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Roadmaps and Roadmapping   
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Ten Reasons to Roadmap

Successful product development and management requires that a product team manage the complexities of producing a series of products at the right costs, with the right features, and using the most appropriate technologies. Product-Technology Roadmapping leads a team to create a plan that integrates market and customer needs, product evolution, and introduction of new technologies at the beginning of their development journey. The roadmap makes sure that gaps in the plan are identified and can be closed as needed in the future. It also serves as a guide for the team during their journey, allowing them to recognize and act on events that require a change of direction. And roadmaps communicate the teamís plan to portfolio decision makers, to customers and to partners and suppliers.

  1. Roadmapping is just good planning, for all the areas that contribute to a successful product line. The roadmapping process leads a cross-functional planning team to fully examine potential competitive strategies and ways to implement those strategies. Technology decisions are made as an integral part of the plan, not just an afterthought.
  2. Roadmaps incorporate an explicit element of time. Roadmapping helps the team make sure that they will have the technologies and capabilities at the time they will be needed to carry out their strategy.
  3. Roadmaps link business strategy and market data with product and technology decisions. Roadmapping prompts a team to be specific with respect to planned features or performance in terms of value for customers.
  4. Roadmaps reveal gaps in product and technology plans. Areas where plans are needed to achieve objectives become immediately apparent, and can be filled before they become problems.
  5. Roadmaps prioritize investments based on drivers. At every stage of the roadmapping process, the focus is on the few most important things: customer needs, product drivers or technology investments. The team is prompted to identify, implement, develop, or acquire the most important things first, spending time and resources in the best way. Also, with a set of roadmaps in a common format, portfolio decision makers are better equipped to make the tradeoffs and choices that meet the corporationís objectives.
  6. Roadmapping helps set more competitive and realistic targets. Product performance targets are set in terms of the industry competitive landscape. For example, experience curves are an especially useful tool for establishing industry based targets. Recognizing that a winning product strategy usually cannot be all things to all people, the team sets objectives to lead, maintain parity, or lag competitors in specific areas.
  7. Roadmaps provide a guide to the team, allowing the team to recognize and act on events that require a change in direction. Part of the process of developing a roadmap is to create a risk roadmap, identifying those events or changes in conditions that signal a need to reevaluate and revisit the plan during the development journey.
  8. Sharing roadmaps allows strategic use of technology across product lines. Cross-roadmap reviews look across the plans of several product lines to find common needs, capabilities that can be leveraged, or development costs that can be shared. Roadmaps can also support a common corporate database of available or needed technologies.
  9. Roadmapping communicates business, technology and product plans to team members, management, customers, and suppliers. With a roadmap, a team can clearly explain to customers and suppliers where they are going. A roadmap gives customers information they can use in their own planning, and can be used to solicit their reaction and guidance. With suppliers, a roadmap is a framework for partnership and directions setting. The roadmap also tells the larger development team, corporate management, and other development teams where the product line is headed.
  10. Finally, roadmapping builds the development team. The roadmapping process builds a common understanding and shared ownership of the plan, incorporating ideas and insights from team members representing the many functions involved in a successful development process.