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The best strategic roadmaps for your business

Studies by the Standish Group and the Project Management Institute concluded that 24 to 68% of all business projects fail, and an even higher percentage experience delays or go over budget.

Companies also fail at alarming rates. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 20% of new businesses fail within the first two years of opening. The failure rate worsens as the years go by: 45% fail within the first five years, and 65% within the first 10.

One of the most common causes of both project and business failure is insufficient short-term and long-term planning. Planning mistakes, such as inadequately defining a business’s market position or incorrectly identifying a project’s scope, can lead to weak business and project plans. These poor foundations can ultimately result in project and enterprise failure.

For these reasons, the most important task for both project managers and entrepreneurs is to clearly define requirements and expectations at the onset of a business or project.

One way to define these requirements and expectations is with a strategic roadmap, which is a method you can use to visualize a strategic plan and its components. A strategic plan helps project managers and entrepreneurs define goals, outline each step, identify roles, and map out processes.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the different types of strategic roadmaps and learn how companies like yours can utilize them with MindManager.

What is a strategic roadmap?

A strategic roadmap is a visualization of a business’s strategic plan. You can use this tool to:

  • Identify your main goals.
  • Understand how the various components of a project or business relate to one another.
  • Chart the steps needed to realize your goals.
  • Prioritize and assign all necessary tasks.
  • Allocate the proper internal and external resources.

It is important to note that a strategic roadmap is not static. It should be used regularly to drive conversations about the business and its goals. You can then apply the outcomes of these conversations to make adjustments to your plans as they change.

You can also use a strategic roadmap for project management purposes; i.e., to identify and track milestones throughout your initiative.

Components of a strategic roadmap

Your strategic roadmap will be based on your strategic plan. A strategic plan is often very detailed and includes components such as an executive summary of the business, an “elevator pitch” of the company’s contributions to an industry sector, and marketing and operations plans.

At a higher-level visualization of your strategic plan, your strategic roadmap will not include all of your plan’s details. A strategic roadmap will often contain the following components:

  • Business vision
  • Business values
  • Main business objectives
  • Strategies to meet objectives
  • Potential roadblocks
  • Milestones

Common types of roadmaps

There are many different types of roadmaps. Depending on your business or project, you may want to choose one of the following styles—or even blend them—to make a roadmap that meets your needs.

User story map roadmap

With the user story map roadmap, you and your stakeholders will brainstorm all the features that will be important to your product from a customer’s perspective. For example, the price, features, and customer service model.

Approaching the exercise from the consumer’s viewpoint enables you to identify all the user activities that you need to cover with your product. This helps to create “stories” of product use.

The Story Map roadmap is an excellent tool to use at the beginning of a new project or during product development.

Goal-oriented (GO) roadmap

A goal-oriented (GO) roadmap provides an overview of the goals for your product development. It prompts you to identify your product’s or business’s most valuable features—the features that will enable you to reach your goals. It focuses more on the goals you wish to achieve and less on the actual work that you will do to achieve them.

The GO model asks you to identify the three most important features for the release of a product (or business). Since it does not provide a lot of space, it encourages you to use brevity and narrow down the focus of your product and its features.

Since the GO roadmap focuses more on the product, it’s ideal for product owners. However, it’s also ideal for stakeholders, since it keeps an eye on added features for future releases.

Now-next-later roadmap

The now-next-later roadmap breaks down a project or plan into easy-to-understand pieces. As the name suggests, your project or business plans fall into three categories: now, next, and later.

With this model, you can easily prioritize tasks. It is clear that you must focus on the “now” tasks first. This keeps your focus on track and discourages you from putting energy into tasks or projects that can wait until a later date.

Since the now-next later model helps prioritize tasks, it is an excellent model to use after you’ve defined the focus of your product and its features. This roadmap is thus particularly helpful when used in combination with the GO product roadmap, which is focused on the product’s features rather than your business plans.

Portfolio roadmap

A portfolio roadmap illustrates all of your planned product releases at the same time. This enables you and your team to visualize how the projects relate to one another.

With this overview, you and your team can easily plan different phases of your project and gain a clear vision of how all of the moving parts of your project fit together.

Since a portfolio roadmap provides a strategic overview of a product and its various versions, it is an excellent resource for executives and internal stakeholders.

How successful businesses use strategic roadmaps

Given that roadmaps take into consideration the diverse components of a project or process, they are an excellent way for your company’s project managers and their teams to develop a clear and transparent overview of a project or a process as a whole.

Once project managers and teams establish a clear overview of the project’s scope, roadmaps are a useful method to determine your project’s details.

Here are some examples of how creating and implementing roadmaps can support your business operations:

  • Leadership. Since roadmaps provide information regarding a business’s strategy, vision, goals, and corporate metrics, board members can more easily understand how a new product, service, or project fits in with and supports the organization’s goals as a whole.
  • Development. The roadmap’s specific product, service, and project details give development teams the information they need to make concrete action plans.
  • Marketing. The roadmap helps your marketing team understand leadership’s goals, strategies, and vision, and how each new product or product feature benefits the customer.
  • Sales. A better understanding of critical details, such as customer benefits for a new feature, can help your sales team sell a product or service.
  • Customer support. Your customer support team needs up-to-date knowledge about your products and services so they can best advise your customers on potential solutions to problems or product upgrades. By keeping your team in the loop for product updates, you help them proactively prepare for—and solve—potential issues.

The benefits of using visualization tools to create roadmaps

As projects progress, it’s not uncommon for teams to feel bogged down by the waves of information and communication. It’s easy to get lost in the details (and sometimes, the chaos!).

Ideally, projects incorporate best practices with a detailed structure that includes important processes, resources, and schedules. To present these, consider using visualization tools, such as mind maps, which present information in a visual manner. Mind maps help consolidate often unstructured information into a centralized visual overview.

Visualization tools are like life vests: They provide a master guide of clear information needed to help your team stay on track (and afloat).

Visualization tools are:

  • Innovative. Data in its raw form can be dry. (Does anyone really love a spreadsheet?) Visualization tools are engaging, bringing data and processes to life.
  • Intuitive. You and your team do not need to learn how to read visualization tools. The information is easy to understand when presented in visual formats such as boxes and flowcharts.
  • Effective. 68% of individuals understand information best when it is visualized. With data in this form, you and your teams are more likely to comprehend complex ideas and processes.

Most projects will require various data such as finances, risk scenarios, and resource allocations, for example. Visualization tools enable project managers to identify, structure, and communicate this data to different stakeholders.

Project managers can also benefit from using visualizations in their everyday planning and work. When presented visually, objectives, priorities, requirements, responsibilities, tasks, and schedules can be considerably easier to understand and tweak/update as needed.

Visualization tools also help align teams and improve their communication. Most projects require various individuals and departments to collaborate and meet deadlines. Having a master guide enables teams to easily locate their tasks, identify who they are to collaborate with, and keep track of responsibilities and due dates.

How to create visual roadmaps with MindManager

With MindManager, you can quickly present information in a visual format.

MindManager comes pre-installed with many templates for you to choose from, including process maps, concept maps, visual maps, mental maps, knowledge maps, and idea maps. You can also create your own map using a blank template.

Since these MindManager templates are easily customized, you can use them as the basis for the roadmaps mentioned throughout this article. You can also use the tool to build any type of roadmap you need from scratch.

A roadmap is just the beginning. When the project is underway, MindManager’s templates for project planning, timelines, process maps, and team meetings will help keep your team on task and your project on track.

Since a strategic roadmap should be agile, it is important that your team be able to view and provide feedback on your roadmap throughout the creation and implementation processes. MindManager helps with this since it is easily integrated into common workplace tools and software, including Microsoft Outlook, SharePoint, and Microsoft Teams.

MindManager also integrates with applications such as Asana, Google Docs, Box, and OneDrive and offers direct import and export of various file formats (e.g., Microsoft Project, Word, and PowerPoint) to visualize data.

Discover the benefits of using MindManager to create strategic roadmaps.

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