“Are we there yet?” How an independent evaluation of your Technology Roadmap can shave years off realising your goals
We have previously mentioned some of the core ingredients for long-term success of your Technology Roadmap:
- Intimate understanding of stakeholder needs, wants and operating methods
- A solid infrastructure platform and vetted architecture
- Long-term, evangelistic support from other C-Suite players – the CEO, CFO and CIO, depending on the organisation
- The ability to tell and retell, in a compelling manner, the story of how your Technology Roadmap will benefit the organisation
- A recognition that line of business decision-makers are in an ideal position to connect business mission and values to IT decisions that, formerly were the sole domain of the IT department – the IT function must adapt to support them
- User education is as important as technical development and innovation
Those are the fundamentals. They should set you up for success.
But how can you be sure? How do you know that the Technology Roadmap you agreed three, four or five years ago is still delivering what the organisation needs today and that you are still on the correct course?
You could review it yourself, but there’s a certain institutional blindness baked in to doing so. After all, you are one of the subjects of the review – it’s hard to be objective at the same time.
You could ask one of your IT implementation partners, if you have them. But the same lack of objectiveness is present in this scenario too, and it is very likely there will be bias in the evaluation, even if it is unconscious.
There are three key reasons to consider engaging an external party to conduct your review.
1. The terms of reference can remove any bias.
Making it clear from the start that the reviewing party cannot compete for a contract related to the roadmap it is reviewing for the next X months or years is the easiest way to ensure that you remove the risk of biased assessment.
It should assist your incumbent Implementation Partner(s) feel more comfortable in talking plainly about their observations and any concerns with the rollout of your roadmap. The fact that they are speaking with a peer will mean they don’t have to pull any punches from a technical standpoint and they are quite likely to participate openly because they realise that the review is their opportunity to reshape their relationship with your organisation to address any issues they may have been unwilling to raise earlier – at least, that has been our experience to-date.
2. Fresh eyes deliver new insights
When reviewing technology roadmaps, an external party can form a “Dream Team” of sorts, with subject-matter experts drawn from multiple companies where it makes sense to do so, based on your geographic scope, hardware or software enviroment. This is something an incumbent implementation partner cannot easily do without introducing the risk of bias.
A good example of this is the Technology Roadmap review we conducted for HQ Plantations, a Queensland-based forest owner with IT needs that stretched from network management to Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and ERP services. Computer One formed a team from three different companies, each with specialised skills, to review and redraft the Roadmap where technology offerings had changed faster than anticipated or there was an emerging gap between the business’ needs and what the technology employed by the company was delivering.
The review highlighted several areas where gaps were emerging over the business’ ability to hit its technology goals in the plan’s timeframe. We were able to use the insights from our dream team of professional partners to redraft the plan to close them.
3. CEO and board recommitment is easier to achieve because risk is lessened
Ultimately, the point of conducting a review is to provide reassurance to the board and senior executives that the organisation is on track to achieving its business goals and the correct technology decisions, budget and timeframe is in place to support that outcome.
The risk of institutional blindness and self-review bias is lessened by using an external team. This reduced risk will provide comfort to both the board and CEO.
Reviewing your Technology Roadmap every three years means you build in touchpoints where course corrections can occur, to keep your technology spend closely aligned to achieving your business goals.
Putting in place the controls necessary to engage a third-party safely means you get all the benefits of an arm’s length review – enthusiastic participation from your incumbent suppliers, a team of specialists with direct experience in all your technology requirements, and comfort from reduced business risk for the board and CEO.
It is hard to imagine delivering all these outcomes from inside the organisation. Engaging a competent third party to review your Technology Roadmap is a smart business decision.