How to create an innovation roadmap
Innovation management is more than just standard project management. From idea development to successful innovation, there are numerous obstacles to overcome. The innovation process is characterized by a high degree of uncertainty. An innovation roadmap helps to manage these uncertainties.
Instead of a rigid project plan with fixed tasks and responsibilities, clear milestones are defined. The road to these milestones can change. This approach is comparable to agile project management, where goals are defined. How these goals are achieved lies in the responsibility of teams.
The benefits of having an Innovation Roadmap
The establishment of an innovation roadmap has clear advantages for companies and innovation teams:
The often long and confusing process from the first idea to successful implementation is broken down into manageable and controllable small steps.
If certain measures on the way to the next milestone do not work or prove to be impracticable, innovation teams can change the course of action at any time. The measures change, the goals remain.
Through teamwork and collaboration, new findings can quickly and easily be addressed. For example, if a prototype is rejected by potential customers, it is revised and a new prototype is tested.
Companies that rely on an innovation roadmap instead of rigid project plans in innovation management are more agile in the implementation phase and the quality of innovations increases.
Failure – for example, a technical development or an acceptance test with customers – is not regarded as a failure, but as a necessary part to deliver the best possible result at the next defined milestone.
Characteristic elements of an innovation roadmap
A sophisticated innovation roadmap follows a simple principle: develop, test, optimize. Innovations go through the following stages:
- MVP (Minimum Viable Product)
- the development of the finished solution
In each stage, new insights for the development of the innovation are being generated.
The first step is to answer important questions that are relevant for implementation: How large is the market potential? How risky is it? What steps and possible obstacles are expected during implementation?
The prototype shows how the logic behind an innovation works and what the result could look like. For digital innovations, for example, a prototype consists of a so-called “click dummy” that shows how a new website or software works and what logic it follows. For technical products, a prototype can be created from a 3D print model. And for an internal process improvement, a prototype is, for example, a temporary test within a team with several selected members.
Minimum Viable Product
This milestone in an innovation roadmap is often defined for digital innovations: Instead of launching a product into the market with all its features and functions, it is initially launched with a few selected functions. With the Minimum Viable Product, companies can see how customers react to the different functions and how the product is accepted.
This can also be divided into different steps. For example “Introduction to test market”, “Evaluation of results”, “Expansion to other markets” etc.
Although an innovation roadmap has clear goals and intermediate goals, it is not always possible to standardize the procedure one hundred percent. The Innolytics® idea management software and innovation management software offer the possibility to define the essential milestones of an innovation roadmap and to set them for teams.
This existing structure makes it easier for innovation teams to focus on the next milestone. At the same time, the software allows the roadmap to be adapted. If a company’s innovation management believes it makes sense for teams to adapt roadmaps, this can be approved. The corresponding settings can be made in the platform administration.
Setting up an innovation roadmap in the Innolytics® software is easy
In the Innolytics® software’s so-called “process manager” you can configure the innovation process according to your needs.
The “Roadmap” menu item is located in the Process Manager. Here you can specify which elements you would like to include in the roadmap.
Enter for example:
- Completion of the concept,
- Presentation to the management,
- Development of prototype,
- Prototype test,
- Revision of the prototype,
- Presentation of results to the management
You can determine whether innovation teams can deviate from the defined roadmap or not. The template for an Innovation Roadmap has been created.
In the next step, you determine in which phase of your innovation process the roadmap should be active. Already in the first phase of idea submission? Or only later, when it enters the concept development phase or even the implementation phase? If you use different methods of innovation management (e.g. CIP, idea management, open innovation, etc.), you can define different innovation roadmaps for different methods.
You may be driving different innovation projects with different logic at the same time. For example, the development of a new product, a digital business model and the development of a joint business model with a partner company. All three projects require a different logic for milestone planning. The Innolytics® software allows you to define an individual innovation roadmap for each project, which takes into account the particularities of these projects.