Roadmapping has been used in industry for a while and recently has been extensively scientifically analyzed and further developed. All companies from corporations to SMEs need a quick and effective opportunity to deal with the topic of roadmapping, identify new technologies and embed them in their own corporate strategy. The invention of the smartphone or digital photography illustrates how long-established industries and manufacturers can be displaced within only a decade. Thus, it’s essential to actively use robust methods such as roadmapping – to stay ahead of the competition. In addition to internal company roadmapping (technological and strategic roadmap), open innovation roadmapping is another form of roadmapping that can bundle the knowledge of an “ecosystem“ and make it usable for all stakeholders.
The figure below contains the necessary steps of creating and communicating roadmaps. Those steps are decisive for success and can be implemented with varying intensity depending on the individual company.
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Let’s break down each step of the figure below.
First Things First: The Objectives of Roadmapping
What do we want to achieve with roadmapping in our company? This is the first question to ask yourself when working on roadmapping.
Depending on the objective, roadmapping offers a structured and simple overview of temporal and logical correlations relating to technology. This, in turn, can be used for communication at all levels – from employees to the executive board – in order to create a uniform understanding.
In addition to visualization, the roadmap also supports the focus on certain innovation activities and, thus, facilitates strategic prioritization. This allows shortcomings in the planning to be identified (e.g. white spots) and minimization of risks to be achieved. A further objective can be the gain in knowledge, in addition to the finished roadmap, e.g. supported by software solutions.
Scholars at the Institute for Manufacturing (IfM) of the University of Cambridge developed the concept of “Roadmapping Roadmapping R2” which takes into account the short, medium, and long-term goals pursued with roadmapping as well as the available resources when introducing the roadmapping method. They developed a template that breaks down the key aspects of the introduction of the roadmapping method based on these four key questions:
- Why should roadmapping be introduced? The current status, as well as the short- and medium-term needs and expected results of roadmapping are elaborated here.
- What does perfect roadmapping look like in the future? What contribution can roadmapping make to business success in the future? How should the roadmapping process be structured in the future? Which resources and capacities are needed to realize the long-term vision of roadmapping?
- What has to be done in the short term and how? What is the current status of the roadmapping processes and what should be achieved in the short term? What resources and capacities are available to me?
- What needs to be done and how in the medium term? What should our roadmapping process look like in the medium term? What resources and capacities are available to me?
4 Types of Roadmaps To Know
Depending on the objectives for which the roadmaps are used for, there are typically four types of roadmaps:
This focuses on one or more technologies – independent of suppliers on the market. The result of such a technology roadmap is an overview of opportunities and risks (and/or barriers) for the management. It often makes sense for the results of a technology roadmap to also be presented in a technology radar.
Product and Innovation Roadmap
The range of services can also be the focus of a roadmap. This refers to the current and future product range. Product and innovation roadmaps deal with the planning of new products and innovative development projects – often taking into account the underlying technologies.
Integrated roadmaps consider several topics in parallel, such as product and technology planning. Depending on the focus, a roadmap comprises different dimensions in different depths: products, technologies, markets, resources, drivers, projects, goals or milestones.
This type is a special form of the integrated roadmap. The company is regarded as an overall system. Technologies and products of a company are evaluated in the ‘’total ecosystem’’ of the company. This means that existing technologies can be brought into relation to new products (technology push), which in turn are identified by existing trends and drivers. But also, the opposite (market pull) is conceivable.
Who are the Participants and What is the Commitment?
A roadmap promotes communication in a company and therefore it is not just a tool for management. The explicit goal must be to integrate the affected departments into the process as early as possible. Clear responsibility for method competence, coordination and input must be communicated and lived as clearly and transparently as possible.
Here the goal is to define clearly and bindingly the persons involved in the effective development and implementation of the roadmap and their responsibilities.
Take Care of the Structure and the Process
The basic structure of a roadmap first differentiates between three main levels. The line “market” includes sublayers such as trends, drivers, barriers, customers, stakeholders etc. and deals with “Why?” (market pull). The second main layer bundles the products and services offered by a company as well as the technologies required for them. Thus, it offers space for the question of “What?”. The last mainline deals with the “How?” (e.g. technology push).
The simple process behind each roadmap consists of three questions.
Where do we want to go? Vision
Where are we today? Status quo
How to get from status quo to vision?
Integrate into Higher-Level Innovation Management
This stage is about the integration of the roadmap into company-wide innovation management. This way the roadmap can serve as a stimulus for your own idea management. Idea campaigns can be derived from the trends and drivers developed for the roadmap.
This integration enables an agile, flexible, scalable and responsive design that puts roadmapping at the center of strategy development and innovation management.
Software for Integrated Roadmapping
As you have seen from the steps above creating and updating roadmaps is a time consuming, large data collection requiring activity that is a definite challenge for many companies. In addition to the efforts required to create roadmaps for the first time, the maintenance of roadmaps is often mentioned as the main obstacle. Roadmaps are usually created in rigid documents in Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint or Visio.
Thus, such roadmap remains an isolated instrument detached from current corporate planning and development and quickly becomes obsolete.
Dedicated software solutions, such as ITONICS Roadmap combines markets, products, technologies, and resources in a web application to enable holistic forecasts for future technology and product developments. Depending on the focus of the company, the software can be customized to a specific roadmapping project.