At Decision Driven® Solutions, we see roadmaps (technology, product, platform, strategy, etc.) as the time-evolution of a set of decisions. Each decision is a stable, fundamental issue that demands a solution. Although the issue (question) is stable, the data that informs the decision changes over time.
The most commonly-used roadmap illustrates the evolution of solutions and identifies when a new alternative (technology, product release, or business model) will create value for the organization. But if you want to perform Gap Analysis you need to go a level deeper and forecast the evolution of:
- Criteria: Stakeholders’ quantification or clarification of the level of performance expected for key parameters that they value. Customers and end users are relentless; they want continuous improvement in the products that they use (X today, 2X next year). Competitors are equally relentless; to preserve market share you have to at least match their performance enhancements and cost reductions. It’s better to raise the bar on your roadmap and proactively work to fill the gap rather than respond when your customers start to vote with their feet.
- Alternative Performance: Roadmapping isn’t about certainty concerning the forecasts of future; it’s about using what we can predict today to influence our decisions and increase our probability of success. By estimating the level of performance that may be achieved by your next product release or a new technology or market, you raise the bar in your organization and set in motion the behaviors that may fill future gaps.
Here’s a sample of a product roadmap that illustrates the asynchronous evolution of criteria, alternative and performance “states”. It shows step-function increases in the minimum acceptable level of various criteria (aka Threshold value) and compares the level of performance forecast for various alternatives. This highlights both time-alignment and performance alignment gaps that must be filled to preserve market share in the face of competition, regulation and the rising tide of customer expectations.
See if you can identify the challenges faced by this company in filling these future gaps. What must or could be done to clear the bar?