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The Definitive Guide to Strategic Roadmapping

Discover how digital tools help you create robust strategic roadmaps in a shifting business landscape.

Introduction

Strategy and action are the Tao of business. To be successful, they must work in harmony.

A brilliant strategy is just wishful thinking unless you action it and action without a strategic objective is a waste of time and money. When the two come together in a strategic roadmap, firms become leaders in their industries and achieve sustainable success.

Here, we take a closer look at strategic roadmapping: the combination of strategy formulation and execution that enables your enterprise to plan effectively and monitor progress towards your goals.

Strategy and action are the Tao of business

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What is a strategic roadmap?

A strategic roadmap communicates your organization’s vision, it helps to bridge the gap between strategy and execution.

A strategic roadmap is a powerful tool for visualizing and coordinating your strategic goals. For example, if you’re developing a new product, a roadmap helps you understand where your existing products fall short, identify the specific functions or features your customers expect and outline the necessary steps in the development cycle to bring it to market.

A Strategic roadmap mainly does three things:

1.

It shows you where you are now.

2.

It defines the goal(s) you want to achieve.

3.

It lays out the path to get from where you are now to where you want to get. Your goal.

"My organization uses SharpCloud to manage our product development projects, resulting in a 10% increase in efficiency. We use SharpCloud to display and leverage data from other line of business tools; JIRA, JIRA Confluence, MS Office Project, CRM system and SAP. This provides us with a single source of truth."

Diana Grauer, Ph. D
Vice President of Engineering, Hoerbiger

The benefits of strategic roadmapping

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Collaboration

From the initial workshops to tracking and adjustment, roadmapping is a collaborative process. It brings teams together, clarifies understanding, and offers the opportunity for each participant to contribute and construct. Enthusiasm and engagement are often positively affected, and so ultimately is the bottom line of the enterprise.

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Responsiveness

You can analyze roadmaps and strategies and update them in real-time to stay agile. The results can be immediately available to all levels of management and all parts of the enterprise. You can integrate information and insights from customer-facing personnel instantly, updating the perception and understanding of key business areas.

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Flexibility

Paper documents are static. Although spreadsheets are easy to change, there’s no guarantee all copies in circulation are up to date. Even project management applications may need expert input to make ad hoc changes. Cloud-based tools like SharpCloud allow you to apply changes in real-time to any strategic roadmapping requirement and for any audience.

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Business insight

When strategic roadmapping becomes visually engaging, more people can contribute ideas and generate new insights. Instead of rows and columns of data, audiences see relationships. Instead of a hardcoded map, they can explore different possibilities. And instead of a strategy that gradually slips out of alignment with the real world, they can tweak or revamp to bring it back on track.

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The changing world of business

If you compared the list of Fortune 500 companies today with the list of a few decades ago, you might be surprised to see how many older firms have disappeared. With the accelerating pace of business, new, nimbler companies have been ousting established ones.

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52% of the year 2000’s Fortune 500 companies are now extinct

Ryan Berman

Over 90% of Fortune 500 companies use Microsoft Azure

Natasha Spurr

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Only 52 companies have maintained their place on the Fortune 500 list since 1955

AEI

Not only do they bring new business models, but they also adapt faster to changes in their markets. Instead of an annual strategizing exercise, they can evolve their strategy within a few months, weeks, or even days. This agility is part of their DNA. Many start-ups use technology to enhance internal communication and collaboration, boosting responsiveness to changes in customer needs and wants.

Other enterprises need to create similar levels of agility and responsiveness in their strategies and actions if they want to stay competitive. Organizational silos are luxuries that many enterprises can no longer afford. They need tools to get everybody contributing to, aware of, and aligned with the execution of their strategy—however fast it changes. And the strategic roadmap is one of the most effective tools at a business' disposal.

Types of strategic roadmap

Roadmaps vary depending on the business strategies or goals they support. Besides overall business roadmaps, common strategic roadmaps include market, technology, product, and vendor roadmaps.

Market roadmaps-icom

Market roadmaps

You may have marketing objectives in terms of market share, positioning, or brand recognition. Your roadmap integrates information from market surveys, sales figures, customer feedback, and so on. It shows the relationships between your progress to your goal, your investments in advertising, direct and indirect salesforces, market trends and influences, and competitors’ actions, as they relate to your objectives.

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Technology roadmaps

Your aim could be to create, master, or acquire technology to underpin expansion, technology leadership, or simply to remain competitive. Your technology roadmap may have specific milestones you must meet by a specific date. Investments in research and development staff and facilities, test results, performance, and benchmarking against alternative technologies can all be part of your roadmap that shows you how to get from “here” to “there”.

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Product roadmaps

In industries like aerospace, each product launch, like that of a new jetliner, can be a make-or-break your endeavor. Elsewhere, successful new products may be vital for restoring profitability or turning flagging sales around. These products may also reach the market in a sequence of generations or versions, each new version building on the previous one to add new features and functionalities. Your product roadmap will let you not only monitor progress along the path initially chosen, but also change tracks if market needs or business conditions evolve in the meantime.

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Vendor roadmaps

You can also use strategic roadmaps to drive what vendors supply to your enterprise. For example, your business strategy may depend on finding or keeping multiple suppliers to avoid single points of failure. Or you may see a market opportunity that you can only exploit if your technology vendor works with you to develop the solutions you need. In these cases, a roadmap lets parties agree on the same path to the same results and sets out milestones to check progress and intermediate results. Bringing in external participants means you need a roadmapping tool or solution that can be made readily available to those who need to use it, securely and reliably.

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Developing your strategy

Effective roadmaps rely on well-thought-out strategies. You can simplify the process by following a strategic roadmap template, like this:

Get the facts

The situation of your business, its strengths, and weaknesses.

Set a mission statement

Say what your business will do for customers.

Set a vision statement

Say where your business will be in the future.

Define major objectives

Say what your business will do for customers.

Review your competitors

Assess threats and opportunities.

Make a tactical plan

Say what your business will do for customers.

Let’s say you provide transportation services to manufacturers. In this example, your strategy development steps might look like this:

Get the facts

Your current situation is that you have a fleet of old trucks (a possible weakness) and a workforce of experienced, motivated drivers and operations staff (a strength).

Set a mission statement

Your mission is to provide a complete, reliable, adaptive transport solution to manufacturers that’s both cost-effective and ecologically friendly.

Set a vision statement

Your vision is to be the national leader in your market within 4 years.

Define major objectives

Your objectives are to maintain profitability while renewing your fleet. You also want to become the preferred provider for at least 5 out of the 10 top manufacturing companies in the country.

Review your competitors

Your competitors might threaten a price war (threat), but they’re poorly positioned to satisfy the need of customers for value-added services. Services that your company can offer (opportunity).

Make a tactical plan

Sales training, advertising, and service personalized to individual customer accounts are some of your tactics for making all this happen.

"From a management point of view, SharpCloud for Enterprise has given a much greater visibility across the complete portfolio and enables the senior management team to rapidly delve into the detail of planned activities, to show how they link directly to our partner’s needs."

Pete Osborne
Senior Technical Fellow, AMRC

Getting your strategic roadmap into gear

Visualization plays an important role in the strategic mapping process. It helps bring people together to develop the right strategy and execute it effectively.

The right tool lets all stakeholders see how the strategy unfolds over time and comment on its progress. The relationships between different areas of your strategy can be complex and change dynamically. In the case of an emergent strategy, the execution may feed information back that then changes the strategy.

However, roadmapping is not the same as strategizing—even if the two are often closely linked. The purpose of roadmapping is to provide a management lens on the progress of your project. Using SharpCloud in this capacity allows stakeholders to see one version of the truth. As a cloud-based solution, it also allows key customers and business partners to participate and give their input.

The power of iteration and business stories

What we describe above may sound like a neat way of putting your business strategy in place and positioning your enterprise for the execution of that strategy. However, there’s just one problem. Business strategies do not always fall into place so easily. Making a mission statement and a vision statement may take several attempts, iterating and finally converging on versions that make sense for you, your teams, and your enterprise. It may take a while to create a business story that stands up in front of a critical audience and provides a convincing account of how your enterprise is going to succeed.

Technology can help you overcome these obstacles.

What are the benefits of using digital strategic roadmapping tools

An agile, cloud-based strategic roadmapping tool has many advantages over more traditional analogue approaches.

1

Review & evaluate different strategies

2

Visualize information

3

Adapt your strategy on the fly

4

Improve understanding and engagement

5

Monitor progress

6

Collaborate virtually

7

Connect disparate sources of information

8

Share your strategy

9

Create engaging business stories

10

Encourage participation

“We uphold a standard of transparency, accountability, and reliability, performing our work as a government that is worthy of the public’s trust. A strategic roadmap created with SharpCloud provides a clear picture of what projects and initiatives are underway and what progress has been made on each one. SharpCloud changes the way we run government.”

Todd Nacapuy
Chief Information Officer, State of Hawaii

Add a new dimension to your roadmaps

The roadmapping lens must meet the needs of the person looking through it. Different user groups need to see things from their perspective without being swamped by extra information that they don’t want. A dynamic and customizable digital roadmapping tool, like SharpCloud, makes it easy to filter data and explore initiatives across multiple business dimensions.

Extend and customize your roadmaps in SharpCloud with more views and custom navigation, and enjoy a greater understanding behind interconnected data with the power to focus on details and explore each dependency in-depth.

Diagrams, timelines, and maps already help people visualize the data and concepts driving a roadmap. Presenting this in 3D enhances the visualization even further. You can structure, layer, bring forward, push back, and present data to your audience in the most effective way. Business stories for strategies and their roadmaps can be created in real-time with stakeholders, stored immediately, and made available to users afterward, independently of time and location.

The power of iteration and business stories

The notion of a business plan written on the back of an envelope is well-known. The idea is that a good business plan with its mission statement, vision, objectives, and SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) should be simple enough to reproduce in comparatively few words. While it’s possible that one person with suitable inspiration can accomplish such a feat, executing the plan is likely to involve others.

The first level up from the envelope is the whiteboard with markers and colored sticky notes. For a few people gathered in the same room, this might work, although one disadvantage already appears. Whiteboards and sticky notes cannot easily be copied or accessed remotely. By the time different teams, departments, business partners, and even customers get involved, it becomes clear that paper-based approaches simply aren’t viable in the modern workplace.

Neither are electronic spreadsheets. While Excel files can be copied, shared, and transported, they typically lack consistency between different versions in circulation. There isn’t one version of the truth, but several—often with spreadsheet entry and programming errors into the bargain.

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Adopt a unified solution

Without a unifying solution that allows communication and collaboration across different levels, strategies end up separated from the operations they are supposed to drive. Market and business changes aren’t fed back into the roadmap or the strategy. And, if they are, it’s often only done so at the expense of great time and effort.

Other digital solutions, like project and portfolio management tools, may help bring the data and monitoring back into one digital place. For some strategic roadmaps, like a typical office move, a project management application may be enough. But, they aren’t always visually enticing or user-friendly for non-technical stakeholders.

The right digital tool combines these capabilities with more advanced features that enable you to create intuitive visual maps of complex ideas and relationships. It allows you to analyze situations, challenges, interdependencies and overall progress quickly and easily. It can also integrate data from other solutions such as spreadsheet files to make it simple and fast to update strategic roadmaps.

Technology Development Timeline - Roadmapping with SharpCloud

“SharpCloud has helped us to save time and money and be more efficient in identifying achievable innovations, using this open channel of communication, collaboration, and transparency."

Michael Barry
Technical & Innovation Manager, BMT

Who will be on the next Fortune 500 list?

In the same way that this well-known list has changed in recent years, we can expect it to change significantly again in the future. Of course, for every company in the Fortune 500 list, there will be hundreds of thousands of others, all successful in their own way. Strategic roadmapping is likely to play a large part in this success, as enterprises use it to enhance goals and alignment, as well as to spark new ideas and achieve even higher levels of performance.

"The ability to visualize real-time updates and insights in a collaborative fashion helps provide greater visibility and interaction to how the overall Portfolio is performing".

Lewis Choi
Senior Director IT, Thermo Fisher Scientific

About SharpCloud

Connect your roadmaps for complete insight.

SharpCloud is a no-code platform for enterprises to business productivity apps such as strategic roadmaps. SharpCloud helps you and your teams to visualize interdependencies and progress, and to keep all your stakeholders on the same page with dynamic, real time data, all in one place.

SharpCloud brings together resources you currently use, such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and other Office 365 applications, and seamlessly integrates across multiple platforms, allowing you to communicate, interact, and collaborate across multiple documents and data in context and by topic.

By gathering information from different data sources in one place, SharpCloud users can quickly create and explore powerful business stories (apps) that can be used as presentations, strategic roadmaps, or project portfolios. With hundreds of customizable and interactive views, SharpCloud has the power to provide the insight required. 

Thanks to embedded images, video, documents, and discussion, your business stories become visually impressive and truly interactive. Use SharpCloud for executive & leadership presentations, knowing your presentations are always showing the latest facts and figures or empower teams to display data on mobile, desktop, touchscreens, and more.

Through smarter, more informed decisions, SharpCloud enables you to increase business agility, solve business challenges and innovate faster across the organization. 

Truly data-driven

Build business apps instantly using data from your existing line of business tools.

Communication is made easy

Say what your business will do for customers.

Seamless collaboration

Access your data and stories from the cloud, on mobile, and touchscreen.

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Action without strategy is wasted effort. Get your roadmaps into gear with SharpCloud, book a personalized tour. 

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