The most commonly discussed roadmaps are often project and product roadmaps, yet many fail to tap into the full value of an even higher level roadmap – the strategic roadmap. The strategic roadmap can be understood as the roadmap for your organisation and how other projects, products or programs fit into the overarching vision of the organisation.
In this blog, we will learn to define a strategic roadmap, its various benefits and some tips to help you make the most out of your strategic roadmap.
This is a continuation of a series about roadmaps. Make sure to check out the introductory post and follow the series to learn more about the different types of roadmaps.
What is a Strategic Roadmap?
A strategic roadmap, also known as a strategy roadmap or a portfolio roadmap, is the highest level overview of the strategic objectives of the organisation as well the associated investments and activities that contribute to the achievement of those objectives. It helps visualise the various dependencies and interrelations between different portfolios and projects to give teams the opportunity to optimise their resources and processes appropriately. They are often a long-term roadmap that can span multiple years to help inform the long-term strategy and planning required of senior management or the project management office.
Strategic roadmaps possess a more top-down perspective that looks at where resources are being allocated, prioritised and utilised within the organisation as well as how well they align with the organisation’s goals. They can be drilled down to inform other roadmaps down the chain, such as product or project roadmaps to allow for complete visibility and clarity across the entire organisation. While they are powerful tools for guiding organisation-wide strategy, strategy roadmaps depend on the accuracy of other roadmaps to be effective.
What are the Benefits of a Strategic Roadmap?
Gaining a holistic overview of an organisation’s activities and objectives is one of the biggest benefits of a strategic roadmap but it is only the tip of the iceberg. Here are some other ways a strategic roadmap can bring value to your organisation.
Ensures strategic alignment of organisation-wide activities
While many organisations are able to tap into data across their entire information with our newest project management technologies, it is how we visualise and make meaning of the data which is the most valuable asset. Strategic roadmaps not only clearly visualise an organisation’s overarching strategy but divides activities by their alignment with strategic objectives rather than departmental or portfolio-based siloes.
When organisation oversight is clustered into distinct siloes, key leadership can often fail to recognise different opportunities for collaboration and efficiency as some projects in different portfolios may be trying to achieve the same goal without realising the other exists. By organising the strategic roadmap by strategic objectives, key decision-makers have a better idea of how the organisation is collectively reaching goals and how they can reorganise themselves to accomplish the goals more effectively.
Supports strategic decision-making process
All too often, organisations make decisions based on budgets rather than a holistic strategy. This budget-focused approach often leads to departmental infighting as departments fight for resources to push for their agendas. With a strategic roadmap, key decision-makers will not have an objective understanding of the organisation’s strategic direction, objectives and activities without the potential politicised views or biases. This ensures that only projects and investments that achieve the greatest value for the organisation as a whole are selected.
Facilitate greater long-term planning
Long-term planning is becoming increasingly challenging with our fast-paced and ever-changing market. With a strategic roadmap, an organisation can clearly visualise their vision and strategy at a higher level that can span multiple years while also providing opportunities to drill down the plan into sizeable chunks.
Strategic roadmaps are particularly powerful planning tools when paired with what-if scenarios and predictive analysis tools that allow teams to run various simulations and configurations based on accurate historic data. Teams can then prepare the appropriate responses and actions to mitigate or eradicate the potential negative fallout of ongoing changes.
Encourages innovation across the organisation
Without a portfolio-level view, teams can often miss different gaps or opportunities within their organisation. When teams can properly visualise the problems, it can also encourage new ideas and innovations that can potentially help the entire organisation. Be it an improvement to a project governance process or a new consolidated PPM solution, roadmaps encourage teams to see the interconnected relationship within an organisation and spur new ideas on how to improve those relationships or dependencies to improve overall efficiency.
Provides the organisation with greater agility and flexibility
In a fast-paced market, key decision-makers cannot wait until the relevant information is consolidated at lengthy period meeting sessions to make critical decisions. As a living document, a strategic roadmap is able to give these decision-makers an accurate understanding of their investments at any given time and allows them to easily identify the key areas of highest value generation for the organisation. With that level of visibility, decision-makers can easily reallocate and prioritise less essential resources to more value-adding activities or opportunities as they arise.
Improves stakeholder buy-in and alignment
It can often be challenging to communicate an organisation’s strategy and vision in a clear and concise manner that helps all relevant stakeholders stay on the same page. With a strategic roadmap, teams can visualise the organisation’s strategy in an easy-to-understand format that clearly defines strategic objectives and their associated activities. This allows stakeholders to understand the greater justification for various choices and minimises the opportunities for costly disagreements or misunderstandings.
When people can understand what projects are selected and why they are selected, they are more likely to be invested in the progress and success of those projects. By acting as the organisation’s central guiding strategic document, a strategic roadmap is able to improve stakeholder buy-in and ensure greater alignment.
Top Tips for Strategic Roadmapping
While the value of strategic roadmaps is clear, many fail to tap into their full potential. Here are some tips to make sure you make the most out of your strategic roadmaps.
Constantly update your strategic roadmap
It can be tempting to simply use a strategic roadmap as a planning tool, a document you make once a year and update every now and then according to your planning cycle. However, an effective strategic roadmap is constantly updated, renewed and reorganised to respond to the ongoing changes in the market. Rather than using the roadmap as a concrete plan, use it as a tool to facilitate an ongoing journey of monitoring, evaluating and reorganising the various assumptions and needs of an organisation to allow your teams to act promptly and effectively when challenges arise.
Use it to properly look at alternative approaches
Teams can often fall into the mistake of using their strategic roadmaps to justify their pre-determined strategy and plans. However, this one-tracked use of a strategic roadmap limits organisations from tapping into the innovative capabilities of a strategic roadmap. Make sure to use your roadmap to do more than justify your decision and keep track of risks but to fully explore alternative approaches and potential opportunities for improvement. With a bird’s-eye view, strategic roadmaps allow teams to see patterns they may have missed and encourage interesting collaborations that can better improve value generation across the organisation.
It is not just about numbers, it is about holistic performance
Roadmaps are a critical tool for communicating and collaborating, it is not about keeping track of stats and numbers alone. There are tasks and projects that can support a strategic objective but cannot be quantified or drilled down into sheer numbers alone. For example, how would you quantify various culture-building activities and their benefits into quantified figures? Rather than a simple status update, make sure to use strategic roadmaps to analyse and evaluate the holistic performance of the organisation in multiple areas and how both tangible and intangible activities can contribute to the strategic objectives of an organisation.
Tap into the full potential of strategic roadmaps with pmo365
Our team at pmo365 are complete advocates for enterprise-wide visibility and control. That is why we make it our priority to integrate the best strategic planning and portfolio analysis tools into our solutions so you can make the most of your strategic roadmaps and portfolio management activities. If you want to see our strategic planning tools in action, make sure to book a free trial with our PPM experts today!