If you have recently thought of a business idea, chances are, that you may have come across the term business roadmap. While it may sound like an easy-to-make business plan, a business roadmap is a strategic document that charts out your company’s long-term direction and the steps needed to get there. It is a broad guideline - unlike lengthy business plans, it is not about fine details but the big picture.
A business roadmap is used to clearly outline the company’s key objectives and broader strategies which will be used to help achieve the objectives. It helps in keeping stakeholders and other team members always on-track towards success.
Let’s understand business roadmaps in detail and also learn some important tips to create a compelling one.
What is a Business Roadmap?
- Introduction - A business roadmap, like we already introduced, is a long-term view of your organization’s direction and ways to get there. What however differentiates it from a typical business plan is that it’s a higher-level visualization of your business’ big picture.
- Role of Departments - You can use a business roadmap to illustrate your business’s major objectives and the key strategies that will help in achieving the desired growth. If it’s a business with multiple departments, a business roadmap will prevent individual teams from getting isolated by defining the business’ future and how each department will play an important role in attaining the future growth.
- Illustration – A business roadmap helps illustrate the business’s growth through options like a strategic roadmap, start-up roadmap, marketing roadmap, etc. However, the most commonly used roadmap type is one which visualizes key projects and deadlines across business verticals.
While the most common use of a business roadmap is to showcase the growth trajectory of a business, they can also be used for various other strategic projects, like change management, department-wise projects, etc. If you are looking to find out ways to create a compelling business roadmap, we have put together some useful expert advice here.
How to Create a Business Roadmap?
1. Begin with Available Resources – While initiating a business roadmap design, ensure to take into account all the resources which will be required to execute the plan and reach a pre-decided target. A lot of times, entrepreneurs give up halfway or fail to achieve the desired results because basic resources like time or investment turn out to be insufficient. You can always make progress no matter the resources but the first step is to establish realistic and achievable targets especially when it comes to your time and money.
2. Have a Goal and Work Backwards – Set up a clear launch goal, like releasing a product into the market with the assumed number of customers. Your business roadmap should be drafted such that it helps in getting you there. When you begin backwards, it will help you answer many questions, like what steps are needed to accomplish the goal.
3. Prioritise Input over Output - In any business, there may be multiple paths which will take you to the same destination. Irrespective of the route the business takes, it will never be linear. Your business roadmap will likely set you off in the right direction and identify the most important stops for you. However, it will never predict your precise journey. The reason is that most of your business launch activities will depend on other external factors such as customers and also the market.
Who uses a business roadmap?
Anyone from entrepreneurs, business owners, or even business managers can use a business roadmap to ensure effortless strategy-related communication, which can otherwise be complex to explain. A business roadmap can also come in handy while planning your career path. It helps answer questions like what you want to achieve, timelines, purpose, etc.
Once you identify the potential opportunities for growth and development along with relevant partners and required resources, you’ll have to begin the execution by taking over the driver’s seat, no matter which industry you work in.
Entrepreneurs - For an entrepreneur, a business roadmap is crucial. You probably could have a million ideas and many corresponding responsibilities, so regular review of your exhaustive business plan will never be possible or even advisable. Instead, you could make use of a business roadmap. With only a glance, you will see how the business’s current activities align with the business's long-term objectives. You can instantly make changes as required. Since a roadmap is easily reviewable, you can share it with your team members to ensure everyone is on the same page. You can also use it for investor buy-ins; quickly demonstrating the business’s future growth potential and how their investment will enable the business to achieve the said growth.
Business owners – If you are a business leader, you will most likely have a clear idea of the direction in which you want to take your organization in the near future. While you may know where you’re going, does everyone else in the organisation know it equally well? The answer to this question lies in a business roadmap, which is essential for small business owners who want to see their team participating in achieving every milestone.
A business roadmap helps to chart out a vision and the essential steps which will be required to proceed forward. As a leader, you can also predict risks that may hamper the progress along the way and what resources will be required to get back on track. For established companies, a business roadmap helps in exploring new directions, identifying inefficiencies and modifying your focus as per the market evolution. If you aim to sell your company, you may not have a clear long-term strategy. However, with an effective business roadmap, you can aim to increase the business’s value over time.
With a clear business roadmap, your important personnel can do their best work along the way, even in your absence.
While working on a business roadmap, know that these are never set in stone. The business activities and priorities described in a business roadmap can always be amended along the way and can also be reshuffled as needed. The objective should always be to adapt the roadmap to reflect the current business environment.
- How is a business roadmap different from any other business process?
A business roadmap is the only document which provides a bridge between organizations, processes, functions and time. It allows the business employees to share a common vision and actively participate in designing the roadmap. It also adapts to changing situations, unlike other business processes.
- Why is a business roadmap required?
In today’s marketplaces, a business environment is generally unpredictable. With a competitive landscape, a business roadmap comes in handy for the business to know the right direction and course of action over time.
- What information is required in a business roadmap?
A business roadmap can be exhaustive and cover all possible information around the product offerings, market requirements, external factors, regulatory information, resources, etc.
- What happens after creating a business roadmap?
A business roadmap, once created, is used as a reference for the direction in which the business is headed. It can act as a measuring guide especially when it comes to checking the business progress.