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The purpose of a roadmap for your business is the same as for any other roadmap: It helps you get to your destination. But instead of taking you on a road trip to the Grand Canyon, this roadmap leads you toward your objective.
And because it’s good business to start with questions, not ideas, start your trip by asking:
- Where am I now?
- Why do I want to go where I want to go?
These questions sound deceptively simple, but it’s worth taking the time to answer them thoroughly. The tips below will help you answer these questions (and more). By answering these questions everyone will be on the same page of your map.
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Let’s now jump into specific tips on how you can use a roadmap to benefit your team and your company.
“About twice as many best performers (38%) use product Roadmaps than do worst performers (19%).” – Scott J. Cooper & Robert G. Edgett (2009)
First, continue answering questions that will help you build the structure of your roadmap (think of them as the roads, bridges, and towns along the way).
The roadmap can do many things—like keep your team informed, set your priorities, and determine necessary resources—but its utility is only as good as the information you put into it. This means asking more “who, what, where, when, and why” questions, such as:
- Where are we now? (Where are we in our current work?)
- And where do we want to go? (What is our objective?)
- Why do we want to go there? (Why is this objective important?)
- When are we going to go there? (Over what time period will we work toward our objective?)
- Who is coming with us? (Who will work on this objective?)
- What do we need to do to reach our destination? (What concrete steps will we take toward the goal?)
Only the best companies and leaders have clear answers to these questions.
To continue the theme of asking questions, consider looking at these business functions through the lens of “why, what, and how” questions. Ask why your objective relates to your business and the market in which you operate. Ask what products and services that you offer factor into the success of your objective. Also, ask how the resources you have will aid you in reaching your objective.
The point is to make sure you look at your operations in their totality. Each decision you make—each step you take toward your objective—will affect all aspects of your business. This step makes sure you don’t limit your roadmap planning to only one area of your business.
“πρόβλημα”(Greek) Próblēma. An obstacle, barrier, or hindrance.
Next, identify and name the obstacles that will get in the way of your trip to your objective. These are the things that will slow you down (heavy traffic), send you the wrong way (confusing detours), or stop your progress entirely (running out of gas).
This can be even more important than setting your objective. The objective itself is uninformative because it’s a distant landmark you have chosen because of its perfection. But no trip is without its problems. If you plan for obstacles, you will be prepared to bypass them when they appear.
Also, keep in mind that reaching your goal may require innovative solutions and unfamiliar methods your company hasn’t used before. Don’t be afraid to be creative!
Ways to brainstorm around these obstacles include:
- Collect all information about your objective in one place. (Start by answering the questions in Tip #1).
- Engage your entire team in the brainstorming process.
- Integrate your company’s mission and activities into the objective.
- Try out several versions of the roadmap by using options such as a portfolio matrix, SWOT analysis, or drivers and key performance indicators (KPIs).
When you identify your obstacles, answer these questions about them:
- What information does our team/company need to solve this problem?
- What needs to be done to solve this problem?
- And what resources do we need to solve this problem?
Next, clarify who is responsible for each step of the roadmap. A successful movement toward the objective requires constant interaction of all the departments and teams. (Think of this like a caravan of RVs using the same map, but each is responsible for different parts of the trip such as gas, snacks, GPS.)
When your team has gathered the necessary information, visualize and share your roadmap with all stakeholders. Make sure to choose a tool that everyone can easily access and understand.
Product Roadmap (Goals by KeepSolid)
Tip #6: Revise and Update Your Roadmap Regularly
Your roadmap will require constant updating as you make your way to your destination. This is what makes a roadmap an agile tool for reaching goals. Just as real maps can take you from Miami to L.A. using different combinations of highways, a roadmap can be used to reach your objective in many different ways, too.
Roadmaps are living tools and should be reviewed and updated regularly. For example, it is good to review your roadmap at least once a month. Update the progress and status of goals and tasks (including marking them as “complete”), and add further clarifications for new ones.
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Build a Roadmap to Reach Your Goals
- Naming an objective is easy, but it’s not enough to get you there. You need a roadmap.
- Describe your objective as completely as possible.
- Answer the who, what, where, when, and why questions to take you from where you are to where you want to go.
- Identify, describe, and plan for the obstacles that will prevent you from reaching your objective.
- Break down your roadmap into smaller steps. Assign those steps to the right teams and departments.
- Create a visualization of your roadmap. Share it with all stakeholders.
- Make a plan to review and update your roadmap regularly. A roadmap is flexible, so make adjustments if needed.
And there you have it! You are now equipped with steps to create your own roadmaps. Now, where will you go?
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