In Part 1 of this post, I offered five tips for building effective technology roadmaps. While the process is complex and nuanced, creating your roadmap is actually the easy part. The bad news is that using your roadmap—implementing it, to use the buzzword—is where things get tough. The good news is that this is also when real value can be created.
Like roadmaps themselves, there is no “one size fits all” formula for using a roadmap properly. To be successful, the roadmap must integrate with your existing business and technology planning processes, organizational structures, and information systems.
Effectively implementing a roadmap is hard enough for individual companies, research labs, or government programs, but it’s even harder for collaborative roadmaps—roadmaps developed and used by groups of organizations working together at an industry or sector level. Such roadmaps present unique challenges, such as competing interests, differing tolerances for risk, varying degrees of technical expertise, and the lack of a single point of authority for decision making.
But, fear not!
I’ve reflected on the 150 or so roadmaps I’ve helped to produce to identify what separates those that are useful from those that sit on shelves collecting dust. Below are five tips for creating roadmaps that deliver real value:
- Focus on the outcomes—Successful roadmap implementation does not begin when the roadmap is finished. Implementation models should be a major factor early in the process when you envision your roadmap and the process you use to create it. By understanding how you will use your roadmap, you can be sure the roadmap contains the information, structure, and support necessary for success.
- Seek unity of effort—No roadmap is implemented by one person. Indeed, the chief value of roadmaps is their ability to align the efforts of many toward shared goals. Your roadmap process can be structured in a way that builds shared commitment, helps align missions, and defines roles and responsibilities across organizations. Doing so while you build your roadmap is essential for creating the expectations and relationships needed to implement it through coordinated action.
- Build it in rings—How can you engage the dozens or hundreds of people who will use your roadmap in the roadmap development process without that process getting out of control? You build it in rings, like a bulls-eye target. Start with small and appropriate groups for specific activities, like the most senior executives for visioning and goal setting. As the roadmap progresses and grows, pull in more people to contribute, confirm, add, validate, and ultimately act upon your roadmap.
- It’s ALIVE! Keep it that way—A roadmap, like anything that deals with the future, deals with uncertainty. New information is constantly becoming available, and your organization and the outside world do not stand still. To remain relevant and useful, roadmaps must be “living” documents that are monitored and updated regularly to reflect new data, technology advances, and changing business conditions.
- Remember, one size does not fit all—No external consultant understands the unique challenges your organization faces better than you do. Beware of firms trying to sell you a standard system or approach. Too often, this approach results in a thoughtful roadmap that offers potential in theory but is dead on arrival in practice because it cannot be implemented within the reality of your operations. That’s why Nexight’s approach focuses on customizing your roadmap to your unique situation and requirements.
Using these tips cannot only help you build an effective roadmap, but also implement it to extract maximum value. Now, get to work! Or, give me a call to get started.