Roadmapping has emerged as a best practice for aligning business functions with corporate strategy. Companies use roadmaps to increase visibility, accountability, and collaboration at almost every level of planning. Just like highway roadmaps, strategic roadmaps show information in a visual way, with destinations and paths. By seeing strategic goals, market requirements and product plans presented visually, employees throughout the organization see where they fit into the larger picture and what they are accountable for in the strategic process. Thousands of leading companies around the world, including Corning, Lockheed Martin, and many others use roadmaps to improve their strategic planning processes.
In addition to the roadmap being a visual depiction, roadmapping – the process of creating the strategic roadmap – is a business process. The process of roadmapping involves capturing strategic information on a timeline. This information typically relates to business vision, objectives, strategies, market requirements, product or service plans, technologies, and capabilities. The collected data is then fed into various roadmaps. Common roadmaps include: market, product, competitive, technology, supplier, and regulatory/environmental roadmaps. See Figure 1 for examples of different types of roadmaps and the information they contain.
Figure 1: Types of Roadmaps
As mentioned above, Corning, a leading diversified technology company, uses roadmaps. In particular, Corning was able to bring products to market faster by using the roadmapping process. Prior to using roadmapping, Corning focused on entering new markets, but strategic planning across the organization was not aligned with portfolio planning, R&D efforts or market trends. The company used roadmapping across three divisions to align corporate strategy, R&D and portfolio planning. This helped them identify and select new market opportunities, enter markets early, and earn positive returns for the company within 24 months. The company also saw a decrease in development costs due to fewer last-minute changes that were difficult to integrate further down the development chain.
In summary, roadmaps clarify thinking among stakeholders and enable the rapid communication and sharing of ideas. They also reveal valuable linkages among functional areas of a business that are often disconnected from each other, much like the roads that link and connect across a map.
Source: Introduction to Strategic Roadmapping, Sopheon White Paper