A visual planning technique which aims at building a big-picture view of a complex subject, starting with the long-term need, and working backwards to map all the possible ways to respond to that need.
The very flexible nature of roadmapping means that no two roadmaps will be the same, though they will generally share similar components such as long and short term needs, change drivers, internal and external constraints, and performance targets.
Roadmapping is particularly useful when a company (or an industry) is facing rapid technological change, disruptive competition, and cross-industry partnerships, as it helps visualise the objective alongside all the critical factors that may influence the end result, and allows for more effective, business aligned decision-making.
See also: technology roadmap
related articles: planisware enterprise demo: the case for using roadmaps, a primer for integrated roadmapping: an interview with ken huskins