Just before the start of the year, Bicore has moved into a new office overlooking Eindhoven Airport. This triggered a lot of debate about the name of our Portfolio Management solution, FLIGHTMAP, again. This name was selected because it illustrates that a plan is needed to guide an organization to its goals (strategic objectives), but also flexibility is needed during the Flightmap. The analytics to support the right decisions require complex models (e.g. weather models), but easy-to-interpret cockpits.
Linking Roadmaps and Portfolio Management
It has been part of the FLIGHTMAP vision all along that strong linkages exist between portfolio management and roadmapping (mainly used as a technology and product long-term planning technique). The roadmap view has a strong forward looking focus, and highlights timelines and dependencies. In this sense, it is complementary to other analysis views, such as budget, funnel, benefits, and balance charts. In a recent German Roadmap meeting in Stuttgart (link), Prof. Robert Phaal from Cambridge University confirmed the power of integrated roadmapping, linking in portfolio management tools. He confirmed this will be a major next step in maturirity of portfolio management, during 2018 and beyond.
Essentially, the roadmap visualization is a view that shows the relevant project and product activity (lifecycles) as parallel horizontal bars, against a suitable time horizon (typically 2-5 years, to prevent short-termism). Major dependencies as well as trigger events are shown as annotations at the appropriate location in this view. The typical presentation has several swim lanes, including one for technology developments and one for product developments (see e.g. this view from Wikipedia). The process of building roadmaps jointly is seen as highly valuable for communication. However, the typical tool support (from sticky labels to drawing tools) that allow free format roadmapping also get in the way of turning them actionable and keeping them up-to-date.
New FLIGHTMAP functionality
In joint development with three of our leading customers, we have been working on the next generation of roadmapping in our FLIGHTMAP platform, so we will be ready to support integrated roadmapping in 2018.
In line with all inputs, the three main use cases for roadmapping in the portfolio management process are:
- align research, development and technology planning (in terms of maturity and capability status and expected progress) with product and business case planning;
- analyse the impact of delays, speed ups, and risks in technology developments on the overall portfolio, and discuss robustness improvement;
- timing feasibility of addressing gaps in the portfolio, such as timeliness for new market entry, or for next generation products to replace end-of-life business.
Together with the proper color coding based on status and conflicts, the roadmap view of the underlying portfolio data will trigger the proper discussions. As always, the value of these techniques comes from supporting the right discussion and leading to better decisions.
The power of having a single source of truth for the roadmap data and the other portfolio management use cases has been nicely framed by one of our three lead user organizations: “the full line of sight from technology to business has enriched our portfolio management process more than any individual indicator or project detail, especially now wthat we can trust the underlying data to be consistent with project plans, budgets, and market intelligence”.
Let me know if you see these use cases as well, or if you have additional uses for roadmapping as a visualization technique.