Business today moves at a fast pace, with many teams using agile practices to deliver customer value quickly. But this speed often comes at a price: It’s easy for organizations that are moving swiftly to lose sight of their overarching vision or fail to understand what activities need to occur to meet their goals. Roadmaps are essential for keeping everyone on the same page. They help align stakeholders and reinforce the bigger picture by increasing visibility, improving transparency, and clarifying priorities.
Those benefits cascade throughout the business. In a study by the Harvard Business Review, 70 percent of workers said they become most engaged when senior leaders are continuously updating and communicating the company’s strategy. Similarly, 69 percent said they are most engaged when the business is transparent in communicating its goals.
Regardless of whether you are transforming your workforce, developing new operational routines, or introducing a new product or system, a roadmap can help stakeholders understand and efficiently execute on their collective efforts. Take these four steps to develop and use your own roadmap effectively.
- Map the destination
Roadmaps provide a platform for leaders to communicate their vision, intent, and priorities in a simplified format that’s easy for everyone to understand. And just as a driver has a specific destination in mind when starting the car, the business needs to know where it’s trying to go before it takes its first steps on the journey. Roadmaps give teams direction and a greater understanding of how they can orchestrate their work or product in a way that contributes to the success of an initiative. Ultimately, stakeholder satisfaction improves when people know they are making an impact and have information and resources to make decisions within their workstreams.
Involving leadership early in the roadmap activities ensures that you have clarity about the outcomes needed to make your vision a reality. It also provides visibility and transparency, which allow you to identify any stakeholders you may have overlooked. If stakeholders who are important to the process are left out, it can create gaps or misalignment along the journey to the end destination. This increases the likelihood of unplanned costs and delays in delivering value. Once you’ve identified and engaged the right teams, you’ll need to determine the best way to communicate the narrative around your vision to drive delivery.
- Design the route
There’s more than one way to achieve a final desired outcome—a driver typically has his or her choice of several routes, based on factors like traffic or a personal preference for highways vs. side streets. The organization similarly has choices when mapping the journey from point A to point B. That makes it critical to obtain group consensus on an approach, the related key components, and their priority. A roadmap should not be developed in silos but rather through workshops that encourage cross-stakeholder understanding, collaboration, and alignment. Having a neutral party facilitate the roadmap workshops reduces the risk that individual groups will focus solely on their own objectives and ensures that they consider shared goals.
Through collaboration, the team can identify key events and capabilities required to meet business goals and facilitate cross-team prioritization. These discussions give department leaders an enterprise view of the work required and insight into dependencies across teams. You can then identify key efforts, discuss the feasibility of critical phases, prioritize, and provide preliminary timeframes for the solution.
- Build the road
A driver, by necessity, relies on the infrastructure of the road on which he or she is traveling. The roadmap—which is the outcome of the organization’s process to define the destination and design the route—is the support system, or the infrastructure, on which the organization relies. It uses a simple format to convey a consumable message to the audience, creating a common understanding of the work that needs to occur. This helps unite the organization around a shared purpose.
The roadmap should be designed in a manner fit for purpose, with a format that reflects the scope of the activity, type of delivery methodology (e.g., waterfall, agile, or hybrid), and initiative size and complexity. It should tell a story using limited text and focus on the sequence of the value that needs to be delivered, not on individual tasks (see examples below). Because these factors are unique to each organization, there is no standard template or approach for the ideal roadmap.
- Adjust the path and maintain momentum
A driver relying on a smartphone navigation app may be automatically rerouted as traffic conditions change. Organizations, too, can benefit from changing course as conditions shift. Regularly revisiting the roadmap helps ensure it accurately communicates the current timeline, strategy, and value of the program. Roadmaps should be viewed as living, dynamic documents that are updated easily and often, enabling teams to recognize shifts and adjust appropriately.
Roadmapping, like driving, is a process. It’s one that helps unite your teams around a shared vision and the route you intend to take to get to your destination. By investing time, effort, and experience into developing an effective roadmap, you can position your organization to deliver greater value, more quickly.
If your goal is to maximize value along the path to your destination, click here to learn more about Transformation Momentum.