What Is business roadmapping? (Definition and tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 8 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

To start a business and run it successfully, plan it adequately by outlining how it can operate. One of the best tools for the success of a business is a business roadmap. Understanding business roadmapping can help you visualise your organisation's plans, goals, structures and deadlines. In this article, we define business roadmapping, including its components and significance, explain applications of a roadmap and provide tips for creating a business roadmap.

Related: A beginner's guide to process mapping (with helpful tips)

What is business roadmapping?

Business roadmapping is the use of a document that outlines a long-term strategic plan. It explains what a company or institution intends to achieve and how the leaders plan to get there. Defining what business roadmapping is can help all teams within an organisation work toward the same goal. Unlike a business plan, a business roadmap doesn't offer individual items or roles in fine detail. It focuses on the main objectives of the best strategies. The main aim of a business roadmap is to enable easy alignment and tracking.

A business roadmap isn't a fixed document, so its methods and priorities are subject to change. Anything within the document may be rewritten to suit changing markets or new challenges. Although its primary function is to show how an institution plans to grow, it's also helpful for management, enterprise architectural projects or individual projects.

Components of a good business roadmap

A business roadmap is critical in executing what you want to achieve in a specific time frame. Good business roadmaps usually have the following components:

Compliance

In most cases, it's the work of a business owner and manager to ascertain that their business adheres to all state and federal laws and regulations. A good business map explains how to reach performance goals within industry compliance. Have a keen look at external factors, such as technological, environmental and legal factors that may impact a business positively or negatively.

Compliance can vary depending on the industry or type of business. For instance, health-related businesses have compliance goals that differ from technology and transport departments. It's important to research the relevant laws, guidelines and standards of your industry in order to develop proper business practices. These standards may be protective of your team members or customers and show your attention to community well-being.

Data

Data is very crucial for gauging business success. It can be gathered and analysed in order to make better decisions for the future. For example, analysing old data or past data can help marketing departments evaluate strategies that generate most sales.

As you develop strategies and allocate resources or secure funding for the coming financial year, reflect on clear data points and analytics that tie to funds. Data fluency can give all stakeholders the confidence to analyse and hold open and honest conversations. Then you can make informed decisions.

Growth strategy

A company can use their business roadmap as a long-term guide to growth. They may add, revise or remove short-term goals, as the range of their products and services increase. However, the roadmap can provide the structure and reminder of their long-term vision. Consider organising this growth strategy at three levels:

  • Current strategy

  • Near term

  • Future strategy

Related: What is strategy and why it is important in business?

Technology

Technology plays a significant role in business roadmapping. Embrace the use of new technological software and tools as you plan your roadmap. Also, consider how technological changes may affect your business and any long-term goals. Keeping on top of technology can help your company prepare for and embrace any changes in your business environment, such as remote work, sales methods or distribution. Technology can also keep communication flowing through management levels and to your clients and customers.

Employee onboarding and retention

A good business roadmap develops plans for acquiring and maintaining quality employees. A strong retention and onboarding process leads to talent retention, which is critical for future success. Use your roadmap to state long-term goals for employee retention, such as offering bonuses for referrals and networking opportunities. Develop methods for your onboarding process, such as a mentoring program and performance evaluations.

Why is business roadmapping important?

Businesses can rely on the foundational structuring of their roadmap, because it provides a reminder of important objectives and maintains company focus. Although short-term goals or methods may change with time, a company's long-term goal stays with the roadmap. Priorities or budgets may shift, but only in alignment with these goals.

Businesses also use roadmaps to set organisational expectations and update financiers, executives and other stakeholders. In addition, business roadmapping promotes:

  • Accountability: Roadmaps create execution accountability within individual departments. It keeps departments focused on achieving business needs.

  • Planning: Roadmaps help anticipate resource needs and thus aid resource allocation ahead of time.

  • Cooperation: Creating a business roadmap requires many people in an organisation to share their expertise. It initiates collaboration and promotes a cooperative environment in your organisation.

Who are business roadmaps for?

Fortunately, anyone can create a business roadmap that shows whether a business' current activities are in line with their long-term business strategies. This can be done as an individual process in management or as a collaborative team activity. Anyone can use a business roadmap, as long as they own or work within a business institution. In most cases, business roadmaps are for:

Business owners and entrepreneurs

A business roadmap helps business owners structure their ambitions and vision and gauge the best methods of increasing performance. It can help predict challenges and enable problem solving for a variety of scenarios. A business roadmap can identify inefficiencies, explore new opportunities and adjust to changing markets. Roadmaps also help managers communicate by motivating their teams with the long-term company goals and how each team member's work is part of the process.

Managers

Business managers are in the best positions to recognise business opportunities. They often encounter practical situations that highlight how short-term goals should be adjusted for the long-term vision. They can make use of a company roadmap to explain how methods or strategies require revision. For example, they may explain how technology or market changes are providing new opportunities for expansion that feeds into long-term growth.

What is the difference between a business roadmap and a plan?

Unlike a business roadmap, a business plan is a more extensive document that explains the financial potential of a business entity. It's a more detailed document that takes time and research to prepare. A business plan helps to explain:

  • how to achieve goals

  • risks and their respective mitigation strategies

  • potential opportunities

  • financial predictions and projected cash flows

A business plan has the following advantages:

  • demonstrates you have done all the research to build the business

  • attracts investors and lenders

  • shows detailed financial viability

  • aligns team players with a vision

  • fulfils a requirement for business grants and loans

Both a business plan and business roadmap are beneficial for your organisation. Their importance and use depends on your specific needs. Your business plan often contains specific details about your business, both before its launching and throughout its growth. Your business roadmap contains a foundational vision and general structure for the growth of your company.

Related: What is a business continuity plan?

Tips for creating business roadmaps

Here are tips you can use to create business roadmaps:

Define your goals

Think of what you want to achieve in the next 10 to 15 years. Only include activities that contribute toward your long-term goal in the roadmap, as they're the most critical for shaping your business. Your short-term goals should contribute indirectly or directly toward this long-term goal. It may be helpful to structure your goals as SMART, which means they're specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound.

Related: Objective vs. goal: What are the key differences?

Involve relevant stakeholders

Identify your relevant stakeholders, including managers, team members and team leaders. Consider factoring in their views and opinions as you create goals. After you've completed the process, communicate these goals to the company. Help your employees feel involved in the goals and motivate their success.

Keep it simple

Consider keeping the business roadmap as simple as possible. Write clear plans and outline the steps. This makes it easy to understand and explain to your team members.

Constantly adjust the roadmap

Consider creating flexible roadmaps that you can update or alter based on recent developments, subtasks or information. You can create it digitally, making it easier to modify. You can adjust the roadmap as often as needed.

Related: 10 key business plan sections and why they're important

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