The growing cost and complexity of technology development, combined with the rapid changes in the competitive landscape drive executives to explore enhanced processes to create and deliver value to customers.
Technology roadmapping is a framework used to effectively plan and manage the development of technological solutions to achieve both short-term and long-term goals. A roadmap is a visual tool that helps organisations understand customer requisites and map the commercial and technological requirements to fulfill those needs over time. It provides a blueprint to analyse and explore the evolution of the proposed solutions over time.
The examination of roadmapping in practice demonstrates its flexibility and reveals its potential to be used as a tool across many areas of an organisation, but the utilisation of roadmapping as a standalone tool does not allow business executives to make strategic decisions that build competitive advantage in dynamic environments, as it fails to provide a holistic view of the industry, the customer, and the firm’s internal capabilities.
Alongside the use of roadmaps, organisations are likely to use other frameworks such as the Five Forces Model, and the Business Model Canvas to enhance the product development process. Although the utilisation of varied tools in isolation, especially amongst different departments, can create silos and hinder success, as teams are unable to connect all the aspects that make the full picture, therefore are not positioned to make the best decisions.
Integrating Roadmaps with strategic tools
The Value-Driven Technology Roadmap (VTRM) is a visual framework developed by Fenwick, Daim, and Gerdsri, to promote strategic and tactical alignment when roadmapping. It unifies multiple marketing and decision-making tools in one exercise using the five layers below to provide a comprehensive roadmap:
- Evaluation of the current market to define a value proposition, and prioritisation key value-drivers for potential customers
- Identification of possible market opportunities.
- Use the defined value proposition to design suitable solutions.
- Explore and compares suitable technologies for the development of those products or services.
- Assess the internal resources and capabilities needed to develop or acquire the technology needed to bring the solution to market.
The five layers outlined above are bound by a predecessor relationship, but a strict “top-down” approach isn’t applicable. Even though the prescribed structure governs the workflow, there is a need for continuous cross-layer collaboration in order to reach a point where each level is refined.
The overwhelming influence external factors have in roadmaps, create a problem in relation to the flexibility of VTRM. Although strategic and decision-making tools were added to VTRM, the model fails to incorporate strategies to build robust solutions in dynamic environments.
While in “Roadmapping for Dynamic and Uncertain Environments”, Strauss and Radnor (2004) propose a combination of scenario planning, a method to help managers define and analyse the impact of a range of possible future developments, and road mapping that enables managers to investigate and prepare in dynamic environments.
However, Strauss and Radnor fail to address the utilisation of marketing and strategic tools to build solid foundations for roadmapping.
Dynamic Value-Driven Roadmaps
To address those gaps I suggest the combination of both VTRM and Scenario Planning, resulting in a Dynamic Value-driven Technology Roadmap.
As a tool, the Dynamic Value-driven Technology Roadmap would enable product managers to marry the dimensions of a dynamic industry, the customer current and future needs, and the firm’s internal capabilities.
Adding to VTRM a layer of proactive investigation of possible market shifts to build a dynamic roadmap that:
- leverages key milestones to identify possible development diversions
- opens windows to prepare for change
- allows for multiple forks of diverging flows that help product teams use speculative design techniques
Designing and maintaining processes of a Dynamic Value-driven Technology Roadmap, that truly embraces the impermanence of the market is a complex task as it requires a high-level of collaboration and frequent maintenance, so the utilisation of technology to support it is essential. However, the combination of both VTRM and Scenario Planning can improve the output by producing dynamic products, and increase the flexibility of the roadmap.
Ultimately, Dynamic Value-driven Technology Roadmaps have the potential to become a central framework that integrates strategy and tactics, creates alignment, breaks organizational silos and develops a collective understanding of the market, client, product, technology and internal environment.