Description: A Roadmap shows a path from current state to a desired future state. The roadmap method builds consensus on vision, goals, milestones, and deliverables. The roadmap can be used to rally a community around a plan for action as well as manage expectations for outcomes over time.
A roadmap will typically show:
A long-term vision
A high-level sequence of milestones (not necessarily with actual dates)
High-level goals and deliverables/outcomes for each milestone (or in each phase)
A high-level level sense of dependencies (early deliverables are prioritized because they support later deliverables)
A roadmap is typically informed by other things that don’t necessarily appear in the roadmap; see Method section.
Build consensus around a problem and path to a solution
Getting a list of actions that need to be done to get to the solution
Getting many points of view on a problem
Be able to guide more specific project planning, work planning, etc.
Typical scenarios include:
Audience: Executive sponsors/champions, business stakeholders, IT directors; potentially also affected users
Scope: A domain across time, typically spanning multiple years
Goals and outcomes: Create shared vision, set long-term goals and expectations, and agree on a sequence of high-level outcomes; provide enough context for more specific project planning or work planning; create transparency
Audience: Initiative sponsors, business stakeholders; potentially also affected users
Goals and outcomes: Create shared vision, set long-term goals and expectations, and agree on a sequence of project outcomes; provide enough context for more specific project planning or work planning; create transparency
Roles: Initiation driven by business need, roadmap development process lead by architect with involvement of SME for technology/trend guidance and senior leadership for vision/strategy guidance.
Identify a problem statement
Gather feedback to identify the problem
Create an early vision/strawman for the roadmap
Identify and engage stakeholders
Refine the roadmap
Evolve the vision
Identify the big ideas
Identify outcomes, milestones, large chunks of work
Sequence the outcomes
A roadmap can show dependencies in a sequence, without a strict time dimension (see the UW-Madison “fishbone” example)
Summarize the roadmap in a communication piece
Publish, promote, communicate the roadmap; rally people around the roadmap
Establish roadmap document update interval and regularly re-visit roadmap to keep current
Vision and Roadmapping should be used to support shared understanding of a path from current to future state, typically over an extended period of time. It’s extremely important to gain buy-in and shared understanding of the future state with all sponsors and stakeholders. The end result of the roadmap is used as an anchor to support shared understanding and goal setting for all programs, initiatives and projects that are developed to support the roadmap.
Note that communication must be tailored to the audience - senior leadership will be interested in overview-level information with sequence and dependency details that can make use of colors, shapes, and other techniques for emphasis. Technical audiences may start with the same high level overview but will be well served by having more detailed, likely textual, backing documentation that may not be part of the actual roadmap.
Beware of creating unrealistic expectations by assigning firm dates to far future roadmap events.
This diagram communicates the larger vision. Other diagrams and tools can be used to complement the information in the roadmap and how the decisions were made.