7 years, 1 month ago

What Is the Value of a Roadmap?

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RoadmapI get many questions about demonstrating the value of business architecture but a few weeks ago I was in a discussion with some fellow business architects who had a more specific question, “What is the value of a roadmap?”  After thinking about this a while, I came to the conclusion that we often miss the more important roadmap value elements.

What is a roadmap?

My idea of a roadmap is that it is a detailed articulation of strategy implementation. It depicts a sequence of investments and activities leading to attainment of a relevant goal. The goal might be a new business capability or improved capability. It might be achieving a specific share of market or revenue growth. It could also be a lower level goal like implementing a software system or standing up an organization.

What is a roadmap’s purpose?

A roadmap’s primary purpose is to facilitate consensus on the implementation approach for a given strategy. Orchestrating the sequence and aligning activities for the implementation teams is a secondary purpose. Both are important, but it is consensus that drives the most value. A roadmap has multiple value points:

Value point 1 – Consensus on direction. The first roadmap value point is creating consensus on the approach to strategy implementation. The roadmap answers the question, “Do we agree on this specific approach to reach our goal?” No one roadmap can clearly be the absolute best alternative – there are too many variables to analyze. The goal is to get a majority of stakeholders to agree that this specific roadmap will realize the intended objective and that they cannot offer a better option.   

Value point 2 – Facilitate investment decisions. Here the roadmap answers the question, “Are stakeholders willing to invest?” Even broad stakeholder agreement does not guarantee the necessary investments to bring a roadmap to life. Investment depends on many factors including: available of funding, availability of skills, and prioritization of the goal against all other competing opportunities. Maybe the roadmap’s objective is simply too expensive. A roadmap creates value by clarifying the investment decisions executives must make. A decision not to invest is not a reflection on the roadmap’s value. If a roadmap brings clarity to the investment process, it has done its job and provided value.

Value point 3 – Efficient execution. Well-designed roadmaps sequence investments to ensure maximum return. Most roadmaps require participation from multiple stakeholders. Without an agreed to sequence of events, organizations run the risk of making investments in building capabilities that must sit idle waiting for other participants to complete their work.  

Value point 4 – Improved strategy management. Value point four answers the question, “Did executing the roadmap in fact result in the attainment of the intended objective, and did attaining the objective result in the expected business benefits?” This is the validation of the roadmap process. Roadmaps provide a repeatable process to clarify and gain consensus on strategic investments. Successful roadmaps give the organization confidence that future roadmaps will produce the desired results. Unsuccessful roadmaps inform business architects where the need to improve the process.

The bottom line:_______________________________________________________________________________________________

Roadmaps create value in multiple ways. They can be powerful tools to attain consensus on strategy implementation approach, test investment assumptions, ensure execution efficiency, and create a repeatable, improvable process. Business architects should ensure they are using roadmaps to capture all four value points.


Tagged: Best Practices, Business Architecture