Borrowing from a quote from Dwight D. Eisenhower: “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.”

Just substitute “plans” and “planning” with “roadmaps” and “roadmapping” and you’ll understand, as Ike did, that in a fast changing world, you have to be agile.

Written by Paula Ziehr

A colleague recently asked for some help in demonstrating to his potential customer how Alfabet supports planning and management of IT operational and capital expenses.

He listed the customer’s goals (here is an extract):

Better and more long-term use of financial resources

Ability to measure the value contribution of individual investment decisions

Consideration of all cost and investment types: new system projects, maintenance for existing systems, IT infrastructure and innovation projects

Avoidance of peaks in certain years: the annual budget is constant and can’t be increased – peaks lead to stress because it means somewhere else money needs to be saved.

I’m sure most of you have these objectives and may be wondering how a tool can help. The answer can be found in our recent Alfabet Portfolio Playbook on “Roadmapping Investment Scenarios” which takes a look at a scenario-based approach to portfolio optimization supported by effective architecture roadmapping.

Roadmaps are fairly detailed plans on how things will develop over time. Like plans, roadmaps need to be flexible and able to adapt as the world changes. Investment roadmapping needs to be agile and spending targeted at what is sure to succeed – and that is a moving target.

Further, you’ll need an integrated view onto related roadmaps to provide context and body to the investment roadmap: the architecture roadmap to assess needed resources and delivery time, the implementation roadmap to know when skills and finances will be needed, the roll-out roadmap to know when the software will be deployed and implemented into business processes, and the benefits roadmap to show business what they can expect and when.

The investment part of the equation means you want to know that you’re investing in the right things. Here, the business capability map is an essential tool for having A) a structured overview of business activities to relate IT activities to and B) a simple business-oriented basis for a meaningful dialog with business about investments.

For investment decisions you’ll want to understand which capabilities need to be strengthened to achieve strategy. You’ll also need to know how IT projects (planned or in-flight) relate to the business capabilities. If there are many or expensive projects associated with capabilities that have not been identified as critical to strategy achievement, you need to ask why they are been invested in at all. And vice versa: If there are no projects associated to capabilities that need to be improved to achieve strategy, investment is obviously misplaced.

Scenarios are important for understanding which mix of projects will help achieve business and IT goals while understanding risks and costs and keeping in line with company policies. A scenario-building facility should enable assessment according to KPIs that reflect that as well as flexible casting of projects into various timelines and weighting of priorities.

So approach investment planning like Ike – have your goals in mind but be flexible in your planning. Use roadmaps. After all, Eisenhower’s largest investment program during his administration was the US Interstate Highway System – a program that put roads on the map. Now that’s real roadmapping!