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The 3-Year IT Roadmap: A Short-Sighted Long-Term Solution?

Any business that is not looking to the future is about as safe as a driver who is texting on the highway. IT particularly loves three-year roadmaps for securing its future. But are they actually that useful? In an article for TechRepublic, Patrick Gray challenges the conventional thinking and offers an alternative to these roadmaps.

Fog Ahead

A roadmap—in spite of how much data it attempts to consider across systems, vendors, and overlapping timelines—still involves a lot of guesswork. And the more complex the variables, the less likely that even an educated guess is going to turn out correct. That means IT is making massive technology investments toward a defined outcome that may or may not be completely intangible in reality. Gray illustrates the challenge like this:

For a very real example, consider the oil and gas industry three years ago. With oil at $100/barrel, the assumed challenge was finding enough of the stuff, and the biggest concern was that rapidly increasing demand might outstrip global supply. There were even well-reasoned arguments that $200/barrel was not outside the realm of possibility, and hundreds of three-year IT roadmaps were created based on these assumptions. Now the smart thinking is assuming that prices will be lower for longer, and the industry is struggling with a supply glut and concern that, rather than running out of oil, global demand will peak and begin decreasing. Imagine how useful a roadmap created in 2014 is today.

He then lays out what he views as a more practical IT planning strategy. Gray says you should maintain your long-term focus, but investments should be made with flexibility and short-term results in mind. Focus on the organizational capabilities that enable IT to support strategy now, rather than planning sweeping initiatives that target a sales demographic that might change sooner than you expect. Then prioritize those capabilities and decide what progress you can make on them within the next 120 days. Gray likens this period of time to a sprint (albeit a really big one). Following that time, you can reevaluate capabilities and priorities and start on another 120-day window. In this way, IT reduces risk, and it spends less time planning and more time working. What do you think of this concept?

For additional details, you can view the original article here: http://www.techrepublic.com/article/the-three-year-it-roadmap-is-dead-heres-a-better-way-to-plan/

About John Friscia

John Friscia is the Editor of Computer Aid's Accelerating IT Success. He began working for Computer Aid, Inc. in 2013 and continues to provide graphic design support for AITS. He graduated summa cum laude from Shippensburg University with a B.A. in English.

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