What Is a Strategic Roadmap?
A strategic roadmap is a time-based plan that defines where a business is, where it wants to go, and how to get it there. It is a visual representation that organizes and presents important information related to future plans. Strategic roadmaps are a common approach to planning. They are an effective communication tool for managers, and link strategic initiatives with business plans. Roadmapping acts as a focusing device that marshals efforts toward achieving important goals.
There are many types of roadmaps. All are a type of plan to guide progress toward a goal. A roadmap offers a look into the future of a field of interest and takes into consideration main drivers of change. Motorola pioneered technology roadmapping in the 1970s to align technology and product development. The process involved integrating elements of the strategic plan into a simple high-level visual representation.
Strategic decision making is the main factor determining firm success. Sound decisions require timely and relevant information. Strategic roadmapping assumes that different departments and individuals in the organization possess vital information for strategic decision making. For example, knowledge about technological innovation in the company's field of operations rests with people at lower levels of the organization.
A roadmap describes a destination in terms of goals, timelines and intermediate stops on the way. It shows practical steps necessary to get to the desired destination. It considers interdependencies among steps and anticipates alternative routes that help optimize resource allocation and minimize risks.
Roadmapping is a collaborative strategic planning process. The first stage is to determine a vision. The vision is a desirable future state that the business would like to have happen. Next, several vision statements are expressed and concrete goals are defined. The third stage is doing a gap analysis. Here, critical capabilities needed for the articulated visions are determined; then, a gap analysis between available capabilities and the needed capabilities is conducted. Finally, a portfolio of actions based on the gap analysis is recommended.
For small companies, the first roadmap is a framework to think about strategic planning. Roadmaps are not static tools, and several iterations of the process may be needed to see full benefits. A roadmap does not predict the future. It is a collaborative tool to make strategies and take actions toward a desired future state. It allows evaluation of technological changes and business opportunities that matter for realizing a desired future.