The first step in our Ultimate Guide to Technology Roadmaps is to understand the utility of this powerful tool and use it to define your business goals. It is common for organizations to use Technology Roadmaps to gain a competitive edge in their market. How will your business leverage a Technology Roadmap?
The Value of a Technology Roadmap
There's no argument: illustrations are very useful. Ideally, when we can conceptualize a plan through visuals, we can fully engage with it far better than a written body of text. A list of bullet points or a detailed spreadsheet has some value, but a graph or timeline based on that same data will truly bring a point home with greater success.
Drafting an accurate and compelling visualization of your strategic plan will help cement the Technology Roadmap as a powerful tool in your business. When you don’t have to spend as much effort processing the material, then you can spend more time identifying gaps or brainstorming new ideas.
A Technology Roadmap can be used to:
- Determine IT costs for a specific time period
- Identify technology gaps that keep your business from advancing
- Assess how technology solutions adds or detracts from strategic goals
- Plan when legacy technology will retire
- Prepare operations for new technology integrations
This tool has proven to be so useful to our decision-making process at Net Friends that a core team meets every 2 weeks to track our Technology Roadmap progress. We have used this tool to measure whether we are on or off track, clarify our desired outcomes, and quickly evaluate any technology that underperforms.
For most people, it’s very hard to picture the plan and timeline for technology improvements unless there is a high-level map to reference. A document of acronym-filled words with dollar figures isn’t going to bring out the best decisions from your team. That approach cannot sufficiently capture your short-term and long-term goals.
If done properly, a Technology Roadmap will help any decision-maker in your organization have a visual reference of what technology changes are planned for the next 12 months, and beyond.
When a pain point surfaces in your business and solutions are proposed, the first thing you should do is check whether it's already captured on your Technology Roadmap. If not, then the Roadmap may need to be adjusted. You can easily postpone or pivot away from planned future technology enhancements when you have a tool like this to weigh your decisions.
For most small businesses operating without a Technology Roadmap, the task of developing one may seem daunting. But here's the catch: Roadmaps do not need to be overly complex or intimidating. Establishing your first iteration is more accessible than you think.
You can start with a simple approach like this example below and focus on a single-functional area:
Now that you understand the value of a Technology Roadmap, you can reflect on your business goals.
Before creating or executing a plan, it's important to know your desired outcomes. What do you want to achieve in the business over the next 12 months? What desired outcomes will be your indicators of success?
These are all big questions, and hopefully it's evident that a Technology Roadmap will help you narrow down where you want to take your business. As a tool, it will also help you measure progress as you execute your plans and advance towards your end goal.
If identifying a target outcome is too daunting, this next exercise will help illuminate and clarify your desired outcomes by facilitating a critical assessment of your current and future technology solutions.