Have you been asked by senior leadership to build out a business applications roadmap? If so, where do you even start? 

Mark Cassidy, former ERP Director at Gilead, offered his experience on building out business application plans at a large organization during a recent virtual meet up (organized by our Business Systems community). 

 We’ll cover three key parts of his presentation:

  • Where to start
  • How to prioritize projects 
  • Tips on visualizing and maintaining your roadmap  

After reviewing them, you should feel comfortable fleshing out a business applications roadmap at your organization!

You can catch the full recording by joining our Business Systems community. You’ll also get access to our virtual events, in-person meet ups, and a private forum where you can network and share ideas with 600+ business technology leaders. Request to join our community.

Gather a Steering Committee  

Before you can start building and executing your roadmap, Cassidy recommends gathering a team of stakeholders across different lines of business. This kind of committee can help get the rest of the organization on board, and better prioritize key initiatives. 

You’ll then want to interview your steering committee members to understand the biggest challenges (or themes) they want to address, such as business process automation or data asset management. Once you have a holistic understanding of these themes, you can rank them in order of priority. Additionally, you can score them based on their ranking, and use those scores to weigh the most important priorities later on in the process. In Mark’s case, he assigned each of the top ten themes three points and gave other themes one point. 

Collect requirements 

Next, you’ll want to gather all of the business requirements needed to tackle the themes from the employees who face the problems day-to-day.

Add weights, themes, and tags

You should add weights to any requirement, such as business risk, compliance risk, ROI, time to revenue, or another competitive capability or strategic priority. And you should pair each requirement with a capability theme, the business function, and the process name. Getting all of this information together in one place can help as you build out your wider capability map later on. For example:

  • Business requirement: Ability to have a more automated registration process of biological therapeutics
  • Business function: R&D and Research
  • Business process: Manage Biologics
  • Capability theme: Business process automation and workflow 

Once you gather this information from key business stakeholders, you can refer back to it any time. 

Match technology solutions with problems

After gathering your requirements, you can reflect on the type(s) of technology that can solve each challenge. At this point, you’re not looking for a specific brand, just an overall solution. For example, you might need a CRM or an ERP to solve a problem. In some cases, multiple lines of business will need the same technology solution. The only way to really understand which tools each team needs is by looping in the appropriate functions and letting them weigh in on the discussions.

Mapping the tools you need to tackle different challenges on a sheet can help you visualize your team’s needs and avoid getting a bunch of unnecessary or duplicate tools down the road.

Prioritize and weigh projects

As you score different projects, you’ll want to reflect on how important they are to the business and the overall company goals. Also, after you’ve weighed and scored your requirements, you can roll them up into their respective projects, programs and initiatives. For details on calculating a score, you can jump to Mark’s example.

Build out your 3-year plan

After scoring each requirement, you can group them into a sheet with the following three columns: 

  1. A list of all of your requirements with their scores
  2. The initiatives that can meet your requirements 
  3. The programs and projects that can help you execute larger initiatives

For context: Mark suggests that initiatives are likely multi-year programs, while projects are month or quarter-based. 

Project Sequencing: Are you going in the right direction?

When you have your initiatives, programs, and projects, you can put them in a sequence to understand what needs to be done first, next, and what can wait. You can share this roadmap with stakeholders in your steering committee so they can understand when it will impact their function and make sure that you’re going in the right direction. 

Mapping out initiatives by year 

You can also map out your initiatives on a sheet over three years, but try to loop in IT before you discuss your plans with the business. You’ll want to make sure you have the right structures in place to even execute your plans and that they don’t limit IT in performing more essential tasks.

Constraints and the real roadmap 

Once you account for constraints, like budget or resources, you can make a proper multi-year roadmap that showcases the initiatives and projects you plan to work on based on your research, scoring, and discussions. Showcasing it in chunks can help senior leadership see the value of the projects. For example: In year 1 we’re stabilizing and preparing for growth and we’ll complete projects A, B, C, D to work towards that goal. 

How to maintain your roadmap

Now that you have your roadmap, what can you start doing to implement and maintain it? Here are some ideas: 

  • Implement a portfolio management system and dedicate a team to make sure you have a structure and organization to your plan   
  • Make sure you have individuals ready to refresh the roadmap along with annual budget changes 
  • Consider an enterprise capability mapping tool to help you visualize business needs by section, function group, and the capabilities they need to do their job. That way, you can link documents, websites and more on that map and see the organization at a glance, on one page.  

Want to learn more about building and maintaining business applications roadmaps? Ask other Business Technology professionals in our community! Request to join the Business Systems community.

Tayleur Hylton
About Tayleur Hylton

Tayleur is a budding technology enthusiast helping to grow the business systems community.