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The 4 most important questions about creating an innovation roadmap

Innovation Roadmaps are highly innovative in innovation management. The popular tool is very practical, but the path to it is also sometimes challenging. Innovation Roadmaps are part of strategic innovation management to ensure that the maximum available resources are maximized.

An innovation roadmap is an important steering tool in the innovation process, which connects the planned goal and the way to get there.

The following four questions deal with the most important topics to be considered when creating a roadmap in order to arrive at a practical solution that effectively controls innovation day.

What is an innovation roadmap? 

The definition is relatively simple. A roadmap is a plan for any kind of strategies or goals that are graphically represented along a time axis.

Innovation Roadmaps in particular support strategic planning in innovation management. Depending on the purpose and application, a roadmap may contain the following elements:

  • Trends
  • Markets
  • Technologies
  • Search fields
  • Products
  • Projects
  • Measures such as e.g. Marketing, Competence Building ...

The usual planning period is between three and ten years, depending on the industry and company specifics. For example, a pharmaceutical company will plan for a longer period than an electronics company whose environment is fast-moving and is subject to significantly shorter product life cycles.



Example of a Lead roadmap

What are the advantages of roadmaps in innovation management?

Roadmaps are particularly popular in innovation, R & D and technology management. Here they are excellently suited to developing and mapping the strategic goals.

Clearly arranged: The planning of innovation targets is longer-term than operative planning in other areas. Therefore the presentation with roadmaps is very clear and offers a good orientation.

Networked: Innovations are very networked, for example individual trends, technologies and projects play closely together, which can be represented graphically in the best way with roadmaps.

Attractive: Strategic innovation goals must appeal to everyone, which is why the graphic representation with a roadmap is perfect for this. This makes it easy to communicate the relevant topics to everyone involved.

Pionieering: The innovation roadmap is thus at the heart of innovation management because it combines the innovation strategy with the operational activities and is therefore the basis of all innovation activities. The innovation roadmap offers strategic orientation and focus in the search for ideas, selection of ideas and project evaluation and forms the basis for operational planning of goals at company, department and employee level.

How is an innovation roadmap completed?

1. Orientation

The starting point for the road mapping process is the company and the innovation strategy, which are the guard rails. They provide guidance in the analysis and identification of future topics. For example, it defines which innovation types - whether products, processes, services or business models - are targeted.

Another point that needs to be clearly defined is what the roadmap is intended to achieve. This is crucial,

  • Which topics are already relevant to the search, and
  • How the roadmap looks at the end.
Questions that need to be answered are, for example: what areas would you want to cover (e.g., marketing, technology ...), what would you like to represent and control (e.g., trends), how long is the planning period, etc.

2. Analysis

Intensive research and analysis identify potentials in the form of opportunities, risks, trends, etc. possible sources and tools are:

  • Staff workshops
  • Creativity tools
  • Expert interviews
  • Market analyzes
  • Customer and lead user workshops
  • Market tractability analyzes
  • Analysis of the past (innovation tribe tree) and product life cycles
  • Analysis of trends with scenario technology, Delphi studies or trend studies
  • Core competence analyzes
  • Competition and substitution analyzes
  • Patent analyzes
  • Technologie scouting
  • Big Data

A lot of information will also be available from the development of the company and innovation strategy. For example, there will already be market aptitude analyzes from the spring of strategic marketing, which can be used to identify topics.

3. Search fields

The findings from the analyzes can be summarized, among other things, in a SWOT analysis, from which search fields can be derived. Search fields are future topics that form a context within which you want to innovate. They are the core of the innovation roadmap.

The search fields found are still subject to a valuation, on the basis of which a prioritization can be made. Possible criteria are

  • Portability relevance
  • Strategic fit
  • Jeopardy
  • Resources and development
  • market attractiveness

4. Roadmap

In the last step, the search fields are selected, clustered and plotted on the time axis based on the rating. The roadmap is now ready.

One of the challenges is the graphic processing to ensure that all essential information is presented in a clear and useful manner. An innovation road map, which is only readable when plotted on A0, will cause little problems in distribution and communication.

The creation of a roadmap must be done with the utmost care. True to the motto "garbage in - garbage out", poorly created innovation roadmap leads to a poor-quality innovation output.

How is an innovation roadmap brought to life?

With a map alone, you are not yet at your destination, but you have taken a big step because you now know the way. So it is also with the innovation roadmap, it is actually only the beginning of the innovation journey.

The roadmap is the basis of operational activities in innovation management. It does not matter, however, to use it only once, but it is a continuous tool. All innovation activities are to be reflected and controlled with a view to the innovation roadmap.

For innovation practice, this means:

  • The innovation roadmap controls the search for and the development of ideas.
  • All ideas are evaluated on the basis of the Innovation Roadmap and their strategic contribution.
  • The entire innovation project portfolio is also regularly evaluated on the basis of the innovation roadmap.

In order for the innovation roadmap to work in practice, it requires a change process. The roadmap must be known and accepted throughout the company to work in practice. This starts with the top management, which, for example, takes the innovation roadmap seriously in the case of project decisions and takes as a basis.

Acceptance can be achieved in which the innovation roadmap is always present. For example, you can start every innovation meeting with the roadmap or the roadmap can be part of any innovation presentation.

An innovation roadmap is not set in stone, but must be a living tool. Just as the environment and the underlying conditions can change turbulently, the innovation roadmap must also be adaptable. That requires that:

  • The innovation roadmap itself is continually reflected on and adapted to be up to date. For example, timelines can be adapted or topics that have lost priority can be eliminated.
  • The search for new topics to pop up and be included in the roadmap continues.
Innovation roadmapping is therefore a continuous control process that requires a high degree of attention. Because an innovation roadmap is the basis of all innovation activities.

Conclusion: Creation of an innovation roadmap

An innovation roadmap is an important control tool in the innovation process. It is like a navigation device that connects the planned destination and the way to it. An innovation roadmap has many advantages, such as clear focus, orientation for all, attractive presentation and effective communication for all.

The main success factors are the following

  • A professional creation where all the topics scanned at the radar,
  • Acceptance and "life" throughout the company and
  • That roadmapping is not a final product but a control process.



Tanja Eschberger-Friedl

With her clear and focused way of working, Tanja supports you with strategic innovation management and the successful development of product, process, and market innovations. Tanja always keeps an eye on the essentials. Holistic solutions are her aim. She applies her specialist knowledge as a scrum master and agility coach to achieve this.

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