What is a technology roadmap?

A technology roadmap, also called an IT roadmap, visualizes how IT will evolve to support the business and its core products. Technology roadmaps outline the "why," "what," and "when" of major IT investments before you start the "how" — the development and implementation work. These roadmaps are essential to getting complex work done — such as addressing technical debt, infrastructure, and growth-oriented innovation.

The technology roadmap is typically owned by the engineering and operations teams. After all, these teams are focused on the components, systems, and processes that help other internal teams deliver products and services to external customers.

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What to consider when building a technology roadmap

Having a strategic IT roadmap helps you move from reactively responding to tactical requests to proactively planning the technical capabilities your organization will need long-term. Here are a few things to consider when building your own strategic roadmap:

Customers matter

Understanding who your colleagues are is a fundamental step towards building your roadmap. You need to know their challenges and needs. You need to talk to them about the solutions you are proposing.

Ask colleagues for ideas and feedback. Tell them what is coming next. Cross-functional collaboration builds goodwill and keeps everybody in sync.

IT goals should align with company goals

The work that IT does supports the teams that serve external customers. So the goals for your IT department should align with broader company goals as well. The work that you include on your technology roadmap should ultimately deliver value to the business.

Connect goals with initiatives

Before getting into tactical planning, agree on the initiatives or large areas of work that will help you achieve your goals. Whether you call these initiatives, themes, or epics, it is crucial that you visually link them to the goals on your technology roadmap. Later, determine the detailed work that belongs to each initiative. When you connect goals with initiatives on your roadmap, your audience is able to see how your plans help advance your strategy.

Real-time updates are key

You may have put together a technology roadmap at the beginning of the year — but have you updated it recently? How often do you share it with the rest of the organization? Your roadmap should be up-to-date and connected to real work. That way, people can navigate to the details they need and locate the status of work-in-progress.

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