Roadmapping Your Product Lines

A Profound Value Proposition

Paul O’Connor, NPDP

Product Line Strategizing and Roadmapping is the most powerful of all NPD processes. It drives innovation, it amplifies development portfolios and it leverages  alignment with other non-product development business strategies.  Product line teams are working hard to learn, build capabilities and truly exploit this knowledge process that is absolutely critical to every organization.  Simply stated, the value proposition of Product Line Strategizing and Roadmapping is profound.

Product Line Strategizing and Roadmapping is a sub-process of the Front-end.  It precedes Concept Generation, Feasibility Testing, and Stage-gate development activities (see NPD Processes).  The goal of Product Line Strategizing and Roadmapping is to direct, coordinate and accelerate critical insights and creative thinking on key product line strategy decisions, and to set up an execution plan for proficiently carrying out that strategy.  The reason that it works is because it drives product line teams in being proactive and intelligent toward setting up targets for innovation, for crafting strategic moves against competitors and in optimizing the leverage of underlying product line platforms.

The process is notably more than just requirements management and delineating specifications for the next incremental improvement.  It is also the collective response to market dynamics, the real-time creation of opportunity, and the forward thinking that organizations require for targeting new platform strategies.  The insights and decisions addressed in this powerful process enable organizations to focus and leverage innovations, to align work activities, and to invest resources so as to carry out a more powerful product line strategy.

Decisions Define Strategy.  Smart and Creative Decisions Define Successful Strategy.

The process of Product Line Strategizing and Roadmapping is a combination of workflow, information and decision flow which focuses on articulating where the product line is going, why it is going there, and how it is going to get there.  Indeed, the quality and acuity with which a team carries out the workflow, information flow and decision flow of product line strategizing and roadmapping can make or break a product line strategy.  Scope out this knowledge flow well and a team will create a clear path to true strategic gains from a product line.  Execute the resultant roadmaps well, and teams will realize the gains of good product line strategies.

Product line strategizing and roadmapping always addresses challenges and opportunities related to marketing, technology, portfolio planning, resource throughput planning, product lifecycle management, and competitors’ strategies.  These six topical areas are the knowledge centers from which when teams gather, combined and creatively manipulate knowledge into notable insights needed for both smart strategy formation and real world execution planning.  Good strategizing and roadmapping practices will guide cross-functional teams in applying intelligent, pre-determined methods for information gathering, insight generation and critical decision-making.

Product strategist face the reality that competition, suppliers, customers and underlying technologies will continue to move faster and faster, making it increasingly important for organizations to gain an advantage from a proactive approach to Product Line Strategizing and Roadmapping.  The good news is that several companies and a few key consultants have made enormous headway in nailing down Product Line Roadmapping decisions and activities.  You do not have to invent it on your own.  Indeed, process flows, practices, methods and templates are available to learn and to deploy.

Organizations and their leadership need to declare Product Line Strategizing and Roadmapping to be a priority.  At the same time, Managers, Directors and VP’s must become knowledgeable about and proactively support the development of needed organizational capabilities. Doing so is requisite to improving an organization’s NPD productivity and profitability.

If you wish to learn more about Product Line Strategizing and Roadmapping and the workflow, information flow and decision flow of this process, consider attending our in-depth workshop.  The training provides an insightful look at best-in-class Product Line Strategizing and Roadmapping practices.  Check it out.  The training definitely hits the mark.  WORKSHOP

As always, please do not hesitate to drop me a note with comments or questions.

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