HomeBlogThe roadmap: what is it and why use it?
Martijn Imhoff - Developer Dutch Coding CompanyMartijn Imhoff
July 31, 2020

The roadmap: what is it and why use it?

When launching a new product a strategic planning is essential. In our roadmapping session we can visualize your business objectives and product strategy. Bring your vision to life and get your employees, customers and investors on the same page more easily.

Key takeaways
  • We use a roadmap session with Slamstox as an example
  • A roadmap session visualises business objectives and product strategy
  • The process has 3 phases: explain, brain dump and synthesise
  • Use the Effort vs Impact matrix to prioritise

Roadmap example: Slamstox

Together with Pedro van Slamstox, we have drawn up a roadmap to map out his corporate vision. "The Student-Athlete Company", as Slamstox calls itself, guides students in the search for a suitable university in the United States and helps them initiate their college career. With the app we have developed, Slamstox can collect information that is required for registration of a student athlete. This is useful, but not sufficient. Slamstox wants to work towards guiding athletes from the beginning of their education to their professional sports career. So plenty of ideas, but how to start? Now is the time to create a roadmap!

The roadmap process

To kick-off we started with a roadmapping session in building SX at Strijp-S and settled down in the Shimano meeting room. An inspiring place full of bicycles, cycling clothing and bicycle photos. We brought pens and post-it’s with us. It promises to be an inspiring session. We divide the session into three phases: the explain, braindump and synthesize phase.

  1. Explain: As the name implies, during the explain part we elaborate on what a roadmap is and what can be achieved with it.
  2. Braindump: In the brain dump phase we put forward all suggestions and ideas. Minor improvements to the current process, and major developments in the long term. At Pedro’s we discussed his proposition: how does it work now, what do you want to improve next year, and what after? We have documented the results in a business model canvas, and mapped out his ambition: Guiding student athletes - national and international - from an early age up to their professional sports career.
    Now that we have established the proposition, we started with analyzing the current product: coaching student athletes by using the Slamstox app. We clarified which tasks we could automate to save time. By adding invoice management and the ability to communicate with parents in the app, Pedro and his team now can save a lot of time.
    Then we have determined the key moments: important moments throughout the year, such as fairs and product launches. For Slamstox, these are the application deadlines of the universities in the United States.
  3. Synthesize: With Slamstox's ideas, plans and timeline clarified, it is time to separate the main point from the supporting facts. By using the "Impact vs. Effort matrix 'method, we gave a clear picture of the various priorities. This way Pedro could immediately get started with the key issues.

Impact vs Effort matrix

'Impact vs Effort' Matrix

Fast results with low-hanging fruit

With the "low hanging fruits" (top left) you can make high impact with little effort. With those issues you want to get started as soon as possible. In the case of Slamstox, the low-hanging-fruit is the feature in the app that enables communication with parents. The addition to the app is realized quite quickly (little effort) and by involving the parents (usually the funders of the education) in the process, you keep them satisfied (high impact).

Investing in the future

In the high-effort / high-impact projects (top right) you will have to invest a lot of time, but it ultimately makes you stay ahead of the competition. These are the projects with which you can bring in new customers or serve existing customers in a better way. For Pedro this is the (further) development of the app. With his app further developed, he can coach his students during their studies in the US and set up a business structure that allows him to operate internationally.

Time on your hands?

The "Filler" tasks in the low-effort / low-impact section are the projects you can tackle if you have time to spare. These are the projects that require little effort, but can be valuable. Consider, for example, improving the search filter settings or texts on your website. Make sure to involve a developer if it concerns programming-related projects, so you can make a realistic estimate of the time required.

Ideas left? Shelve those for now.

The ideas in the high-effort / low-impact section are put on hold. Great ideas, but not relevant for now. When objectives have been achieved, for example a company has grown, the effort or impact can sometimes change. In Slamstox's case, it is the idea for a sign-up in the app. For now this is not relevant, because the app is only of interest to existing customers. But if new features are added to the app, that may change. Then it is time to pick up where you left off.

Invullen van de roadmap canvas

Nu alle informatie is verzameld en geanalyseerd, hebben we de roadmap ingevuld. We gebruiken hiervoor ons eigen roadmap canvas, met op de horizontale as een tijdlijn en op de verticale as de taakverdeling. 

Voor Slamstox hebben we de tijdlijn onderverdeeld in verschillende kolommen, met in de eerste kolommen de maanden tot de start van het nieuwe schooljaar afzonderlijk weergegeven. Dit biedt ons de ruimte voor een nauw gedetailleerde planning. De overige kolommen zijn ingedeeld per kwartaal, waarin we een ruwe tijdsplanning kunnen maken.  In de taakverdeling zijn de verschillende afdelingen van Slamstox opgenomen, zodat elke taak kan worden toegewezen aan een persoon of afdeling. Zo voorkom je dat taken blijven liggen omdat niemand daar de verantwoordelijkheid voor neemt. 

Strategic planning? Done!

By completing the roadmap template, your ideas will take shape. This makes it easier to communicate business objectives to your employees, customers and suppliers. The roadmap also shows what has priority: which activities can we postpone and with what should we get started right away? Now you can work effectively on improving your business objectives.

If you want to learn more about Roadmapping, check out our Roadmapping services page.

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