Planning for People Within Your Technology Road Map: What path are you taking?

AuthorJones, Nate

A road map lays out the path to get from where you are today to where you want to be in the future. In technology settings, the term is often used to conceptualize the work that needs to be completed for a technology solution to be ready for use. However, merely being ready for use isn't enough to make a technology successful. For a technology to be successful, people need to use it to improve their lives. Instead of a generic road map, as in Figure 1 on the next page, consider a more detailed plan like a step-by-step timeline for Thanksgiving dinner (Figure 2).

At the end of the Thanksgiving dinner road map, the meal has been served successfully at the table. However, even the detailed Thanksgiving dinner road map lacks a critical component: people. After all, what good is successfully serving the meal with no people to consume and enjoy it? In the same way that the goal of Thanksgiving dinner is more than getting a meal on the table, the goal of technology is more than putting a new tool in people's hands by a certain date and time. The goal of technology is to improve the lives of the stakeholders.

Build a People Road Map

The following four basic steps will help you build a road map that is actionable and effective.


The goal of identifying stakeholders is a list of the names and groups you need to plan for.

In a tax department, the people and groups to consider map onto three broad categories of a business' stakeholders:

* Customers and clients. The people served by the work and therefore directly or indirectly affected by any technological changes (including internal customers and clients).

* Business and organization. At an overall level, the organization you work for. But it is still important to make a list of stakeholders within the organization, since they are affected by any technological changes. Additionally, an organization's stakeholders typically must approve changes, so understanding who will sign off on them will help when tailoring any messages about the changes.

* Employees. The people who do the work that is served to the client. Leaders of tax departments likely fall into this category to some degree. The employee stakeholders are often the group that benefits most directly from a new technology.

Work your way through your stakeholder groups and compile a list of relevant individuals. Although it's not always possible to assign a name to each stakeholder, it helps greatly in the next step to do so.

If you do find yourself with a group of people representing a stakeholder group, try to break the group down to the one person who embodies the core characteristics of the group. For example, if your stakeholder group is a board of directors, consider creating a persona that embodies everything the...

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