Now that you understand the core aspects of roadmap planning, let’s get to the point. Here are the 8 business cases, or tasks, that a proper roadmap can help you achieve like no other planning or management tool.
Ever had a goal that included a seemingly infinite amount of sub-goals and tasks? Then you know the frustration of facing overwhelming objectives and not understanding where to start and how to prioritize. The problem of objectives management has long occupied all sorts of analysts and C-Suites.
So far, the peak of this topic’s research are the works of David Norton and Robert Kaplan of Boston Consulting Group. Numerous third-party studies (examples: 1, 2, 3) have analyzed their balanced scorecard approach and deem it highly flexible and adaptable.
It is objectives management problems that roadmaps solve by their very nature. Structure your tasks, visually show the interrelations between the objectives, and don’t forget about their timelines. After that, figuring out the whats and the hows is paperwork. This makes it super easy to keep track of even the most complex and multi-level goals.
Once you’ve written out your objectives, it’s time to actually plan everything out. At this stage, you will clearly see why “the process of roadmapping is more important than the roadmap itself” — how the very process facilitates communication and innovation. For instance, Motorola in its landmark 1987 roadmapping approach demanded to submit a report on HOW the roadmap development process went, along with its immediate product — the roadmap.
There is a concrete difference between a list of goals and a plan that you should keep in mind. A plan involves control over the causes — it strives to consider and manage all the inner factors that affect the outcome. These factors should form a backbone of your plan — all the actions in your roadmap must lead to improving (or at least regulating) one of these.
Data analysis and transformation
Interesting use of roadmaps was suggested by Jeff Thermond. It includes vertical data analysis to get deeper insights compared to how it’s usually studied. This method consists of 5 steps:
- Extraction — gathering data from available sources in a structured manner
- Curation — correcting errors and ensuring data accuracy
- Derivation — combining your data fields to allow the appearance of novel information and implications
- Combination — looking at the whole data at once to generate additional insights
- Self Generation — transforming large amounts of info into metadata
The greatest benefit of this approach is that it lets you analyze objective links to develop a number of alternative action scenarios. This makes it much easier to control business processes — you will always know what actions or goals can compensate you in failing to meet some of the objectives.
Planning oftentimes takes more than a single person, so various meetings and brainstorming sessions are inevitable. To make them more efficient, it’s highly recommended to utilize the Backlog feature available in professional roadmap building services, such as Roadmap Planner. It allows you to form a list of thoughts, ideas, and suggestions. After that, you can share them with your team, evaluate them, and transfer those that are agreed upon right into your roadmap.
Backlog is nice for sharing your ideas. But if you need true collaboration, nothing’s better than being able to invite the meeting attendees (or any other stakeholders) to the very roadmap document.
You can work on it simultaneously online, discuss possible changes, or assign certain roles to respective employees. The last is especially valuable. It allows distributing responsibilities for projects or tasks, which always drastically increases their completion rate.
It might come as a surprise to some, but a strategy meeting can cost quite a lot. That’s why thorough preparation, organization, and the use of proper tools are key to ensure that the bang is worth the buck.
Controlling Change and VUCA
The Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity (VUCA) model describes the modern business world as a highly unpredictable one. It’s full of black swans — events that come unforeseen and have a huge impact on certain areas or markets. To minimize the risks from such occurrences, one must apply Vision, Understanding, Clarity, and Agility.
It just so happens that roadmapping offers exactly that! Its structured and communication-enhancing form grants you Vision. Its transparency fosters the development of new ideas and constructive criticism, thus giving you Understanding. Its logical nature protects your plans from cognitive biases and grants Clarity. Finally, its flexibility allows you to quickly adapt to changes in the business environment, offering your plans Agility.
Some managers see roadmapping as solely the mean of executing the strategy that had been defined prior to that. However, roadmapping is vital for both developing and managing the strategy. After all, the aforementioned VUCA model vividly demonstrates why using a roadmap is a necessity on every stage of a strategy’s lifecycle.
Although originally intended for ensuring a global overview rather than pinpoint accuracy, a roadmap can still be quite helpful when it comes to managing a strategy as a whole. Using milestones and task execution status available in most roadmapping services, you can easily keep track of objectives.
What’s more, using digital roadmaps grants your strategic management additional flexibility. You can edit your roadmap on-the-go, adjusting it as the tasks are completed ahead of time or suddenly take longer than expected.
Communicating and solving ongoing works
It’s great to have a thorough long-term strategy that covers each aspect of your business. But occasionally, arises a need to draw a short-term plan that wasn’t in your strategy originally. Using old-school planning techniques, you’d have to revise the whole strategy, which is clunky. Roadmapping lets you draw plans of any timescale and detail. It allows you to quickly draft a scheme, showcase it to employees, and get it rolling right away.