Uses and Caveats of Technology Roadmapping

This is part 3 of my first look in technology roadmapping. Part 1 and 2 are here and here respectively.

As mentioned earlier, technology roadmapping is not limited to a single product. Phaal et al. (2004) identified eight different types of roadmaps which may be used for different purposes. These eight types will not be discussed here and only a subset will be briefly described. One type is a product planning roadmap used for a single product. For instance, a product planning roadmap would be used in conjunction with the technology roadmap (shown here) to show, in more detail, the roadmap of the product. Another roadmap that Phaal et al. have identified is labelled as “service/ capability planning” which is designed for businesses in the services markets. It is worth noting that this type of roadmap bears a number of similarities with the balanced scorecard, except that it incorporates the time dimension. Another type of roadmap is referred to as the strategic planning roadmap which is the one depicted in Figure 1. Lastly, Phaal et al. identified a roadmap type which they labelled as “Long-range planning.” This type of roadmap is normally used at the sector or national level and is developed to serve as a guide for participating organisations in developing their own individual roadmaps. Regardless of their differences, a common theme among these roadmaps is the integration of market requirements with technological capabilities to achieve the goals of the business or an industry.

The use of technology roadmapping clearly provides advantages to a firm in that it allows it to link the needs of its customers with the technologies and capabilities that it needs to produce or acquire. Some scholars warn, however, that while technology roadmapping sounds straightforward enough in writing, putting it into practice requires considerable resources and commitment. Groenveld in 1997 stated that “the process of building a roadmap…is less simple. Differences in background, thinking and ways of working among different departments (marketing, development, manufacturing, etc.) need to be reconciled.” Thus, it needs to be stressed that while technology roadmapping provides management with a better means to strategically manage the technologies available to the company, it is not a silver bullet. Complementing it with excellent leadership and project management skills is critical and remains indispensable in today’s business environment.

This concludes my first look at technology roadmapping. For a list of references, please see the first post of this series.

Further Reading

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2 Comments

Filed under Innovation, Strategic Planning, Tools

2 responses to “Uses and Caveats of Technology Roadmapping

  1. Wow, small world. I just last week started a new blog on the subject of technology roadmapping and today I came across your blog here.

    Nice job, Mark. You’ve captured the sense of technology roadmapping very well. When these ideas make it out into the corporate world, things get a bit fuzzier. I’ve been working with a few companies over the last two years implementing these processes (and my employer’s software application) and I’ve seen a few failure points over and over.

    The two most important keys that my co-workers and I have been able to identify are strong executive sponsorship and cross-functional participation. (Roadmapping is like every other process in this sense) A lot of people are tired of the “initiative of the month” and are they’re wary of consultants coming in with another “new” way of saving the company. Executive sponsorship is key there, and my company works really hard with our clients to get them to adopt roadmapping and then to integrate it into their existing planning processes. Also, we’ve seen the initiation of a roadmapping workshops fail more than once when the wrong group of people are invited to participate. If all you see at the workshops are engineers, you know you’re in trouble.

    I look forward to reading the rest of your posts here, now that I’ve discovered the blog. Thanks for taking the time to share your interests with us.

    🙂
    Peter

  2. Thanks for visiting, Peter. I agree that while technology roadmapping sounds straightforward enough, it does get hairy when one starts applying it. Any lessons learned on the implementation of technology roadmapping is very important which is why your site will be prove itself to be invaluable in no time at all. Do keep us updated on your roadmapping experiences, Peter. I’ll be visiting your site often.

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