Technology Roadmap – Should it start with Corporate Strategy and end with concrete outcomes?

What should give birth to a Tech project? A series of User Empathy sessions or a new fascinating technology? Where should a technology roadmap starts – from customer interactions or exploration of upcoming technologies or the project wishlist of a technology leader? If so, what about the Accountability, Attribution and Return-On-Investment? Instead, should Corporate Strategy be giving birth to it while strategic targets play the yardstick of performance?Make Corporate Strategy the language of Tech Roadmaps.

The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do – Michael Porter

In today’s world, no business or industry is untouched by Technology. Digital revolution has started a while back and is still underway. Given Tech’s omnipresence, strategic importance and the cost it incurs to an organization, it’s very crucial to use Tech resources diligently. Technology roadmap, which is generally created annually, sets the direction for the upcoming year. Then the question is where should it be created from?

Methodology to Define Tech Roadmap

If the Technology roadmap is driven by the feedback from user empathy sessions, user interviews or upcoming technologies or interests of a Tech Leader, it may soon diverge from the Strategy. Corporate Strategy should be the Origin of Tech Roadmaps. Here is a methodology I believe helps to create effective tech roadmaps.

  • Understand different aspects of Corporate Strategy
  • Define Tech’s role in achieving it. Define the role in terms of different aspects/streams of corporate strategy
  • Align the streams of corporate strategy to the Tech organization’s hierarchy
  • Each Tech Department should take on one or more streams which set the department roadmap
  • Split each stream into further granular pieces that should define the project themes
  • Onboard each new project by tying it to a stream of corporate strategy
  • Define project outcome in terms of strategic objectives to which project contributes to
  • Educate the entire project team on the strategic initiative and the expected outcome
  • Measure the outcomes when the project is delivered and put to use
  • Make sure all strategic initiatives are fully covered by the projects

The above methodology has a few distinct advantages, in my opinion.

  • Brings the Corporate Strategy to grassroots of the organization where each individual is educated and empowered to contribute to it
  • Makes it possible to define concrete Return on Investment in terms of not just dollar amount but in terms of strategic initiatives as well. If a given project cannot be aligned with the strategy, it can be dropped – hence the resources can be used very efficiently.
  • Saves cost in terms of both dollar amount and opportunity. It keeps individuals motivated by helping them understand how their work contributes to the organization.

In today’s world, technology¬†is the fuel every business runs on. This puts tech roadmaps at the center of corporate strategy. I believe the above methodology keeps tech roadmaps in sync with the strategy.

I welcome all the comments and views. Feel free to share.


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