Technology roadmapping is a comprehensive approach for strategic thinking to integrate science/ technological considerations into product and business aspects. Whereas, a roadmap is a result of this analysis.
“Roadmapping” and “Roadmap” are words describing the process and the product of roadmapping process, respectively. Technology roadmapping is simply defined as a process to portray the integration of science/technological considerations into product and business planning as well as to provide a way to identify, evaluate, and select alternatives that can be used to achieve a desired objective. Their popular applications are for developing strategies, planning resources, and identifying gaps and opportunities in R&D.
A roadmap, a product of roadmapping process, is generally presented in a form of a time-based diagram with multi-layers linking technology-related issues to business decisions. The system thinking approach must be applied to analyze the change of elements—business, markets, products, technology, R&D, and recourses—and the impacts of those changes on an organization over time.
Figure 1 presents a generic form of a product-technology roadmap. In this roadmap, business drivers; D2 and D3, are determined to be key forces that will drive business changes in the future. These changes would lead to a potential market opportunity as presented by M2 on the diagram. To capture this opportunity, an organization plans to launch a new product called P2 of which the design and development requires a new technology known as T2. An organization also needs to invest in research and development activities; RD3, to make T2 ready for use by the time it is needed.
To develop a product-technology roadmap, the analysis of TRM process can be divided into five steps addressing business drivers, market opportunities, product, technology, and resource, respectively.
Here are the example of tools that can be applied for supporting the analysis
To maintain the TRM process on a continuous basis, it is vital to integrate the process into ongoing business and technology planning activities in an organization. Gerdsri proposes to view the implementation of TRM in three stages according to the different objectives in each stage as shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1: Different Stages of TRM Implementation
It is important for an organization to have a certain managerial procedure for monitoring the status of a roadmap. The mechanisms for data collection and analysis should also be defined to track changes and evaluate the impacts of changes from both external and internal factors on a roadmap. Once the impacts from the changes have gone beyond the acceptable level of an organization, a roadmap should then be considered to make an amendment. In this study, the managerial procedure is proposed in five steps as shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1: The conceptual framework to assess the TRM status signal by considering the impacts of changes from both internal and external factors
The first step is to apply a roadmap after it has been developed. All involved people can refer to a roadmap and use it as checkpoints at each key milestone. Some involved teams can also manage their operation in accordance with the plan and timeline initially set on a roadmap. Thus, the plan which identified on a roadmap should be clearly communicated to all stakeholders. This would help ensure the achievement of the strategic targets within a specified timeline identified on a roadmap.
The second step is to monitor the changes from both internal and external factors as specified on a roadmap. The components of external factors can be considered from social, technology, economic, environmental, policy, whereas internal factors can be considered from the progress of technology development.
The third step is to assess the impacts of changes on a roadmap. As the changes from the external and/or internal factors have already been notified, the identified changes will be used in this step to evaluate the impacts of the changes on a roadmap. Different organizations have different perception on the impacts of the changes. Some organizations are sensitive to the changes while the others are not. Therefore, this step is defined based on the perception of the organization.
The fourth step is to generate the TRM status signal. After evaluating the impacts of changes from both internal and external factors, the TRM status signal can be generated and visualized in the form of color-coded signals; red, yellow, and green.
The fifth step is the step which management makes a final decision whether a roadmap needs to be slightly adjusted, totally revised, or just kept it unchanged.
Throughout this procedure, the TRM operation team is responsible to monitor the changes of external and internal factors and then assess the impact of changing conditions on a roadmap. If the changes are more severe than the initial anticipation, the TRM status signal will indicate that a roadmap needs to be updated or totally revised. The TRM operation team has to inform the management team. The management will review their business contexts and decide whether they would follow the suggested TRM status signal. If so, then the management has to communicate their new vision and strategy to the TRM operation team.
The TRM operation team will take action to engage involved parties to review a roadmap. Once a roadmap has been revised, the updated version of a roadmap should be communicated again to all related stakeholders. Then, the stakeholders can brush up their plan and manage their operation in accordance with the updated roadmap. Figure 2 presents the roles and interaction between the management team and TRM operation team in monitoring the status of a roadmap and making decisions to review a roadmap.
Figure 2: Roles and interaction between the management and TRM operation team in monitoring the status of a roadmap and making decisions to review a roadmap.