Technology Roadmap Essentials

What follows is an article written by Launch413 advisor Ali Usman and originally published on PixelEdge (his company’s site).

When building a new digital product, having a high-level technology roadmap can help in decision making and communicating with the rest of the team. While there is no standard one-size-fits-all template, there are a few key components to keep in mind:

  • Business Model

  • Technologies

  • Team

  • Prioritization

  • Budget

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Business Model

The business model outlines both the business and the product. Make particular note of the Business Description and Vision; it is important to articulate what the business as a whole does and how the new product fits in. Since revenue and marketing channels are key to a successful product, it is important to state them and keep updating them as the business model changes.

Elements of the business model can include the following:

  • Business description

  • Vision for the product and how it fits within the business

  • Key milestones

  • Types of users, for example, customers (tiers if applicable), internal team members, system administrators, and any other internal, partner, vendor, and supplier users

  • User Story map listing key functions of each user type

  • List of delivery channels — e.g. web, Android App, iOS App, Smart Speakers

  • Marketing channels

  • Revenue channels

Technologies

It’s important to assess technology needs from the ground up. One approach is to start with infrastructure and business needs. Another approach would start with the team. The most important thing is to categorize elements and deal with them point by point.

A sample approach is listed below:

Infrastructure

  1. Hosting environment (e.g. Amazon Web Services)

  2. Choice of technology platform unless the product is going to be completely custom

Business needs:

  1. In-sourcing, outsourcing, or co-sourcing

  2. On-shoring, off-shoring, or hybrid model

  3. Skill sets needed (see example below)

  4. Data Replication

  5. Data Backups

  6. Business Intelligence

  7. Email

  8. APIs

  9. Periodic Tasks

  10. Others

Programming

  1. Backend programming language (for example, Java, Php, or Python)

  2. Frontend

Programming Frameworks

  1. Backend

  2. Frontend

DevOps tools such as Pivotal Tracker and Github

Team

Product stakeholders have to decide on three key questions:

  1. In-sourcing, outsourcing, or co-sourcing

  2. On-shoring, off-shoring, or hybrid model

  3. Skill sets needed (see example below)

Identifying skill sets that the current team has and future needs:

  • Project Lead

  • Business Analyst

  • UX Design

  • Frontend Programmer

  • Backend Programmer

  • Database Engineer

  • Quality Assurance

  • Hosting DevOps Engineer

  • Integration Engineer

  • Security Engineer

  • Others

Prioritization

What goes into the beta, minimum viable product (MVP), V1.0, V1.1, V2.0, and beyond? Outlining the parameters of your product and product lifecycle is essential to the success of any business venture. Every product has a unique set of requirements, and therefore every product needs a unique set of guiding principles to help prioritize those requirements.

Budget

When budgeting the true total cost of technology projects, it’s important to remember that launch is just the beginning. A study by Stanford University found that up to 90% of the overall cost can come after the launch of V1.0.

Example of budget line items.

  1. Direct cost

  2. Indirect overhead cost

  3. Tools

  4. Hosting

  5. Things going wrong (meaning the risk factor)

  6. Technical Support

  7. Customer Support

  8. Quality Assurance

  9. Maintenance

  10. Bug fixes

  11. Updating underlying frameworks and operating systems

  12. Forward compatibility

  13. Enhancements