An Introduction to Strategic Roadmapping
Roadmapping has emerged as a best practice for aligning business functions with
corporate strategy and projecting with precision into the future. But what does
“roadmapping” involve? This paper explains the fundamentals behind roadmapping,
including what it is, how companies are using roadmapping, and the results they are
The word “roadmap” generally evokes images of a one-dimensional map with lines
representing roads drawn upon it. The roads are shown intersecting, circum-
navigating, running in parallel and sometimes dead-ending. All of the roads are
bi-directional, each affecting the course of the others that touch it.
The term “roadmapping” injects action into the map. Roads are actually being used
to map a course of action, resulting in a roadmap that provides direction. Taking it
one step further, “strategic roadmapping” involves manipulating the information con-
tained in roadmaps to plan the best course of action for the future, mapping actions
to align with strategic objectives.
Strategic roadmapping enables decision-makers to gain a multidimensional view into
the future and manipulate planning data to reveal the outcomes of their planning
Creating roadmaps allows companies to project far into the future with the confi-
dence that their strategic decisions are fueled by high-quality, up-to-date information.
Roadmapping is about more than just moving ahead in a common direction; it pro-
vides decision-makers with the confidence that they are moving ahead in the right
Roadmaps provide the framework for strategy creation. Roadmapping effectively
turns strategy into action; tying strategic goals to tactical measures. This enables an
organization to tie day-to-day planning and projects to business priorities. If applied
as an enterprise framework, roadmapping has the potential to provide a bridge be-
tween all the tactical decision processes, different business functions, and organiza-
tions through the common element of time.1
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Roadmaps Provide Strategic Views
of Enterprise Plans
Roadmaps are instrumental in increasing visibility, accountability, and collaboration at
almost every level of planning, enabling stakeholders to see where they fit into the
larger picture and what they are accountable for in the strategic process. In fact,
thousands of leading companies around the world, including Motorola, Corning,
Hewlett-Packard, and Lockheed Martin use roadmaps to improve planning processes
that are responsible for sustaining and improving their business performance.
“The implementation of
roadmapping in an Roadmaps clarify thinking among stakeholders and enable the rapid communication
and sharing of ideas. They also reveal valuable linkages among functional areas of a
organization should be business that are often disconnected from each other, much like the roads that link
managed as a process and disconnect across a map. Roadmaps should not just be viewed as the outputs of
improvement of the current a process, but rather a snapshot of a “rolling” strategy at any moment in time.2
planning process and not an
initiative unto its own.”2
Roadmapping as a Business Process
– Philip J. Whalen, PhD.
Roadmapping is also a practice and a business process that involves capturing strate-
gic information on a timeline. This data typically relates to business vision, objectives,
Whalen Management Group strategies, market requirements, product or service plans, technologies, and capabili-
ties. The collected data is then fed into various roadmaps, which include a theme,
timeline, time-based elements, and links among these elements.
Common roadmaps include: market, product, competitive, technology, supplier, and
regulatory/environmental roadmaps; and they typically reflect the planning horizon
over multiple time periods. Time-based elements represent the availability of a
technology, product, market or decision point. Often, the timing of an event may not
be certain. Nevertheless, placing this information in the time domain is extremely
important, in that it forces the enterprise to consider its implications.
The concepts of scenarios and scenario planning also apply to roadmapping. If the
timing of an event, such as a new competing product introduction, has a great
degree of uncertainty, two or more scenarios may be mapped. The key is to capture
the knowledge and information that impacts the enterprise so that it can be used in
formulating strategic plans and business decisions.
For example, Corning, a leading diversified technology company, focused on entering
new markets, but strategic planning across the organization was not aligned with
portfolio planning, R&D efforts or market trends. The company used roadmapping
across three divisions to align corporate strategy, R&D and portfolio planning. This
helped them identify and select new market opportunities, enter markets early, and
earn positive returns for the company within 24 months. The company also saw a
decrease in development costs due to fewer last-minute changes that were difficult
to integrate further down the development chain.
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How Roadmapping Is Being Used
Roadmaps are being used by companies to create, maintain, share and visualize emerged as an extremely
strategic planning information across the enterprise. Roadmaps define clear
communication and relationships across products and suppliers, and within effective process for
corporate strategies. Stakeholders can view role-based data representation and creating and visualizing
see what is important to each specific user, thus raising the level of accountability, relationships among
as each element in the roadmap has a specific participant tied to it. business functions in
support of strategic
Roadmaps are valuable strategy tools because at their core they are all about making
decisions. “What-if” scenarios, technology implications, product evolution and technology planning.”3
supplier collaboration are often dedicated subjects of detailed roadmaps that – University of Cambridge
support product portfolio decisions, merger and acquisition decisions, and even end-
of-life or divestiture decisions. Time provides a common denominator on which any
number of dimensions can be played out in advance, creating a canvas on which
uncertainty and opportunity are managed into highly probable choices that create a
company’s future. Roadmapping software makes this process even easier.
For example, Motorola, a global communications leader, used roadmapping software
to track and organize tens of thousands of product roadmap documents distributed
across the enterprise. The company reported saving more than $100 million in
12 months by consolidating strategic product planning projects across business units.
By halting development on a chip that would soon become obsolete, they saved an
additional $100 million. Today, thousands of users actively plan, collaborate, and
view Motorola’s innovation projects and new potential products using roadmapping
software. “Every enterprise needs a
process to track innovations
At Honeywell, the need for an improved roadmapping discipline grew out of a desire
to improve the link between technology innovation, product development and cus-
tomer needs. The company sought a business strategy tool that would help them 1) their applicability to
evaluate external conditions that impact their business, understand their planned the business, and
investments, and decide how to achieve their business goals. In the first 12-18 2) if, and when, to
months of deploying roadmapping software, the company improved visibility into implement..”4
upstream R&D efforts, ensuring that projects the company is investing in today are
on target with what’s important to the company’s future. They now have the ability
to leverage roadmaps across their entire enterprise, quickly adjust to ever-changing
conditions, and be confident that they are aligned with business objectives.
As these examples demonstrate, roadmapping provides companies with a multidi-
mensional view of events and other significant milestones as they are anticipated to
take place across time. Motorola was able to save money by consolidating project
resources. Honeywell was able to ensure that projects they’re working on today are
in line with what’s important for their company’s future. Corning was able to bring
products to market faster.
Companies that get the most out of their strategic roadmapping initiatives act
decisively on the information revealed in their roadmaps. They take advantage of a
roadmap’s unique capability to create alignment among business functions that move
in-and-out of synch, unnoticed. And, although companies often use roadmaps to
share a plan, their purpose is often to stimulate thinking about how to improve a
plan by managing the uncertainty that it contains.
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Roadmaps are effective because they manage uncertainty. This is often one of the
elusive facts of roadmapping that is not easily understood. Yet, every plan to address
the future must take into account the level of confidence in each part of the plan in
order to identify and reduce uncertainty as the plan is further developed.
Benefits of Roadmapping
Using roadmapping as a strategic planning process, companies benefit from the
increased visibility of plans. Such visibility makes it easier to model future scenarios
for alternative investment opportunities. Executives no longer rely on “gut feel” to
make decisions. Instead, they become informed decision makers who can view
alternatives, perform ‘what if’ analysis and proceed with the best courses of action.
Flexibility in roadmapping also allows for quick modification of product offerings to
meet new market demands and adapt quickly to change. It promotes in-depth
collaboration between the company, its customers, and suppliers.
Roadmapping enables manufacturers to monitor the progress of any number of
product development programs in real time and allows users to visualize where
those projects fit into the larger network of collaborative development initiatives.
It also increases cross-functional visibility, an advantage that can help uncover
opportunities for the reuse of technology across the organization.
Because redundant work is minimized and technology reuse is expanded, there are
fewer product delays. Thus, time-to-market improves. Roadmapping is also an
effective way to evaluate whether an organization’s competencies and capabilities are
improving over time.
Benefits of Roadmapping
Produces greater alignment between R&D spending and product development
Sharpens clarity of strategic vision, resulting in better-informed decision making
Manages data, product plans, and goals at a high level
Links markets, products, technologies, capabilities, and supplier intent
Enables discovery of technology re-use and synergy opportunities
Reveals gaps, challenges, and uncertainties in product, technology, and capability
Reveals long-term strategic weaknesses before they become critical
Communicates and provides visibility into strategic program direction across the
Enables growth of product portfolio in line with corporate and market demands
Provides direction to project teams and enables them to quickly see changes in
strategic events or direction
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Roadmapping With Software
While the business value associated with strategic roadmapping is significant, the
scope and complexity of managing so much roadmap information without software is
daunting. Some organizations begin strategic roadmapping using Microsoft Power-
Point®. However, the ever changing information quickly makes this approach
Roadmapping software enables stakeholders to view dynamic planning information in
real time, so critical decisions are based on the most current information. Robust
roadmapping software does what no other planning solution can do: it makes it
possible for a number of stakeholders to work collaboratively on any given project
and reveals connections among other ongoing projects across vast enterprises.
Vision StrategistTM software makes effectively managing innovation a reality.
Vision Strategist streamlines the data gathering process, provides more accurate
data, and offers insight into missing data and trends. It can gather, update and
synthesize both structured and unstructured data, accelerating the information
gathering process and making it easier to create repeatable innovation.
Using Vision Strategist, organizations can share forward-looking product, market and
technology plans over time, gaining visibility into constraints and dependencies as
they emerge. By identifying relationships and linking projects in Vision Strategist,
roadmap data can be easily shared, updated and integrated into other parts of the
Dynamic content is easily managed using a central repository for housing planning
data. Because project plans are maintained centrally, whenever there is a change in a
plan the software automatically generates an alert to stakeholders affected by that
change, enhancing their ability to manage changing conditions.
For more information about our Vision Strategist solution and how we can help
your company achieve greater value from your roadmapping and innovation proc-
esses, call us at 952-851-7500, or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 “Strategic and Technology Planning on a Roadmapping Foundation,” Whalen
2 “Strategic and Technology Planning on a Roadmapping Foundation,” Whalen
3 “Customizing Roadmapping,” Research Technology Management, Vol 47, No. 2, Phaal,
Farrukh, and Probert
4 “Innovation: Manageable Process or Unmanageable Events?” AV-15-0808, Gartner Group
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