Why Do I Need a Technology Roadmap?

A September 2013 internet search for Five Year Technology Roadmap yielded over two million search results, including five-year technology plans for countries, cities, and major universities. The IT departments of most large organizations have a technology roadmap for their IT infrastructure. Yet most Security departments don’t have a roadmap for their electronic security systems technology.


Q: Our Company’s new IT director asked me to provide him with a physical security technology roadmap. What is it and why do we need one?

A: A technology roadmap is a plan that shows the organization’s needs relative to technology, and how technology will be applied to meet those needs. It is a primary means to build consensus for budgetary approvals and provides a framework for planning and coordinating technology deployments.

In small businesses, security technology planning is simpler. The owner/operator is involved enough in business operations to be aware of the obvious security risks, often after the fact of a security incident within the business or a neighboring business. The decisions are made by one or just a few people, and a security technology provider is engaged to install the desired technology.

In a larger organization responsibilities are divided across a number of executives and managers, who have some specific function of the business as their primary focus. Actions that cut across or impact multiple business functions require coordination and planning, and most importantly require that the key people be enlightened regarding the business reasons why proposed actions or expenditures are needed.

A technology roadmap is an effective tool for getting a sound plan, enlightening stakeholders, and gaining the organizational consensus and support needed for successful planning and coordination for security technology deployment.


Developing the Business Case

Within most functional areas of the business, operational needs— including technology needs— can be easily seen. Outside of each functional area, there is usually little awareness of the function’s technology needs. The needs must be clearly identified and documented so that they can be presented to the decision-makers and planners, who are then enabled to approve initiatives and authorize their expenditures. Thus the phrase Business Technology Needs Assessment gets over 49 million internet search results.

Getting high level approval for significant security technology investments requires a security technology needs assessment, followed by a high level plan of how specific technology will meet those needs, including what the costs will be and when the business can expect to start seeing results. That high level plan is the physical security technology roadmap.


Security Systems are IT Systems

Electronic security systems are IT (information technology) systems, since they are a computerized network of intelligent devices and sensors. Because of this it is completely appropriate for corporate security departments to follow the customary IT approach: (a) assess the technology needs of the business and (b) develop a sound technology roadmap.

There is an abundance of material on the internet that applies to small, medium and large businesses, including templates and “how-to” information for technology needs assessments. Most of the technology needs assessment material targets computer and network technology. But it can also be successfully applied to physical security technology.

If your IT department has a technology roadmap, you will probably find that it is captured in two documents: a detailed roadmap document, and a slide presentation for management. Get an introduction to the person who developed the roadmap or was an active part of the roadmap development team, and have the documents reviewed with you and your technology specialist.

Here are some reasons to arrange a briefing:

  • Find out how technology roadmap development has been successfully done within your organization.
  • Understand the plans for network infrastructure growth to know what network infrastructure will be available for security systems.
  • Discover what technology support resources are in place or planned that could help with security systems deployment.
  • Become aware of about the process IT uses to develop its technology standards and approved products list (APL).


Write to Ray about this column at ConvergenceQA@go-rbcs.com. Ray Bernard, PSP, CHS-III is the principal consultant for Ray Bernard Consulting Services (RBCS), a firm that provides security consulting services for public and private facilities. For more information about Ray Bernard and RBCS go to www.go-rbcs.com or call 949-831-6788.