Operational Roadmapping: A Complete Guide
Operational roadmaps, like product roadmaps, are statements of intent that help align your revenue team by acting as a tangible summary of the path to a gap-free customer journey and higher LTV.
Where do your gaps exist? What work needs to be done in order to close them and meet your revenue goals? What impact will that work have on your internal teams and on your customers?
A roadmap is what happens when you really analyze what friction your customers are feeling, and then do something about it.
At Go Nimbly, roadmapping is a core part of the strategy work we do with our customers, and it’s become commonplace in our lexicon. However, we recognize that it might be unfamiliar to operators who haven’t created one.
Here’s our breakdown of why you need an operational roadmap and how we create them for our customers.
So, What is an Operational Roadmap?
A Roadmap is a Statement of Intent.
An operational roadmap is a prioritized statement of intent—a plan. By creating a roadmap and sharing it across your organization, you’re creating certainty and visibility that will lead to better alignment and a more seamless customer experience.
A Roadmap is Alive.
As your company grows and changes happen, items on your roadmap move like chess pieces to accommodate that. You should be having monthly meetings to review your roadmap and make sure that the existing strategy is still what makes the most sense for your business.
A Roadmap is Strategic and Prioritized.
A functional roadmap is strategic, made up of items that will make revenue impact for your business by closing a gap you’ve identified in your customer journey.
That work is then prioritized by the degree of impact each item is expected to have on your business and customers.
A Roadmap is Driving You Towards Something
Your backlog is a pile of things that haven’t been prioritized or planned. Your roadmap, on the other hand, is leading you to a destination.
Whatever your vision is for your organization’s next inflection point, your roadmap is the plan for getting there.
When shared across your organization, it allows everyone to understand the ultimate goal, as well as the steps needed to get there.
How Do You Create an Operational Roadmap?
Analyze your pipeline with the 3VC framework.
Analyzing snapshots of your pipeline every so often is a good way to keep your finger on the pulse of your customers’ experience, allowing you to determine which projects will be most impactful to them.
You can also use those snapshots to look for trends that indicate something is broken and creating funnel leakage.
Compare your revenue metrics (Volume, Velocity, Value, Conversion) from different months/quarters/years using your CRM data and you’ll be able to narrow down spots where the friction might be occuring.
Identify the gaps in your customer journey.
There are a few different ways to find customer-based gaps that exist in your organization. Retroactive gap-identification is what we mentioned in the previous section, where you use the 3VC framework to search your pipeline for trends that highlight gaps.
Proactive gap-identification is done before trends show up in your pipeline, by putting yourself in your customer’s shoes and durability testing your processes. There are many types of durability tests, including GTM ride-alongs, competitive analysis, customer experience mapping, and conversation intelligence.
Durability tests can also be used to validate intuition-based gaps and explore problem spaces to better inform your solutions.
Generate ideas for initiatives to address those gaps
Once you understand where your gaps exist, you can start determining what work needs to happen to address them. This is a good opportunity to collaborate with the rest of your team to brainstorm, mind map, and assess the risks and benefits of different solutions.
Once you’ve decided on your initiatives, prioritize them using impact criteria such as internal business value, revenue impact, timeline for completion, and direct impact on your customers. Be realistic about the level of effort each item will require so you don’t end up overloading your roadmap and setting individuals up for ‘failure.’
Categorize your workstreams by theme.
As you’ll see in the example image below, we’ve created thematic buckets for the workstreams to be sorted into.
Organizing your roadmap by theme reinforces the need for a holistic approach and eliminates the tunnel vision that is likely to occur if you classify work by department. Things like customer experience, team growth, and data stewardship are goals the entire organization can rally around.
Meet regularly to review your roadmap.
Once you’ve built your roadmap, it’s not a set-it-and-forget-it thing. Meet with your RevOps team (or whoever currently owns your roadmap) regularly to gauge your progress and mitigate any risks.
We’ve seen a lot of companies resist the idea of roadmapping because they viewed it as a possible threat to agility. In reality, it will keep your team focused on the important work so that fires happen less frequently and, when they do, you can tackle them as a steady, unified team.
By making roadmapping a part of your company’s shared lexicon and strategy, your teams will be able to support one another’s work with intentionality and common purpose.
Build your roadmap to work for you, to grow and change with you, and it will enable your teams to make nimble, data-based decisions that positively impact both your customers and your revenue.