How can I build an IT roadmap?
Roadmaps are essential to building meaningful technology solutions. They help you visualize how the solutions you manage serve the broader goals of the business. Because you cannot just build new technology for the sake of building — you do it to serve your colleagues and the organization.
You have to be sure that the right technology is in place to support the business so it can scale and run efficiently. And you need a strategic plan so you can quickly prioritize incoming requests from the organization that align with your strategy — and say no to those that do not.
An IT roadmap is simply a visualization of your plan. It lays out your strategy (the "why"), the work you will complete to achieve your goals (the "what"), and the timeline for delivery (the "when"). It can be high-level or super detailed depending on who you are showing it to. For executives, you can provide a summary view of the IT department's work and upcoming areas of investment. For engineers and operators, you can display a more detailed view of discrete projects and tasks. Sharing your roadmap facilitates collaboration and keeps everyone accountable to the work ahead.
No matter the level of detail, building a roadmap involves these five steps:
Step 1: Lead with strategy
Strategy represents the "why" behind your work — the vision for what you want to achieve as an IT team. Before you build your roadmap, you need to determine your vision and the business goals you are supporting. Then, you can identify the IT goals and initiatives that you will pursue to achieve that strategy. This is the foundation that empowers you to select and prioritize what you will work on.
Step 2: Collect feedback
IT receives plenty of requests for enhancements to applications and services from other departments. Incorporate an idea management process into your roadmap planning — so you can gather requests in a central place without disrupting daily work. Then you can evaluate and map requests to in-progress initiatives or add tasks to your backlog of future work.
Step 3: Define the work
Now you are ready to specify the "what" of your roadmap — the epics, features, user stories, and tasks that support your strategy. Outline the requirements of each so that everyone on the IT team understands the desired outcome. If you work with an internal product manager, you will likely collaborate with them on requirements and feature definition.
Step 4: Organize features into releases
Prioritizing features and adding them to releases is the "when" of roadmap planning. You might organize your releases around sprints or the days or weeks when you deploy meaningful changes to production.
Step 5: Choose a view
The details you choose to display on your roadmap will vary depending on your audience. In executive briefings and board meetings, stick to progress toward high-level goals. In IT planning sessions, you may want to show detailed component, system, and governance plans.
Start building your own IT roadmap
Goals, initiatives, features, and timing — now you have the building blocks for your IT roadmap. There are plenty of templates that can help you get started for free. But many are built for product teams. If you want customizable roadmaps for IT, use purpose-built roadmapping software like Aha! Roadmaps. With a prebuilt workspace for IT teams, Aha! Roadmaps gives you a centralized place to prioritize initiatives, manage complex work, and streamline feedback. It also integrates with a number of popular development tools. Try Aha! Roadmaps — free for 30 days.
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