Roadmaps are essential for visualizing & communicating performance of both near-term & multi-year strategic plans
Regardless of your industry, whether you’re an executive; an enterprise or departmental PMO; a portfolio, program or product manager; or anyone in between – everyone struggles with the same thing. Building and maintaining the roadmaps they need to better visualize the performance and communicate of their near-term and long-term strategic plans.
What is roadmapping?
Roadmapping is the strategic process used to plan projects, products, programs, portfolios, and other business ventures. In essence it’s the planning process and time visualization of the steps, milestones, actions, processes, resources, and timelines associated with the business activity, from inception to completion. While roadmapping is a strategic process, it’s fundamentally an execution-focused project planning tool.
Understanding the six degrees of separation
Fundamentally, successfully delivering digital business transformation is an exercise in managing dependencies. It’s critical to understand how work in one area impacts other areas of the business and prepare for that impact to optimize performance and minimize disruption. To do that effectively every time requires you to understand all of those dependencies, and that’s where roadmaps come in.
Dynamically connecting all work
If roadmapping is to be effective it must encompass all aspects of your projects, programs, products, technology assets and business functions. It must clearly represent the relationship between all of those elements and it must generate an easy-to-understand visual picture automatically – based on real data. You can still drag those elements around to see the impact, but there has to be substance below that drag and drop capability.
Roadmaps are just a tool to help you better manage your business, and if you’re spending excessive amounts of time producing those tools then they’re
detracting from that business management, not enhancing it. Instead of focusing on manually developing visual roadmaps to help you plan, leverage functionality that produces roadmaps from your portfolios of initiatives and assets so that you can:
- Quickly understand relationships and identify potential bottlenecks, problem areas and opportunities.
- Visualize the key events and milestones on every piece of the work and how those work elements integrate with and depend upon each other.
- Assess alternatives to optimize your value delivery in all areas at all times.
- Communicate plans, decisions and commitments to all stakeholders in a way that can easily be understood.
Aligning execution with strategy
By analyzing these integrated roadmaps, you can gain an understanding of all the threats and opportunities for your organization, and by drilling down to the details you, and all other stakeholders, can see the relationship between your strategy and the work you are doing. You unlock insights into milestones, dependencies and risks that are otherwise locked in the brains of the program, project or product managers. And that insight drives better decisions.
What is strategic roadmapping?
Strategic roadmapping, often associated with portfolio roadmaps, is the process used by senior leadership to track the high-level progress of strategic planning, budgets, execution, delivery, and vision associated with project roadmaps. The strategic roadmap is designed to provide the data needed for agile portfolio governance.
Providing the right strategic planning information to the right people
Roadmaps are critical for their unique ability to help organizations visualize, process, and clearly communicate the performance and go-live dates for in-flight initiatives. These important tools also enable all stakeholders to communicate multi-year strategic intent. By providing the right level of detail to the people who need it, when they need it, roadmaps are a core capability for any organization looking to more effectively align execution with strategy and vision.
Why automating roadmaps is critical to the strategic plan
For most organizations, projects are managed in a variety of execution methodologies and tools. This results in disparate data residing in silos across different systems, making it particularly challenging to consolidate the information needed to build roadmaps. To the extent company data can be consolidated, a lack of standardized roadmap templates – plus the time-consuming processes used to manually build static roadmaps in PowerPoint or other visualization tools – results in roadmaps that are out-of-date the moment they’re rendered. Business resources, teams, capabilities, and key requirements change so quickly that the static roadmap is completely impractical. Clearly, an automated process is needed to produce roadmaps that update dynamically as the underlying data changes.
Managing and visualizing cross-project, program and portfolio dependencies
Effectively orchestrating all initiatives to execute on strategies requires a comprehensive understanding of the “six degrees of separation” between all investments – including projects, programs, epics and more. Roadmaps are crucial tools that provide product managers, portfolio managers, teams, and executives with an easy way to visualize the performance of key milestones and track the risks in association with interdependencies between projects, programs, epics and more that could impact outcomes, deliverable, and the strategic plan.
Harmonizing and standardizing strategic plans across Agile and waterfall Initiatives
Every organization must confront the challenge of managing investments across a variety of execution methodologies – something we call the tri-modal reality. Roadmaps provide you with visibility across all initiatives, while also giving you insight into the dependencies between all work, regardless of how it is executed. Roadmap templates can also provide an additional dimension, enabling you to create specific roadmaps to view all projects by execution type, including timeline, boards, feature roadmap and more.
Taking roadmaps beyond project management
Roadmaps are powerful tools that can truly transform how an organization manages investments. But they shouldn’t be relegated to just projects. Indeed, the real power of roadmaps becomes apparent as organizations go beyond projects and begin to use roadmaps to establish, visualize, manage and communicate the dependencies between projects, programs, products, services, IT assets and a host of other entities across the enterprise.