Welcome to Step 5 of the digital strategy roadmap planning. In our previous article, we explained how to identify the key themes for your digital roadmap. We also discussed evergreen lanes and the importance of tying your KPIs back to these themes to measure success.
In this final post of our Building a Digital Strategy Roadmap series, we will be discussing how to create your visual roadmap. It is important to understand where you are now, where you are going and how to get there without getting stuck in the details of your tactics. You need to be able to communicate your plans effectively and visually without being tied to spreadsheets. Spreadsheets are great for organising and prioritising but not very good at communicating a vision. Presentations take time to produce and alignment is a continuous struggle in most organisations. A roadmap is a good guide for teams and speaks to the longer-term vision, without losing sight of what is needed in the day-to-day.
A note on themes
We have previously discussed themes and why they exist. When crafting the roadmap it’s important to remember that themes can and should be updated annually or quarterly to align with the current needs and objectives. Establishing these themes is a great way to gain buy-in and vision alignment from stakeholders and team members. Themes should be clear and actionable by nature, so people are excited to implement them. Whilst a vision is highly unlikely to change from year to year (if at all), themes can change quarterly or annually, as these create the foundation of your roadmap.
Plotting themes and planning work
First, it’s important to identify all of your key milestones. These include peak trading days such as Black Friday and the festive season. Is there a particular feature that needs to be completed by a certain time? Now is the time to indicate this so you prioritise the right work and themes to support its success. For example, load testing and performance work leading up to Black Friday, or gifting options for the festive season.
Once this is done, getting a good idea of the capacity and budgets that you need to work within will help with prioritising the work you need to do. You want to ensure you have a good spread of efforts and hours across key themes, but that your critical larger projects are accounted for in the months they need to be executed. Balancing the needs with your budgets and team capacity can be tricky, and this is why it is so important to keep your roadmap flexible and easy to update.
We previously spoke around the evergreen lanes—these are also important to plot early on so you ensure there is always capacity to attend to the most important themes (we used performance and analytics as an example). The other evergreen lane activities to allocate time to monthly are bug fixes, maintenance and security updates. There will always be day-to-day work needed to deal with unforeseen bugs and other maintenance issues. It’s really important to ensure there is the capacity to deal with these as they arise.
Keep close tabs on the time allocation for the bugs/maintenance lane and ensure that your roadmap is not impeded or eaten up by time spent on bug fixing. Make sure that you can measure this regularly and report back to ensure you are on track. A general rule of thumb is to split the allocated budget (hours) 70/30 between roadmap work and bugs. This ensures you always have hours available for bug fixing, maintenance and security. But it also provides a significant amount of hours to invest in your roadmap to achieve your goals and drive innovation.
Roadmap Iteration Frequency
Roadmaps are updated on varying frequencies, depending on organisation size. Larger companies will update once every 6 months or annually, where smaller companies might choose to review quarterly. Flexibility is key, but where bigger teams are involved and more dependencies are present, longer-term planning is needed.
What tools should you use?
There are some very good tools available for building and sharing visual roadmaps. Some that are commonly used are:
Some companies offer free trials, and it is recommended to test a few before deciding on which one will support all of your needs for planning and communicating your roadmap.
Another important consideration is who you will need to share the roadmap with. You want to be able to view enough detail when discussing priorities with the teams, but you also want to be able to get a high-level view when discussing with senior stakeholders. It is important to ensure that the tool you use can cater to these different views, based on your company needs.
A final note. Good digital roadmaps:
- Are easily shareable and understood
- Are easily updated and agile
- Provide transparency to the vision for all stakeholders
- Gain alignment and buy-in from team members
- Get the teams excited about what they are building and delivering
Thank you for following and reading our Building a Digital Strategy Roadmap series. We’ve covered everything from creating goals, identifying key performance indicators, identifying activities and projects, all the way through to building a high-level thematic plan and ultimately, your visual roadmap.
It’s now time to get started on your roadmap and start working towards your digital vision! If you need help or advice, reach out to our global dedicated consulting team who can help guide and advise you on your journey! Thanks for tuning in.
Be sure to go back through all the previous steps of our Building a Digital Strategy Roadmap series: