Strategic planning was once the province of elite groups meeting annually to create budgets and forecasts which were often locked away in secret. Consequently, there was little liaison between the marketing teams and product and technology managers. They worked in silos with little understanding of each other's roles.
Although roadmapping is far from a panacea for all these problems, it is a great way to begin to get disparate parts of an organization to share a common vision. It is an excellent vehicle for promoting discussions, both internally and with customers and suppliers, to make the right decisions about developing new products and services.
Strategic planning and innovation management system implementations lag behind
The benefits of roadmapping are widely acknowledged and analysts show that companies with efficient roadmapping processes consistently outperform other organizations in bringing new products to market quickly as well as optimizing their R&D expenditures. Despite this, roadmapping along with other innovation management techniques is often managed with unstructured single user tools such as Excel and PowerPoint. Most businesses have implemented networked systems for procedures such as ERP and HR yet have failed to develop up to date systems for managing strategic planning, idea management, new product development, R&D, and innovation resources.
In the current ultra-competitive global environment, the roadmaps need to be shared with and updated by a much wider audience for three key reasons:
Products are increasingly complex
Gone are the days when an individual or even a company knows everything about their products. Does Apple know all there is to know about the latest iPhone or does it rely on information from outside suppliers who design the screens, the software and processor chips? Without continual input from external teams, it is impossible for any business to keep the roadmaps up-to-date to bring the right technologies and products to the market on time.
Companies are increasingly complex
Even medium-sized businesses need to address international markets to remain competitive. These worldwide markets require specialized teams to sell and manufacture the products and manage the different legal, social and governmental regulations and practices. Geographically spread organizations are harder to manage and systems need to be in place to enable effective communication and collaboration.
Technology and market demands are moving exponentially faster
Regardless of the industry, the pace of change is dramatically increasing. The costs of being late to market are becoming more and more punitive. The competition is more agile and the effort necessary to stay ahead is greater every month. This means that roadmaps require input from more people, but most importantly they need to be updated more frequently.