Business Strategy

The Ultimate Guide to Technology Roadmaps

Post by
Net Friends

Technology Roadmaps are a powerful tool that can help you capture your technology goals and make strategic decisions for your business over the scope of a year and beyond. But first, let's make sure you’ve picked up the right Ultimate Guide for your business.

Technology Roadmaps Are Intended For:

  • Decision-Makers who oversee technology purchases and projects
  • Finance Staff involved in IT budgeting and cost analysis
  • Technology Staff who manage IT change and growth

This Ultimate Guide to Technology Roadmaps provides an accessible, step-by-step process to creating a visual representation of your current and future technology plans. Through a series of approachable exercises, we will plot a course to achieve your vision of technology-enabled business growth using time as the primary measurement.

We will use time to track both what technology will remain in use, as well as what will be eliminated, replaced by a new tool, or overhauled entirely by new solutions leveraged by the business. In the end, you will have a visual illustration that captures your plans and facilitates a clear understanding of your technology decisions for multiple stakeholders in the business.

Why Businesses Are Using Technology Roadmaps

According to Gartner research, there are multiple business drivers for developing a Technology Roadmap, with the top two being:

  1. To improve or digitize existing products and services
  1. To enable digital business transformation and new business models

If you are responsible for the technology and IT decisions at your organization, you will want your first priority to be: create, or critically review if one already exists, the Technology Roadmap.

Far too often without a Technology Roadmap, crucial business decisions are delayed, or viewed as impossible to make, because key stakeholders cannot sufficiently engage to sign off on technology changes and approvals.

While this guide will focus on a comprehensive, business-wide Technology Roadmap, this approach and tool will work for individual business functions as well. At Net Friends, we see multiple uses for the exercises required for putting a roadmap together, which you'll discover later in our step-by-step guide.

Even if you start and temporarily abandon your quest to create the ultimate Technology Roadmap, we guarantee that your business will gain a lot of value from each hour you spend advancing your Technology Roadmap.

Visualizing the Technology Roadmap

It’s important before we go further that you see what a Technology Roadmap can look like. This example captures Communication Tools used within a business environment over the span of 12 months:

Time (measured here by quarters) is the primary measurement, or axis, that all information is centered around. It’s also important to list out your costs, as the sibling of all Technology Roadmaps is the IT Budget.

It's important to note that cost constraints are almost always the leading limitation for any planning document. Other limiting factors include: technical capabilities, available human resources to carry out change, and challenges that arise when attempting to align business decisions with the overall vision.

We’ve seen highly effective Technology Roadmaps that capture key indications about the life-cycle status for each row in the roadmap grid. While it's not emphasized here, nor do we think it is critical to include, we do recommend advancing your roadmap with the following optimization.

Net Friends Pro-Tip: Implement a color-coded system, or other visual markers, to represent the "phase" in which your technology solutions are situated (i.e. Implementation > Investment > Maintenance > Optimization > Retirement).

The following step-by-step process is parsed into more in-depth blog articles that will help you build an actionable Technology Roadmap for your business. Start with the first step and continue onto the following sections when you've completed each exercise.

Step 1: Define Your Business Goals

Before creating or executing a plan, it’s important to know your desired outcomes. The Technology Roadmap will help you capture a better idea of where you want to go, especially once you grasp its utility. What are your business goals? What technology gaps keep you from reaching your desired outcomes?

Step 2: Start Brainstorming & Creating Lists

Next, it's important to understand how your technology investments will help you reach those business goals and desired outcomes. This exercise will help you determine which technology solutions are serving your needs, holding you back, or missing altogether from your business.

Step 3: Capture IT Costs & Track Duration

Your Technology Roadmap is an essential companion to your IT Budget. This next exercise will help you link these two tools together and further assess the value of your current and future technology investments. Eliminate and replace investments that have failed to deliver their promised value.

Step 4: Schedule Routine Roadmap-Centric Discussions

The best way to maximize the utility of your Technology Roadmap is to consistently revisit it with your internal stakeholders. Weigh your ongoing decisions against your roadmap and address technology issues that have emerged since you last reviewed it. Is your business on or off track?

Step 5: Get Creative & Expand Your Roadmap

If you've made it this far, you are likely already benefiting from this powerful tool. Now it's time to leverage your Roadmap in new ways to unlock even more technology enhancements.

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