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Visualizing Strategic and Technology Roadmaps

Visually communicating your Strategic and Technology Roadmap is an important part of telling your strategy story. Visualizing your plans can help communicate a complex and evolving plan to your audience, pointing them to the key factors and decisions that will make your plan a success.

Two key visualizations create a sound foundation for a strategic or technology roadmap:

  • Technology Roadmap. The time-based Roadmap shows the evolution of technologies or capabilities that will achieve your objectives over time. There are almost as many formats for roadmaps as there are roadmappers, but nearly all roadmaps include a time-based graph that describes how technology, product, markets, etc. are expected to evolve over time. Sometimes the roadmap includes progress milestones in performance or features. Some roadmaps include linkages to show how the elements of the roadmap are driven by strategy, customer needs, or technology innovations.

  • Figure 1 Product-Technology Roadmap

    Here's how to read the technology roadmap: We are currently using existing technology 1 (which we developed ourselves) to implement Element A, and we have a plan to replace it with technology 2 (that we will obtain from a supplier) in 2010. For Element B, we are using technology 3 and we will use a cost reduced version of technology 3 obtained from a supplier in 2008. Element C uses technology a and technology b (which we developed with a partner). The roadmap includes a “Vision” for Element C, that is at some unspecified time in the future, we see the ultimate technology for Element C will be technology e. Technology e is currently unplanned (“we don’t have a current plan to implement”), but we hope to obtain technology e from research.

    The roadmap in Figure 2 adds information about development plans for some critical technologies. For technology 2 to be ready in 2010, we must begin development in 2008 and demonstrate feasibility in mid-2009. We must begin to work with a supplier in 2009 to have technology 6 ready for inclusion in the product in 2010.

    Figure 2 Technology Roadmap with Development Intervals

    Some roadmap formats display the evolution of multiple layers of Market, Product and Technology. Figure 3 shows a multi-layer roadmap where the idea is to show relationships among the markets, products, and technologies involved in the plan.

    Figure 3 Layered Roadmap

    It is sometimes helpful to show links and dependencies among the elements. In Figure 4, the connections from technologies to products shows how products depend on technologies. For example, Model 1 requires Tech a and Model 2 depends on Tech b.

    Figure 4 Layered Roadmap with Links

    Innovation scorecards accompany a roadmap and document its visual elements. For key technologies or capabilities innovation scorecards consisely describe--in one or a few pages--future objectives and how to get there:

    • The need or issue addressed.
    • Performance improvement or expected benefits.
    • Competitive solutions.
    • Risks, roadblocks, barriers.
    • Work by others that may be leveraged.
    • Timing: When technology/capability could be ready for use.
    Innovation scorecards provide a framework for tracking progess in developing and acquiring technologies.

  • Driver Map. When the linkages from the market to products to technologies are important to the roadmapping story, a Driver Map helps to show how the key drivers of the plan are related. Customer (or Stakeholder) Drivers (The things customers want to accomplish, sometimes called jobs) are connected to Product Drivers (the key performance measures or features on which customers make buying decisions). The Product (or Capability) Drivers are connected to the Technology Elements (the Product & Service Architecture Elements).

    For example in this Driver Map Stakeholder Driver 1 motivates Capability Driver A. In turn, Product Driver A requires Technology 1 and Technology 4.

    Figure 5 Driver Map

  • Roadmapper's Workbench™. In the course of developing roadmaps with teams in multiple industries over the past few years, we created the tools of Roadmapper's Workbench™ to help roadmap developers. Roadmapper's Workbench™ is an easy to use, lightweight tool for Roadmap capture, documentation and visualization. While we no longer support Roadmapper's Workbench™, if you have been a client and/or a user of Roadmapper's Workbench™ and you need a current copy, please Contact me