Due to the pressure of work or inexperience, plenty of project managers focus all their efforts on the short-term, not seeing the wood from the trees and just lurching from one small crisis to the next. This may well be fine so long as it gets the job done in the end you might say, but is it fine? How would one know what success is if there aren’t longer term goals? If you don’t know where you’re trying to reach how will you know when you get there?
For this reason, having a long-term roadmap is a critical tool that should be in every organization and project manager’s toolbox. If you’re wondering what a long-term roadmap should like here’s a brief overview of what it contains:
- Vision (Where the organization or project wants to be)
- Goals (A breakdown of what needs that place will look like)
- Perspectives (How success will look from different sectors)
- Strategies (The methodologies that will be used)
- Actions (Individual tasks that need to be completed)
- Milestones (How you will recognize you are on the right path)
- Risks (The roadblocks that might get in your way)
The Advantages of Having a Roadmap
So, what do all those tasks actually mean and how will they help you get towards where you want to be? Well, taking the roadmap from the start you can easily understand the advantages it provides:
- Having a vision statement should sum up what you actually want to achieve in one or two sentences. If you can’t do that then you should probably spend some time getting a clear picture of what you do actually want.
- The individual goals you need to achieve your vision are the main objectives you want to reach. This will add color and detail to the image you have of the success you are looking for.
- Each department and area of an organization will have a different view on what success is, by factoring these into your long-term roadmap you will have a more holistic picture of how things look from different angles.
- There are dozens of practices, formulas and ways of going about things in project management. Focusing your attention on what will be used and where physically saves time and mentally reduces stress from having to weigh things up for every action.
- The various tasks that need to be performed to make sure you reach your goals and realize your vision will be many and probably quite mundane but having them laid before you will make them visible and seem achievable.
- There are certain points along every journey where you can stop, take stock and be satisfied that everything is going according to plan. Laying out these milestones beforehand makes them easier to aim for and reach.
- There is no journey without danger of varying levels. In your case it will most likely be risks in the form of roadblocks, delays and missed targets which could derail you from your project path. The better idea you have of them, the more successful you will be at negotiating them.
It’s Better for Stakeholders, Too
As well as joining together the various aspects of a project’s planning and execution, having a project plan align with a long-term roadmap also provides the opportunity to get input and buy-in from different departments, superiors and stakeholders. The opinions and expertise of others will help to hone the roadmap into a consistent and effective document that can serve both as a touchstone for inspiring action as well as a reference guide at decision-making time.
By carefully creating and executing your roadmap, you can ensure that all the decisions and actions taken are moving towards the higher goal that you actually want to achieve. It can serve as a single project plan or as the guiding light for several projects at once, depending on the time scale of the roadmap, but in all endeavors that you undertake in the professional world, having a roadmap and knowing where you’re going is the only way you’ll be able to understand and reach your destination.