In innovation, strategic goals are devised to achieve success. With these objectives in mind, businesses have to identify what actions are necessary to achieve them over time.

That includes planning and communicating every step of the innovation process to employees, stakeholders, and other relevant parties in the organization.

In effect, companies get to execute all the necessary changes, concepts, business models, products, and services that add value to the customers or to the company itself in a seamless and orderly manner.

But the question is — how can innovation teams best create it? Furthermore, how can they use this tool in aligning, simplifying, and accelerating innovation projects?

In this article, you will learn what an innovation roadmap is, why it’s necessary to use it, and what steps can you take to create it.

Let’s start!

What is an innovation roadmap?

An innovation roadmap is a tool that visually illustrates how an organization can achieve its strategic goals upon executing the innovation process.

It serves as an overview of the steps that institutions need to take in implementing certain changes, products, concepts, services, and business models that can add value to either the organization or its customers.

Innovation Maturity Level 3: Managed

An innovation roadmap also allows innovation teams to determine how, when, and what actions to communicate to executives and other relevant stakeholders in the business.

Considering how this roadmap is easy to understand, using it helps companies define and convey all the steps included in the innovation process, particularly the objectives and results that they wish to achieve in executing it.

As such, the graphical nature of this tool enables employees to understand the entire innovation process easily — making them identify and digest every measure necessary in achieving specific results that are useful in dominating an ever-changing business environment.

Why use an innovation roadmap?

Roadmaps, in general, are useful in generating the results that an organization wishes to achieve in a specific area by incorporating the right mix of ideas, markets, environments, competitors, and customers.

With roadmaps, companies are able to make informed decisions that are aligned with their strategic objectives. In essence, this allows them to analyze and obtain outcomes that can help them create better concepts and processes in the future.

Specifically, roadmaps are ideal in:

Planning your innovation success

In business, “a goal without a plan is just a wish.” Planning how to successfully attain objectives involves the creation of steps and relevant benchmarks for measuring success. In roadmaps, major steps are outlined and milestones are indicated in reaching them.

Besides serving as an organizational tool, a roadmap allows you to communicate your strategic thinking — the hows and the whys behind the realization of certain innovation initiatives. In the end, it tells a comprehensive story of distinct details that your innovations will have in the future.

Making strategic decisions

When an innovation project is conceived, organizations need to carry out a preliminary analysis or validation on its costs, strategic fit, potential value, and expected duration. This way, potential innovations are plotted in time, size, and priority.

However, what comes next determines the fate of the innovation project — and that is to regulate whether the project is to be killed, executed, or paused for further improvements.

With innovation roadmaps, projects are systematically discussed and elaborated with inputs from both internal and external stakeholders. Hence, decisions are made with thorough consideration and perspectives from experts and other knowledgeable entities.

Aligning different departments

Now that decisions are derived from different panel discourses, other departments in the company can follow suit. Roadmaps can be used to widely expound on their roles and significance in every phase of the innovation process.

As a result, the overall portfolio of every department reflects the innovation goals of the company — an event that will most likely lead to the accumulation of support and appropriate resources from pertinent groups, increasing the probability of innovation success.

What are the benefits of an innovation roadmap?

Using an innovation roadmap brings four important benefits:

1. Impartial evaluation of new developments

Innovation roadmaps make it easier for businesses to objectively assess the success of their current developments in relation to the ones that they’ve implemented in the past. It provides an overview of whether or not the innovation has led to progress, particularly higher proceeds.

In addition, using innovation roadmaps can explicitly determine whether innovation initiatives have yielded expected returns, primarily because the tool integrates innovation history with relevant trends in a specific period.

Meaning, with innovation roadmaps,  innovation rates, and quotas can be identified to determine whether innovation developments have contributed to the overall progress of the company.

2. Realizing innovation opportunities from a customer’s perspective

To avoid wasting time, energy, and other related resources, businesses need to create innovation activities that respond to either the customers’ or the organization’s existing problems.

In creating innovation roadmaps, different phases of the innovation cycle are reflected — and in effect, outcome expectations or hitting criteria are devised as problems are expressed as tasks, where innovations can come as a customer’s preferred solutions in addressing an issue.

Thus, innovation opportunities are recognized, and initiatives are elucidated to validate existing tasks and obtain direct feedback.

3. Discovery of new ideas

An innovation roadmap contains extensive information regarding the problem domain, so organizations can dedicate their resources to generating multiple solutions via brainstorming sessions and other idea facilitation techniques for the purpose of documenting expertise.

Provided that the innovation team is diverse, varied experiences may mean fluid deliberations and collaborative argumentations between innovation participants. Hence, additional research is recommended for an in-depth review and assessment regarding the viability of their ideas.

4. Blueprinting prototypes

Because innovation roadmaps include the innovation cycle, prototypes are designed and simulated through experiments while gathering relative data at the same time.

On another note, precedence on failing fast during minuscule trial runs is highlighted for a cheaper and faster way of understanding what works and what doesn’t. Control and reaction plans are formulated to prepare for various consequences.

Now, assumptions are eliminated, and refined ideas are ready for back-end designs and profound iteration.

How to Make an Innovation Roadmap

Below are the three steps in making an innovation roadmap:

Step 1: Define the goals and elements of the innovation roadmap

Prior to the development of the innovation roadmap, its purpose and recipients must first be characterized to establish focus and content. For instance, if you are making an innovation roadmap for your team, what trends and industries do you want to focus on?

Provided that these considerations are addressed, identify the following details:

  • Innovation components like required technologies, trends, and activities
  • Specific time frame
  • Tasks and responsibilities

These particular facets impact other aspects of the innovation roadmap.

Step 2: Figure out and examine essential issues

Creating innovation roadmaps involve numerous reviews, investigations, and analysis. Meaning, crucial information is required to build the premise of the innovation approach, where significant future subjects are distinguished and assessed thoroughly. 

As such, some supplementary tools and processes can help, like:

  • Investigating trends and other existing market patterns
  • Examining core competencies
  • Performing SWOT analysis
  • Conducting panel interviews
  • Creating statistical surveys and other market analyses

Results from performing the activities mentioned above are expected to identify the themes that may play a significant role in the company’s innovation efforts in the years to come.

Step 3: Establish boundaries in coordination with the management

With the topics determined in the second step, emphasize given boundaries and acknowledge other innovation requirements like deadlines, priorities, and other essential elements for making the innovation successful.

Furthermore, see to it that the contents of the innovation roadmap are supported by the management. Ensure that pertinent parties are on board with the project as this is vital in securing innovation success.

Lastly, here are some reminders to keep your innovation roadmap functional:

  • Stick with a solid and professional color palette. The innovation roadmap’s overall aesthetic has a great impact on how your audience will receive it. Make it simple yet understandable.
  • Discuss it with every participating stakeholder and employee for your innovation roadmap to gain acceptance, backing, and support. Communicate intensively with the innovation team.
  • Incorporate it with innovation management. Make it your foundation in developing ideas and innovation activities in the company. Use it too to assess and evaluate concepts and proposals in terms of strategic relevance.
  • Make sure that your innovation roadmap also corresponds with your innovation portfolio.
  • Monitor your innovation roadmap regularly and determine whether written objectives are achieved periodically. In case of deviations, prepare appropriate measures and perform them.
  • Make it a habit to review your innovation roadmap so you can assess whether some of the company’s activities require modification, particularly the target outcomes.
  • Trends come and go, too, so you might want to change or delete some topics that might affect the impact of your innovation activities.

Realize Your Innovation Roadmap

An innovation roadmap is a tool that illustrates how an organization can achieve its strategic goals upon executing the innovation process.

It serves as an overview of the steps that institutions need to take in implementing certain changes, products, concepts, services, and business models that can add value to either the organization or its customers.

The innovation roadmap is vital in managing innovation as it backs the creation and execution of innovation strategies. It keeps employees and stakeholders in one direction, and it increases innovation success.

The benefits of an innovation roadmap include impartial evaluation of new developments, realizing innovation opportunities from a customer’s perspective, the discovery of new ideas, and blueprinting prototypes.

Now, if you’re looking for a way to realize your innovation roadmap, Accept Mission can help you plan your roadmap. You can use charts like Gantt and Business Impact to get a clear overview of your innovation process.

Learn more about the Accept Mission Innovation Software by going on a feature tour.