Friday, September 5, 2014

The Strategic Importance of Technology Roadmapping (Part 2 of 2)


How to Create a Technology Road Map

We recently published a blog entry about the importance of roadmapping. Roadmapping is an excellent way to align your technology with your company’s strategic goals. To recap Part 1, roadmapping is a visualization of how to tie a company’s technology needs to its new product development and strategy. Among the advantages, road mapping can: 

  • Help you arrive at a shared vision of your organization’s future,
  • Create a consensus on the needs and technologies required
  • Create a framework to plan and coordinate technology with future business activities

If you’re interested in reading the first part of the series, click here

To some smaller manufacturers in Michigan, roadmapping may sound complex or very technical. You may think it’s just for the larger manufacturer… but that’s not true!

Road Mapping is a Three-Step Process

Let’s say you want to test the waters with this concept. Among the most popular and simple ways to begin roadmapping is  with paper, Post-Its™ notes stuck on the wall or intro software. No matter which system you use, the basic process remains the same. Road mapping experts usually divide the process into three major stages:

1. The Preliminary Phase

To start, you need to assemble your team, get support from leaders in the company, and define the scope and boundaries of the road map.

2. The Development Phase

The second phase starts with selecting  the product or department that will be the focus of the road map. Then, you need to identify critical system requirements and major technology areas. For each technology alternative, you will need to create a timeline. This element can drastically impact your evaluation of the situation. As you develop the road map, you will see that the alternatives differ in timeline, costs and other aspects. These will influence your decision on the final road map—which will be the product of Phase Two.

3. Follow-Up Activities

At this point, you need to review, critique and validate the road map with the group that will be involved in its implementation. You also need to create a schedule for periodic review to see how the road map is working and/or needs are evolving.

Roadmapping is Concrete and Practical

If this process sounds abstract to you, think again. It’s really not! The beauty of the concept is that it takes abstract ideas and/or lists, ties them together and then converts all that information into a graphical representation. The Technology roadmap is often the link between a strategic company objective and an identified technology solution. It answer the questions – Why am I doing this? What is the value? And what is the benefit to the end user? –which can be an internal or external customer.

general motors uses technology road mapping
Many companies have benefited from roadmapping since Motorola began using the concept in the 1970s. Take General Motors, for example. Years ago, General Motors executives got tired of making “lists of lists.” They needed some way to capture and connect information to make sure they had the right technology in the pipeline for product development and innovation. They turned to roadmapping as a solution. With the road maps they developed, they were able to review their global product portfolio, communicate more easily among different parts of the corporation and avoid the duplication efforts that were going on. All it took was creating and using corporation-wide road maps.

Your company may not be the size of GM, but the principles remain the same. It is critical in today’s economy to stay on top of your company’s technology needs and make sure they are tied to your present product line, future product plans and strategy.

Try experimenting with this technique and your strategic planning process will become easier and more successful!

Since 1991, MMTC has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses compete and grow. Through personalized services fitted to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at www.mmtc.org


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