his client base spans a wide range of industries.