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What is a technology roadmap? A plan for managing digital transformation

With technology comes constant change — and that’s why it is more important than ever to have a solid technology roadmap to help plan for your company’s future.

A technology roadmap is a document or guide that outlines an organization’s technology initiatives, products, services and strategies. It details the technology your business is already using, what you will need to implement in the future, how to avoid risks and costly mistakes and how to upgrade outdated technologies.

Your business’ strategy and goals are a key element of a technology roadmap — the document helps organizations visualize new strategies to ensure they align with current or future business initiatives.

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The benefits of a technology roadmap

Technology roadmaps can help organizations to both understand current needs and predict future needs, making it easier to determine technology requirements. Technology roadmaps also give companies a framework for surviving more turbulent times and help them quickly adapt if the technology landscape changes in their industry.

Because roadmaps include detailed information about current and past IT systems, they can be used as tools for measuring the success of products or technical initiatives. Moreover, given the pace of technological change, a roadmap can dispel a lot of uncertainty across departments and get everyone aligned under the same goals by providing employees outside of IT better insight into the company’s technology initiatives.

Technology roadmap process

A technology roadmap is created by a group of individuals from relevant departments. These individuals are tasked with building a roadmap that takes into consideration technology needs, departmental needs, the corporate strategy and overall business goals. The roadmap should be a document that offers stability and transparency during the rocky process of digital transformation.

There are three phases to consider when developing a technology roadmap:

  • Preliminary phase: In the first phase of creating a technology roadmap, it’s important to establish leadership and sponsorship for the roadmap. You’ll want to settle on what will be included in the final roadmap and establish what needs will be met by the roadmap. It’s during this phase that decision makers establish and identify key problems that can be solved through technology road-mapping.
  • Development phase: The second phase is when your organization will create the physical roadmap document. In this phase, it’s important to establish what product to focus on, what critical systems that product interacts with, specify all the key technology areas, drivers and targets and to recommend potential technology alternatives.
  • Follow-up activity phase: The third phase is when the completed roadmap is evaluated to see whether it needs improvements or changes. The roadmap is then used to create a plan for evolving the business’ technology.

Technology roadmap template

Designing a template for a technology roadmap boils down to personal preference — but most use icons, color coding, flow charts and other visual tools. The roadmap should include detailed timelines so other departments involved understand when services will be up and running. While a roadmap needs to be detailed, it also needs to remain flexible to accommodate changes that pop up along the way. Technologies might change, needs might shift or plans might fall through, so the roadmap needs to plan for the future but still be able to adapt to uncertainty.

Ultimately, you want your roadmap to be an easy-to-read and accessible document for its audience. Your roadmap essentially needs to sell your employees on whatever strategy, upgrade or product update your company is planning, so it’s a key step when you’re trying to get everyone on board with a new initiative.  

Technology roadmap tools and software

There are plenty of tools and software too choose from when building a technology roadmap template. These tools help organizations design visually appealing technology roadmaps collaboratively by enabling team members to share, edit, monitor and update the roadmap as it evolves.

The tools and software you choose will depend on your business’ needs and what you want to gain from your technology roadmap, but these products are a great place to start:

  • Aha!
  • Asana
  • Confluence
  • Monday
  • Microsoft Flow
  • ProductBoard
  • ProductPlan
  • Roadmunk
  • Targetprocess
  • Trello
  • Wrike