A Roadmap is a planning tool to visualize the steps and milestones needed to achieve a major goal. The x-axis represents time, while the y-axis stacks layers of required actions, typically grouped together by company department or area of work.
1. Why Are Roadmaps Important?
Many executives report a gap between company strategy and product development. Roadmapping is an ideal planning tool to visualize dependencies in innovation implementation. It lets you detect time inconsistencies and synergies in strategic planning early on and understand the current state of your company at a glance. A Roadmap aligns the subgoals of a company with the larger strategic goals. Without it, innovation efforts could become unsynchronized with capability, resources, and strategy.
2. How to Create a Roadmap
The first question to ask before creating a Roadmap is, what do we want to achieve with this Roadmap? Your answer determines the type of Roadmap, timeframe, and degree of detail. Asking the question is also important because the benefit of the Roadmap must be clear in order to gain the commitment of your organization.
Agree on the following:
- Timeframe: Is the Roadmap designed for the short, medium, or long term?
- Detail: How detailed will the Roadmap layers be?
- Type: Is it a product Roadmap, technology Roadmap, or project Roadmap?
Take the practical steps to create a new Roadmap in the ITONICS software. Select a template based on the intended purpose of the Roadmap. A template makes it easy to create the first draft and guides your thinking by providing a proven structure.
No matter the purpose of your Roadmap, it is useful to segment your time horizon into three phases: Where do we want to go? Where are we currently? How do we move forward? Examining where you are and where you want to go allows you to identify the gaps in your portfolio of initiatives and enables you to address those crucial pieces. The layers on the y-axis are typically arranged according to specificity, with the top layer addressing strategic questions and the bottom layer answering the how of what resources and capabilities are needed for execution.
3. How to Communicate the Roadmap to Stakeholders
Involve stakeholders in the Roadmapping process at the right time. Going straight from Roadmap creation to implementation without involving key departments will not work. The Roadmapping process involves iteration, as well as two-way feedback at every step. Communication can follow two approaches: Bottom-up or top-down.
- Short-term planning is usually bottom-up. In the bottom-up approach, roadmaps are developed at the lowest levels and then communicated to the next level up. A bottom-up approach helps improve employee collaboration, since everyone is involved in the decision-making process and has an influence on how the strategy is tactically implemented.
- A top-down approach is more applicable when planning far into the future. In such a case, top management itself controls the work of all departments, so that the goals of all hierarchical levels are aligned with the goals of the company as a whole. As a result, the Roadmap goals are created at the highest hierarchy level and then communicated to the levels below.
A designated decision-maker should set the milestones in the Roadmap and then receive updates on progress via the platform. A product Roadmap may be updated weekly with new features, whereas a company-wide Roadmap might only need to be updated once a quarter or even once a year. Make dependencies in implementation visible by creating connections between Activities. This makes tracking and monitoring more effective and accurate.
Use the Roadmap to provide an easy overview of all development projects to stakeholders. By visualizing innovation projects on an integrated Roadmap, you can highlight synergies, increase transparency and reduce double-work.
It is even possible to combine numerous individual Roadmaps into one overarching, integrated Roadmap that enables a top-down and bottom-up view of strategic planning for the next 5–20 years. In this way, the Roadmap aligns the activities of different business units and shows the planned progress into the future.