Technology Roadmap: 5 Questions to Help You Get Started

As a business matures and grows in scale, it must adapt to industry changes and meet evolving customer and client expectations. Failure to do so will put it at a competitive disadvantage.

Smart adaptation and scaling require a plan – one that is data-driven, carefully researched, and keenly forecasted. And perhaps the most critical part of that plan is determining what (and how) technology tools will help your company achieve its short- and long-term business goals.

So begins the process of creating a technology roadmap.

Saxony’s Digital practice has helped companies large and small across a variety of industries document the current state of their technology ecosystem – and predict and plan for their future state. Here are a few key things to know about technology roadmapping and some questions to help you get started.

No. 1: What is a technology roadmap?

A technology roadmap is documentation of a company’s current technology inventory, as well as a strategy for identifying, adopting, and onboarding new tools over time in order to meet forecasts, future goals, and maintain a competitive advantage.

No. 2: Who benefits from it?

Your company: The process of developing a technology roadmap forces leaders from across your organization to think strategically about the future.

Your employees: Employees will have clear expectations about where the company is heading and what tools will take them there. It’s critical, therefore, to ensure that your roadmap includes specifics about internal communications and training.

Your customers: Customers and clients will benefit, as well, as these new tools impact user experience and can improve satisfaction.

No. 3: What does a technology roadmap look like?

A technology roadmap isn’t abstract. It’s an actual, physical document or diagram that shows what tools your company is currently utilizing, as well as updates, upgrades, and new implementations you are planning for the future.

Some are low-key in design, but highly detailed – like this example. Others are more design-centric and less detailed. And some are in-between. There’s no standard that works for everyone – the key is to create an actionable plan that clearly communicates where you are now, your strategy and plan for the future, what/how digital tools are going to get you where you want to be, and a detailed timeline for implementation.

No. 4: What elements must be included in a technology roadmap?

Irrespective of design, technology roadmaps should include the following elements.

Business goals and priorities: The key to determining your future technology needs is to identify your company’s priorities and goals in the near- and long-term. Using data and research as a guide, determine your strategic objectives and future growth trajectory, and assess what you need in order to achieve those milestones. What technology and tools would allow you to meet your goals and deliver a positive experience for customers and clients?

Technology deliverables: Once you have an idea of the tools you’ll need, document what they do and how they work. What insights can you expect to gain from a particular analytics platform. Will you have real-time data access from your cloud storage provider – and how will that data access impact your ability to do business? Will your new CRM offer tools to gauge client satisfaction? Incorporate these deliverables and expectations into your plan.

Key stakeholders: Consider the needs not only of your customers and clients, but of your staff. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, many companies will continue offering remote or flexible work arrangements for employees. Is your technology stack able to adapt to this new arrangement? Who is in charge of implementation? Who is on the hook for status-ing against your technology roadmap? Who is in charge of researching new technology solutions that may be incorporated into future plans? This should be documented within the roadmap, as well.

Implementation/release plans: Timelines and milestones for developing and implementing new technology need to be established and tracked in your roadmap. These need to be as detailed as possible. Also, be sure to incorporate a plan for communicating updates to your stakeholders.

Cost of investment: What is the estimated cost breakdown by initiative and in some cases, total cost of ownership of technology investments and resource plan? This must be included, as well.

Benchmarks and status: As the roadmap takes shape and begins to be implemented, you need a plan to keep everyone updated on your progress. If there will be any impact to customer and user experience, you need a proactive plan for communicating those impacts.

No. 5: Who needs to be involved in creating the technology roadmap?

Developing a technology roadmap is a total team effort. Consider that lengthy list of elements from the prior question and consider the people required to execute on those elements. Leadership will be tasked with identifying and forecasting short-, medium-, and long-term goals. IT, operations, and digital delivery staff will be charged with researching and tracking technology deliverables. Operations and human resources will consider impacts on internal stakeholders. Sales and client managers will focus on external stakeholder impact. Marketing and communications can focus on release plans and benchmarks. Legal should be involved whenever data and privacy are being considered. Needless to say, a technology roadmap isn’t owned by one person or department alone.

Technology roadmaps are critical tools for assessing the current state of your technology ecosystem, determining your company’s future needs, and devising a strategy for how to leverage technology to achieve that future state. If you need guidance from a trusted advisor with industry experience and technology expertise, Saxony Partners can help.