There are many types of strategic roadmaps. Almost all of them can be broadly be defined as a type of plan intended to guide the progress towards a certain goal. A roadmap is usually created to offer a look into the future of a topic while taking the main changing factors into consideration.

Technology roadmapping was pioneered by Motorola in the 1970s as a means to align product development with ever-changing technology. Basically, they integrated elements of a strategic plan into a visual representation that was simple but on a high level.

Today, we’ll be taking a look at some amazing strategic roadmap examples that will help you create a more user-centric product.

What is a strategic roadmap and why is it so important for the success of your company?

Before we show you strategic roadmap examples, we first need to tell you what exactly is a strategic roadmap.

A strategic roadmap basically communicates your company's vision. It is a tool designed to help you visualize the key steps need to achieve your company's mission.

Strategic roadmaps are usually created by the most senior-level stakeholders in a company. They focus on mission-critical business objectives and usually include long-term plans, timelines, and deadlines. While product roadmaps, which usually show which features and decisions will be made in the short-term, strategic roadmaps focus on the long game and what needs to happen down the road, far in the future.

Strategic roadmaps communicate what your company is going to do, why it's going to do it in a way to get everyone on board to start thinking about how to anticipate the future.

Strategic roadmaps can also be a great tool to facilitate communication and help align everyone around the overall strategic plan of the company. It does this by illustrating a comprehensive view of the long-term plan that is understandable by everyone.

Many companies just jump straight from their initial strategy into execution or sometimes implementation planning.

Usually, an execution plan is created by getting many groups of people, putting a workshop for each of them, maybe doing some exercises, drawing, handing out sticky notes, and start making a list of initiatives. These workshops facilitate the question "What activities or initiatives do we need to execute to successfully achieve our goal?"

The workshop usually ends up with everyone writing a list of what they think needs to be done.

By doing things like this, your company's strategy is bound to fail. Why? It's missing a key ingredient. A good strategy roadmap consists out of three parts: what must be changed to fulfill our mission, why it must be changed, and in what order the change should be done. If you have these three key parts cover, good. Just continue doing what you are doing and stick to the strategy roadmap.

How do you develop a strategic roadmap for your company?

Creating a strategic roadmap is not a quick and easy task. There is no need to hide that. But, that is not necessarily a bad thing. To design a good company-wide strategic roadmap, you need to start with the strategic planning process.

The strategic planning process consists of the following steps:

1. Figuring out the company's mission and objectives

The company mission is usually defined by C-level executives and other key stakeholders (depending on your company's structure) and it includes its values, purpose, and all forward-looking goals that are there to guide all the future opportunities and endeavors of the company.

When you have defined the business vision, you can now focus on defining measurable objectives: market position, market share, earnings growth, sales targets, and the company's reputation.

2. Analysis of your business

At this stage, you need to identify the strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities of the company. There are numerous analyses that can help you do that: SWOT analysis, scenario planning, growth-share matrix, PEST analysis, and more.

3. Generating strategic options

This is usually the most complicated step as it involves developing several different strategic options based on your analysis that the company may need at any time. All the options should be easy to describe and should contain the strategic intent, your place in the value chain, what products are you planning on selling, at what price and where to sell them to maximize the value.

4. Developing a roadmap for strategic planning

In this stage, you have to create the roadmap for where your company aspires to be in a couple of years. Don’t treat it like a to-do list.

5. Implementing the strategy in your company

Now that you have figured out the strategy, you need to implement it. This process usually involves allocating resources and aligning staff motivation with the strategy so that the goals you set can be achieved. This is the make-it-or-break-it stage.

6. Evaluation and control processes

To make your strategic plan is performing as you intended it to, you need to regularly review and evaluate the processes as well as refine or make any necessary changes as needed.

How do you prioritize roadmap items?

One of the most important aspects of a strategic roadmap that is often forgotten is prioritization. Basically, if you want to build a great product today, you need to make sure that your strategic roadmap is designed so that your overall strategy is user-centric, ie. making sure your users’ wishes are fulfilled should be your priority.

To prioritize roadmap items, you need to do the following:

1. Gather actionable data

Always start from a data-informed approach. Analyze your product, create a few surveys, consult your customer support team, and observe your current and potential users as they interact with your product.

This will help you figure out what features or improvements your users are looking for.

2. Prioritize what to do

Now that you have figure out what your product is missing, you need to figure out in what order should you add the changes. To do so, you need to aggregate all your feature requests and rate them against the cost and value drives. The feature with the highest score is the first one you need to do.

3. Build your product roadmap

The final step in this process is to build your product roadmap based on the objective priorities laid out in the prioritization stage. The product roadmap should be inlined with your overall strategic roadmap.

This basically means that deciding on when and who should work on each of the priorities but making sure that this isn't crashing with the strategic roadmap of your company.

3 amazing strategic roadmap examples

Now that we know what are strategic roadmaps, why are they important, how to create one and why are product roadmaps a crucial part of the overall strategic roadmap, let’s take a closer look at 3 of the best examples that will help you build an user-centric product.

Timeline strategic roadmap example

The first strategic roadmap example is great for organizations that are planning their business growth on a monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis. This strategic roadmap example can be used for tracking all of the key initiatives and milestones of each of your departments and how they contribute to the overall business strategy.

Swimlane strategic roadmap example

The swimlane strategic roadmap example is great for businesses that are a bit less strict about the exact calendar time of their strategic planning. Basically, this type of roadmap assigns an individual swimlane to each team/department and organizes their strategic initiatives by status. This allows any stakeholder to easily see the progress of each strategic project.

Phased strategic roadmap example

The phased strategic roadmap example is similar to the timeline example because it is based on an assumption that the company is going to follow a calendar. Also, the start of a new phase is dependent on the completion of a previous phase. This strategic roadmap example is great for companies that are very structured.

The bottom line

A strategic roadmap is a very important tool in the arsenal of today's companies. They exist to help you communicate your company's vision by visualizing the key steps in achieving your company's mission. They communicate all of the actions you and your company are going to do in the future, why are you doing that so that you’ll be able to get everyone on board and fulfill the same mission. A strategic roadmap is basically a blueprint of a company's success and being without one is almost impossible in today's business world.

If you want to build a great product today, you need to make sure your overall strategy is aligned with the wishes of your users. Making sure they are getting what they want out of your product will ensure the longevity and success of your company.

Strategic roadmap examples that are great for user-centric products are the timeline, swimlane, and the phased strategic roadmap. All of them are user-centered, designed to support various organizational structures and products, and will for sure help you achieve your company's goals.