Your organization has spent a lot of time defining its vision, turning this into short and long-term goals, and converting that work into an overarching business strategy. Once firmly established within company culture, it’s time to translate these objectives into a strategic plan for your team to execute. That’s where a strategic roadmap comes in.
Strategic roadmapping bridges the gap between organizational vision and strategy and actionable guidance. These roadmaps turn your “What?” and “Why?” into a clear and manageable workload.
What’s a strategic roadmap?
A strategic roadmap describes the steps an organization will take to bring its big-picture vision to life, defining what the company needs to achieve and why. While serving as an action plan, a strategic roadmap also:
- Establishes the organization’s current position and where it wants to go
- Conveys the company’s strategy to existing and potential investors
- Provides direction to managers and leaders when making tactical business decisions
- Connects the dots for employees, showing them how tasks align with business objectives
Why is a strategy roadmap important?
When you’re in the midst of strategic planning, it’s easy to lose sight of your company’s vision and, as a result, fall short of attaining long-term goals. The roadmap process links business strategy with implementation, guiding the team by:
- Charting the best potential options and showcasing how they’ll achieve desired outcomes
- Establishing a plan of action, outlining what steps to take, in what order, and why they’re essential to the organization
- Clarifying stakeholder roles and responsibilities
- Assessing resources to ensure you have the assets necessary to reach your goals
- Communicating focus areas for all team members and stakeholders to ensure everyone moves in the right direction
You’ll use your strategic roadmap to define the process of bringing your company’s vision to life, set milestones, and identify potential shortcuts or detours. And by knowing where you’re going, you can remain agile, quickly adapting to market or economic changes while keeping your destination in sight.
Strategic roadmaps versus product roadmaps
Strategic and product roadmaps are similar in intent, but the output is very different.
Strategic product roadmaps produce an in-depth view of the vision and philosophy behind a product’s evolution. They outline:
- What the product team is building
- Why product development is proceeding in a particular direction
- Who the target audience is
- When they’ll release the product, additional features, and updates
- How the product will meet audience needs
Product managers leverage the product roadmap’s information to chart an individual product’s development, ensuring its evolution remains user-centric throughout its lifetime while aligning with the company’s guiding strategy.
Conversely, a strategic roadmap charts the development of the entire organization, ensuring it lives up to the principles described in its vision statement. Because of the broad focus, the roadmap’s goals and targets are much less granular than those used in product management, looking at the big picture instead of specific items.
How to create a strategic roadmap: 7 steps
To provide effective guidance in the coming days, you must ensure that you’ve firmly established your company’s vision. Without it, business initiatives and projects may not fully align with the organization’s goals, leading to missed opportunities and wasted potential.
With a firm company vision in mind and working with fellow leaders, follow this seven-step guide to create an effective strategic roadmap.
1. Document essential information
A strategic roadmap is a formal document capturing much of the same information as your business plan. Begin by documenting the following information:
- Company name, address, and phone number
- Names of the owners
- A business description including sector, history, and past achievements
- Primary short and long-term goals and objectives
- The current organizational structure
Include enough information so that someone with a basic understanding of your industry can assess the business’s viability. Then, state your vision in clear language anyone who might refer to this document can understand to offer the reader a quick grasp of the company’s main motive and trajectory.
2. Elaborate on your vision and objectives
Establishing fundamental business values, principal objectives, and key goals are the next steps in creating your strategic roadmap. Determining these factors will inform decisions about which products and services to offer, your company’s target market, and who your competition is.
Elaborate on your values and objectives by answering the following questions:
- What prompted you/the owners to establish this business?
- What’s the nature of the product(s) and service(s) you offer?
- What are your primary overall goals and objectives?
- Where will the company be by year-end? Three years from now? After five years?
- How do your/the owners’ values and the company vision relate to each other? What changes must you make to ensure they align as the company grows?
3. Analyze your capacity
Assess the current state of your business to identify any gaps that could create roadblocks preventing you from achieving your goals. Consider your:
- Resources: Do you have enough staff, time, finances, and technology to accomplish your objectives?
- Positioning: Conduct a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) to better understand your market position.
- Success measures: Define how you’ll evaluate your organization’s success by establishing OKRs and KPIs to generate data you can use to adjust your strategy.
4. Conduct a competitor analysis
Examine your competitors’ strategies and tactics, identifying your unique selling points and potential innovations that can take your product in new and unexpected directions. Be thorough and review this information with an eye on how it can support your strategic vision moving forward.
5. Understand your market
Assessing potential customers helps identify obstacles within your strategic roadmap. Create a basic target audience profile by asking these questions:
- Who are your potential clients? Describe their demographic (age, gender, income, etc.)
- What drives them?
- Is their education level relevant? If so, what is it?
- How are they employed?
- How much free time do they have in a day?
- What items would they purchase and when?
- What are their pain points?
Once you have the answers, you can create product and project plans that more strategically target audience needs.
6. Develop initiatives
Now, determine which actions your organization will take and when. Define individual projects and initiatives, then prioritize each depending on those that best serve your strategic vision.
7. Create the roadmap and timelines
Enter these items into a digital roadmap template from your preferred project management software. Break each initiative down into a task list to keep your team from becoming overwhelmed, and set milestones and timelines for delivery. As you roadmap, consider the following:
- Simplifying planning documents to make it easier for stakeholders and investors to understand
- Defining changes and updates and how they’ll help the company meet its goals
- Creating connections between tasks and adding information like necessary resources and assignees so team members understand the roadmap’s full scope
Strategic roadmap applications
Your organization can use its strategic roadmap in several ways, such as to:
- Secure investment: Your strategic roadmap is an excellent accompaniment to your business plan. It gives potential investors all the information they need about your company’s goals, current state, and vision.
- Create product roadmaps: Inform product strategy and roadmaps by identifying dependencies and ensuring the development of new and iterative designs will deliver on organizational objectives.
- Change planning: When your company needs to readjust its strategy due to market upheavals or evolving customer needs, your roadmap can establish the framework for change. You can use it to prioritize initiatives, plan projects, and provide a practical course of action to guide team members.
Enjoy simple roadmap creation with Roadmunk
Whether establishing your business strategy, launching a new product, or kicking off a project, creating roadmaps is an intensive process. With a little help from Tempo, you’ll have everything you need at your fingertips. From roadmap templates for product and project management to Roadmunk’s audience-friendly visualization software, offer your team every tool they need to achieve company goals.