What Is a Business Roadmap and Why Do You Need One?

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Creating your business plan is a powerful process, designed to get you to think deeply about how your business will function, attract investors and customers, and become successful. Yet the business plan does not tell you every path to take, the twists and turns needed to get where you want to go or how to make sure you do not get lost.

That is where the business roadmap becomes invaluable. 

As seen in the recent Top Business Planning Tools for 2019, Rated and Reviewed, your planning is the place to get your business off the ground. Next, you need to understand what a business roadmap is and why you need one.

Defining the Business Roadmap

A business roadmap is a big-picture perspective on your business that takes a long-term approach to charting the company’s course.

The roadmap can do several things for your company, including:

  • Illustrate your core objectives
  • Articulate growth strategies
  • Prevent unit siloing
  • Outline department roles
  • Force leaders to ask and answer hard questions
  • Measure accomplishments
  • Fine-tune decisions around core priorities
  • Help business leaders understand each component of a strategy rollout
  • Detail what decisions need to be made when and by whom

Business roadmap

Building Your Roadmap

Victor Cascella, a leading strategy and operations consultant, suggests companies focus on five phases in developing their roadmap.

  1. Illustrate. Your business needs to show how value is created for customers. The focus should not be on the products or services provided, but rather the business processes, which are often cross-functional, that deliver the benefit. These are the core processes, which are supported by enabling processes that serve the core processes.
  2. Translate. Once a strategy is developed, leadership must articulate which business processes are most critical for developing products and services, usually by defining the financial impact of each process. In this phase, leaders translate the strategy into operations.
  3. Indicate. This phase is about measurement. You need to decide on how to measure and which data are required to show the linkage between processes and performance. Those linkages need to be measured against your business and customer objectives. 
  4. Dedicate. This is where people and culture come into play. In this phase, personnel is engaged and held accountable for achieving and sustaining process improvement. Process performance should be linked to performance management.
  5. Operate. This is where your people, tools, and reporting act to execute the processes.

Factoring In Time

A crucial element of your business roadmap is timing. A timeline embedded in your business plan allows you to establish milestones and targets, along with scheduled checkpoints where progress will be measured. 

The milestones and targets may be unit-based. For example, HR targets may involve completing hiring of key personnel while sales targets may revolve around revenue and customers. The key is to be transparent in these measures and timeframes and for leadership to look at these processes and timelines collectively, not in isolation.

With processes and roles defined and timelines delineated, it is time to get on the road, map in hand, and begin the journey.

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TOPICS: business growth strategy

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