Interpreting roadmaps

Yesterday I explained the difference between a roadmap and a project plan; both display bars on a timeline, but the meaning of the bars is radically different.

Roadmaps display the time-availability and evolution of the alternatives for a set of decisions; the roadmap bar represents the “good-for” period in the life of an alternative during which it creates value.  Most roadmaps apply a color scheme to roadmap bars to communicate additional information concerning either the organization’s commitment to the alternative or its implementation status or risk.  The most common roadmap color scheme uses green-yellow-red bars to represent a blend of commitment level and implementation.  Green implies an alternative that the organization is fully committed to implement AND has a fully staffed implementation effort so that the deployment of the alternative is either already complete or nearly assured in the time-frame shown.  A yellow bar signifies an alternative with limited commitment to implementation; it is lacking some needed resources so that it might not be available by the date shown on the roadmap (the start of the bar).  A red bar either means that the alternative is not yet resourced at all or that it has hit a serious snag, a roadblock that demands significant attention.

There are really 2 status “attributes” associated with alternatives.  The first is the level of preference, commitment or decideness that you ascribe to the alternative.  The second is its implementation status/risk.  These 2 attributes may track together, but not always.  When you combine 2 relatively independent attributes together into one metric, you lose some information and create unnecessary ambiguity.  To avoid this, I’ve kept the 2 attributes separate within the Decision Driven® Solutions Framework (DDSF).

Preference (aka commitment level, decidedness) with values:

  • Committed
  • Current favorite
  • Worth considering
  • Considered, but rejected
  • Just an idea

Implementation Status with values:

  • On track
  • Complete
  • At risk
  • Uncommitted
  • Blocked
  • Not planned

Preference is most useful before a decision is made to communicate the current state of your thinking.  Implementation status is most useful after the decision is made and you are tracking decision execution.

I’ve given users the option of displaying the roadmap “colored” by either attribute so they can share with others “Here’s what we’re thinking” or “Here’s how we’re doing“.

There are many ways to use these color-coded roadmaps to gain or maintain strategic alignment between technologies, capabilities, products and market strategies.  More on this in future posts …

You have the opportunity of experiencing for yourself the power of the Decision Driven® Roadmap tool within the Decision Driven® Solutions Framework (DDSF). Don’t wait! Please contact the Decision Driven® Solutions team at or

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