Leadership support is an obvious requirement for successful implementation of any major change process. Roadmapping process implementations can be stifled or lose momentum when leadership changes occur or when their focus shifts to other activities. Leadership support must include both a willingness to fund roadmapping initiatives, as well as making a visible show of support for using roadmaps for critical, forward-looking decision making.
This is particularly important in enterprise roadmapping where new responsibilities may be added to functions that did not exist before. For example, a marketing director that must make the creation and maintenance of a segment roadmap a key objective for all segment marketing managers reporting to him/her. Leaders need to request that roadmap reviews be included in strategic planning meetings, program reviews, portfolio management sessions, etcetera.
When people are visibly rewarded by leadership for correctly maintaining and managing their roadmap elements (or conversely, penalized for not upholding their responsibility), everyone will perceive that roadmaps are indeed an important part of the decision making culture and will participate. Eventually, it will become second nature to use roadmaps as a tool for defining and defending decisions.
Roadmapping implementations often suffer when new roles and responsibilities are introduced, particularly in the early stages, due to the time and effort required to get started. While some initial training events are required, it is very important that roadmapping be treated as a planning process improvement – not just an ad-hoc event or one-off initiative. Roadmapping needs to be fully integrated in the ongoing planning and execution processes for the organization.
Relying on information from roadmaps and associated databases needs to become the way the organization does business. Processes for new product development (i.e., Stage-Gate®, PACE®), strategic planning, competitive assessment, next generation product identification, innovation planning and technology platform planning can derive significant value from roadmapping, due to its ability to provide priority conflict resolution on a real-time basis. For example, a product roadmap review is an appropriate gate deliverable for a new product development process to ensure the product under development is still strategically aligned with the organization’s growth and financial priorities at that point in its development.
User Friendly Tools
Enterprise roadmapping implementations are impossible without user-friendly tools and easy to understand guidelines. If the process gets bogged down with data entry and data management issues, then NO value will be derived. Participants will quickly get frustrated with the added burden the new process imposes on them, and will decide not to participate fully or at all. If the required information to support a decision cannot be formatted and accessed quickly and easily, the system will not get used, leading to obsolete data and unreliable information.
About the Author
Phil Whalen is Principal of Whalen Management Group, which provides practical Technology and Strategy Management consulting including roadmap architecture definition and implementation. Phil has had a variety of new product development, technology and strategy management positions in large global companies including AlliedSignal/Honeywell Inc. and recently was Chief Technology Officer of Invensys, plc. He has a Ph.D. in Ceramic Science and Engineering from Rutgers University.