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  • Sven Schimpf
    Dr.
    Sven Schimpf

    R&D Management

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    Fraunhofer IAO
    Nobelstraße 12
    70569 Stuttgart, Germany

    • Phone +49 711 970-2457
Fahrplan zum Unternehmenserfolg © selensergen – iStock/Fraunhofer IAO

Case study investigates the strategic use of roadmaps within companies

In cooperation with TIM Consulting, Fraunhofer IAO conducted an online survey from July to September 2015 on the use, challenges and success factors of roadmaps in everyday company operations. An excerpt of its key findings is given in a publicly available infographic.

Roadmaps are an important tool for company planning. Particularly in the areas of technology, product and strategy planning, they enable companies to integrate complex interrelationships in a clearly structured fashion. To find out more about the use, challenges and success factors of roadmaps, Fraunhofer IAO partnered with TIM Consulting to conduct a survey of companies in a wide variety of sectors, including mechanical and systems engineering, automobile production, and service and equipment vendors.

Primary uses are in the strategic planning of products and technologies

The study revealed that companies use roadmaps primarily for their strategic planning, technology planning and R&D planning activities. In terms of subject matter, the chief focus is on products, technologies as well as strategic options and objectives. Half of the companies surveyed use this planning and strategy tool to cover timeframes of less than five years, and only a small fraction create roadmaps for topics that extend over ten years into the future.

The infographic entitled “A Roadmapping Case Study” shows that the processes for updating and communicating roadmap information are most often defined in a structured manner within companies. Responsibility for consolidation lies primarily with product management, technology and innovation management, or executive management. The most important information sources for companies are market analyses and customers. In half of all cases, information on topics covered by roadmaps was derived from observations of the company’s competition. Other important sources of information include research institutions, universities, user feedback and legislation. Supplementary information gathering methods are a must for many companies. Half of those surveyed indicated that they make use of a technology radar. Portfolios and creativity techniques enjoy similar popularity.

Challenges and recommendations for strategic roadmapping

When using roadmaps, many companies are faced with two challenges: furnishing the necessary resources for the design, maintenance and continuous updating of roadmaps; and establishing systematic processes and structures for these activities. Here, it is particularly important to ensure the consistency of the roadmap across planning and enterprise levels, and also along the value chain. Project leader Sven Schimpf stresses the importance of organizational structure: “A mixture of centralized coordination and decentralized accountability for topics appears to be the most promising long-term solution for anchoring roadmaps into the company culture.” Study participants also strongly encourage each company to adopt its own standardized procedure for securing the involvement of employees from different departments.

The detailed results of the study will be presented on the “Roadmapping in Practice” event organized by Fraunhofer IAO, which will take place on April 21, 2016 in Stuttgart. At this event, participants will learn more about the use of roadmaps within companies while also becoming acquainted with industrial case studies and the latest research developments in the field. Moreover, they will have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the role of IT support in the roadmapping process. Parts of this event will be held in English.

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