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Wita Stwosza 16,
Monday to Friday: 7AM - 7PM
Weekend: 10AM - 3PM
A roadmap is a visualization of the strategic development of a company or product. Generally speaking, a roadmap answers the questions “who?”, “what?” and “when?”. The key advantage of a roadmap is that it indicates the relationships between various departments over a long period of time. Since this tool is understandable to any professional or investor, you can use the roadmap to explain the business strategy in literally any negotiation.
Let us imagine a typical situation for a large or medium-sized company: along with the existing tools, a fundamentally new one is launched. For example, a mobile application. The development of such a product is a resource-intensive process. In order for the time spent and investment in development to pay off, it is necessary to do a lot of preparatory work with clients and leads. At this stage, there is a significant challenge. Marketing materials are needed for the sales department to fuel the target audience. In order for the marketing department to prepare presentations, a working version of the product is needed.
Without strategic planning, the worst way out of such a predicament is as follows. The marketing department waits until the mobile app is complete, after which marketers create promotional materials. The sales department receives the materials and starts calling the CA. The result is repeatedly missed deadlines and, consequently, lost profits.
A strategic action plan should be developed to ensure effective interaction between departments. This plan should include milestones for the project, with appropriate people and deadlines. To make this strategic vision visible, a roadmap is drawn up. This is most often a table with the departments involved, milestones, and deadlines. A quick glance at the roadmap is enough to understand who is doing what work at a certain point in time.
Thus, a roadmap is a visual representation of the list of tasks that need to be performed in order to achieve the desired goals in the long term. Using this tool, it is easier for different departments or specialists to organize parallel work on separate tasks within a project. That is, the roadmap facilitates the formation of teamwork, regardless of the complexity of the project.
Before you start creating a roadmap, keep in mind what it is not. It is not a SCRUM and it is not a project tracker. That is, when creating a roadmap, you don’t need to describe in detail the task and subtask for each employee.
The roadmap only specifies goals, but does not focus on the methods of achieving those goals. For example, during the development of a mobile app, an idea for a useful feature may come up that will require additional time to develop. This does not fundamentally affect the fact that the marketing department should receive comprehensive information about the general principle of the mobile app at the specified point in time. The advertisers can find out about the functionality of the new feature later. As a result, the release of the working version of the mobile app may be pushed back to a later date, but the basic timing of interaction between the departments will remain the same.
Before starting to create a roadmap, the following points should be defined:
Since this tool is used for a long period of time, the implementation of the roadmap should be the responsibility of a high-ranking specialist. This can be a product manager, a project manager, or a company manager. He or she is responsible for the interaction between departments and the approximate adherence to deadlines.
Why can deadlines shift? Because the roadmap does not answer the question of “how”, i.e. when the task is set at the beginning of project development, it is difficult to predict what difficulties or, conversely, successful opportunities will arise in the process of implementation. The project manager’s job is to assess changing conditions, and to promptly make adjustments to the roadmap.
This flexibility is another advantage of the roadmap. In the absence of such a tool, any changes to the original plan could critically affect the work of the company as a whole. That is, specialists in one department will not wait for an answer from their colleagues, and will reallocate resources to other tasks. On the contrary, with the roadmap in hand, the manager will inform the relevant specialists of the need to allocate labor resources in the near future, even if the original deadlines have changed.
Similarly, the roadmap is allowed to make adjustments to the list of project participants. For example, at a certain stage of the project, it will turn out to be beneficial to outsource some of the tasks. The project manager adds new performers to the roadmap, and continues to monitor the project as a whole.
For effective use of roadmap, it is recommended to implement the Deming Cycle (PDCA) in business processes. The acronym stands for “Plan-Do-Check-Act” (Plan-Do-Check-Act). Accordingly, each step means:
This substitution is not appropriate because a release plan is a detailed document that describes the execution of a specific task without reference to the company’s long-term strategy. On the contrary, a project roadmap is a verbalization of the company’s or project’s prospects, which primarily takes into account the impact of the product or company on the target audience.
In a small company, a product backlog can really serve as a roadmap. However, as the company grows, the product roadmap provides information on why you create certain products, what their value to customers is.
Meetings with stakeholders twice a month, monthly or quarterly are the main criteria for agreeing on changes to the roadmap.
There are two main types of roadmaps – the cascade type (waterfall) and the agile type (agile). The first is less popular because of the outdated planning method on which it is based. The short difference between the two types is that the cascade roadmap describes a sequence of actions over a very long time horizon, from a few years. In contrast, the agile roadmap describes the parallel execution of work on a timeline of a few months to a few quarters.
Accordingly, building a cascade roadmap is quite simple. The manager sets the maximum timeline for project development or business development, and then determines a separate pool of tasks and deadlines for each team, after which the project is redirected for further implementation to another team.
Any marketing strategy is based on business goals. The American economist Michael Porter identified three types of competitive strategy, which are considered classic:
Only a well thought-out strategy allows a company to achieve market leadership. Its implementation includes three steps:
A good strategy has the following attributes:
There are three types of Internet marketing strategies:
Set a goal.
Formulate specific goals for a specific period. Example: increase market share to 30% for the year, increase average check by 10%, increase conversion rate by 1%.
Record the current figures.
What to do if you don’t know who your target audience is:
First of all, it is necessary to choose correctly those whom we will analyze. There are 2 types of competitors:
First of all you should analyze the direct competitors – market leaders, then the remaining direct and indirect competitors. You should analyze the site itself, SEO and social networks.
What to pay attention to:
Before selecting promotion tools, it is worth conducting an audit of existing advertising campaigns and the site.
The process of creating road maps is called Roadmapping or road mapping. It should include mandatory elements:
In addition to the mandatory elements, you can add your own goals and metrics you want to achieve to the roadmap.
A completed roadmap should have the following attributes:
Now that you have a development strategy, deadlines, goals and objectives defined, and actions broken down in stages, you can proceed directly to drawing up a roadmap. You can do this in several ways: manually in spreadsheets, with presentations, or with special online services.
Let’s look at an example of a roadmap for launching an online store, made by ProductPlan. The diagram shows the work plan for the whole year. There are three teams involved in the project: the web development department, the mobile development department, and the marketing team.
There are two key earlier milestones in the specified timeframe. The first is the May 30 launch of the site. The second is the August 28 release of the iOS app. As you can see from the example, the strategic planning does not end there. Further work until the end of the year involves adding new features to the web and mobile version of the application, as well as intensive work of the marketing department.
In this example, there is another notable deadline, March 31, when the beta version of the mobile app is scheduled to be released. And on the same date, the lead generation that the marketing department does begins. It is noteworthy that the strategic planning for the year specifies the development of an Android application. At the same time, the release of the application is not specified. From this it can be assumed that the finalization and release of software will be carried out the following year based on the results of the iOS-application.
Another illustrative example of interaction between departments can be seen in the third and fourth quarters. In July and August, the marketing department collects analytics on the site, and then in September, the web developers begin finalizing the shopping cart. Thus, we see that the ongoing analysis and refinement of the site is planned for the entire year ahead. Project managers do not expect to get a perfectly working product initially, so they initially distribute the company’s resources needed for further modernization.
Aha! has built a roadmap for Fredwin Cycling, a fictitious company that develops a mobile app for sports-oriented people. What makes this fictitious project special is that Aha! users can import it as a visual example into their accounts.
The Fredwin Cycling app works on the principle of social networking: users sign up for the mobile app, where they receive tasks or complete Challenges. Notably, in the roadmap example, the breakdown is not by team, but by task: the app itself, marketing and working with the platform. And all three areas are developed in parallel. This is a realistic scenario for real companies, especially small companies or startups, where there is a core product whose idea is clear to all employees.
The easiest and absolutely free option is to create a roadmap in Excel, Google Tables, or another spreadsheet application. If you want to test a roadmap on the example of your company, we recommend starting with this type of software, especially the cloud versions.
A handy application, which initially pre-installed several dozen templates for different areas: portfolio development, IT-product development, overall company strategy, etc. There are several options for displaying the roadmap. A 14-day trial is available.
Similar in functionality, the application does not have preinstalled templates, but it has developed integration with the following services: Jira, GitHub, Slack, PivotalTracker, Trello, Azure DevOps, Confluence, Microsoft Teams.
An application that combines a roadmap and a management tracker. There is integration with third-party services via API. A free trial period is available to users.
Jira roadmaps are available in different versions for different Jira Software Cloud subscriptions. The obvious advantage for Jira users is easy integration.
An interesting alternative to the standard roadmaps, created especially for developers. The application consists of a project tracker and a roadmap. There is a fairly efficient free version. The most expensive subscription is $14 per user per month.
The topic of introducing roadmaps into business processes is actively discussed abroad. Books are being published, written about the methodology in general, as well as about individual aspects of roadmap application. Among the landmark works is the book “Business Intelligence Roadmap: The Complete Project Lifecycle for Decision-support Applications” by Larissa Terpeluk Moss. In this publication the author analyzed the implementation of roadmaps in IT companies. The main purpose of the book is to demonstrate that it is possible to establish business processes in the IT community to achieve given business goals.
In 2018, a book by Tiffany Pham (and co-authors), From Business Strategy to Information Technology Roadmap: A Practical Guide for Executives and Board Members, was released. This work is a practical guide for managers at various levels to implement a value-driven roadmap into the IT infrastructure development of a for-profit and non-profit organization. In addition to numerous examples, the book contains two detailed case studies.
The Kids’ Roadmap to Business Ownership is an original example of modern nonfiction literature. The author, Althia Ellis, has written a short primer for kids ages 9-18 on how to become an entrepreneur in today’s environment and why you should use a roadmap to do so.
A roadmap is a handy tool for planning business tasks. Regardless of the complexity and duration of the project, roadmap will help to establish effective work between departments.