Roadmapping – aligning your business for future growth

roadmapping aligning your business for growth

Dr Peter Allen says more value can be extracted from roadmapping

It never ceases to amaze me how when senior executives ask for a ‘roadmap’ or a ‘plan’ they often get something that is either, so detailed it is inaccessible to decision makers, or so high level, it doesn’t provide useful input for concrete plans for growth.

Roadmaps can take many shapes and forms. Many of them are pictorial representations of the future which although useful for guiding high-level policy (e.g.“How nanotechnology will effect the economy of Massachusetts”) are of limited value in creating an implementable plan for the future.

The need for roadmaps often arises when organizations are trying to wrestle with specific challenges, which may include:

  • Need to avoid disruption
  • Development of new insights/innovations and their implementation
  • Alignment of technology ‘acquisitions’ within a product roadmap
  • Deciding how to allocate limited resources when building a growth pipeline
  • Bridging the gulf between strategic goals and the technology ‘detail’

Some succeed in creating valuable and useful roadmaps for their businesses, yet many fail. Common failure modes include:

  • Poor framing – not enough integration of commercial and customer needs and technology know-how. Roadmap is unconnected to executive decision-making process, and has unclear goals
  • Unsatisfactory delivery – difficulty collaborating with appropriate external expertise – ‘we know all there is to know…’, insufficient attention on capturing, processing and presenting information for multiple audiences – ‘it’s all about the roadmap…’, and poor integration with downstream market and economic value
  • Difficulty applying the results – insufficient attention given to generating insights and/or innovation, poor linkage to the realities of implementation – e.g. concrete plans, IP, NPD, economics, little or no accessibility for decision-makers in order for them to respond, leading to poor organisational traction
  • Focus on the ‘long term’ – well framed roadmaps should be able to deliver results with a regular cadence that keep the organization engaged with the plan

Addressing these failure modes and meeting the challenges above requires an approach that:

  1. Aligns commercial and customer needs and technology possibility
  2. Builds on internal capability with selected external expertise
  3. Combines analytical and creative approaches to the challenge
  4. Actively manages cross functional and executive engagement
  5. Delivers actionable plans within and agreed strategic approach
  6. Provides a pipeline of results with a suitable cadence

Such an approach can be adapted to meet different strategic goals such as:

  • Manage technology investments 
    • to support growth opportunities
    • to improve cost reduction, especially in conjunction with performance improvement programs (combines ‘technology’ and ‘people’),
    • to refine product roadmaps in order to support better alignment of FEI to a product launch timetable
  • Develop an innovation pipeline to identify potential new innovations that can support the needs of the business over time

The impact of considering these factors in your approach to roadmapping includes:

  • Strong alignment built into the tools and process to provide an AGREED perspective that can generate traction both across the business and with executive decision makers
  • Use of joint teams of internal and external experts creates a greater sense of possibility for the innovation portfolio
  • Structure built into the process emphasizes ‘guided innovation’, leading to concepts that are more likely to provide both commercial and technical leadership in the future
  • Care is taken to ensure a good pipeline of concepts, short-, medium- and long-term
  • Careful combining of the creative and analytical tools provides a strong basis for protectable/sustainable innovation, implementable output, and accessibility for decision makers

Achieving all of this makes the commitment to a roadmap a worthwhile investment with lasting impact.

To find out more about nu Angle’s approach to roadmapping.