Strategy roadmaps are clunky. Everyone knows it, and worse off, everyone still uses the same old tools for the most part. Excel, maybe MS Project (if you’re a huge company). Everyone else suffers through a Google Document or a bad version of a gantt chart.
Sure, there are solutions, but they’re mostly for specific industries like graphic design wireframes, or writer tools. If you’ve studied strategic planning in business school or you practice it in your C level position, you know that there are many methods to use. SWOT, Five Forces, Mind Maps, Balanced Scorecard and many more work well on the approach. The problem with strategic planning is that it often stays just that, a strategy.
The effective C level executives know how to execute. So when I met someone who’s created something based on this exact gap in the software tool industry, I got excited. Vasiliy Ivanov’ background isn’t in strategic planning at all, he’s mostly known for his VPN product, but he’s created a project specifically because of the lack of strategic planning tools in the market.
And there’s nothing I love hearing about more, than projects that people have created out of a challenge. I procured some very interesting secret weapons from the conversation too.
Clayton: Why did you start Roadmap Planner?
Vasiliy: I used to plan the company strategy in Excel and Google spreadsheets when we were only 5 VPN enthusiasts. As we grew and developed more products, I realized we needed a tool to help easily visualize the plan for strategic development. I wanted to involve key contributors in the process and be able to present the roadmap clearly to our employees. When I couldn’t find a product that met those basic needs, I decided to develop one.
Clayton: Have any of the C level strategic planning methods worked well for you?
Vasiliy: It’s not methods are successful for us, it’s following the philosophy of our company. We encourage everyone to think about the value of the final product, not the profit. We want to create the solutions for business users that will let them focus on their goals without complicated logic.
Clayton: What’s your background? Management? Technical?
Vasiliy: My background is technical. I have a Master’s Degree in Computer Science and over 12-years experience in creating software products for desktop, mobile, and web platforms.
Clayton: Did you always work for yourself?
Vasiliy: No. I started my career as a software engineer. Before KeepSolid, I had three other startups. Each of these startup attempts helped me to develop and learn. That experience makes me who I am today.
Clayton: Do you have any formal business training?
Vasiliy: I don’t. I have had to study tons of technical and administrations books, as well as literature on interpersonal relationships in business. I have also learned a lot from talented people in the research field to get a complete picture of market needs and how to solve them.
Clayton: What’s the 1 thing you can’t live without?
Vasiliy: I can’t live without goals. Life turns into pastime without them. I want to make a difference for humanity.
Clayton: What makes executing strategy so difficult?
Vasiliy: Unclear goals and bad monitoring produce mediocre results. You should set a scope of high-level work to precede each target and tie it to a date. I’m not talking about tactics, I’m talking about actionable items only.
Clayton: What is one main thing readers can do to stay more productive?
Vasiliy: They should stay away from unproductive people.
Clayton: Where do you see this productivity app niche going in the future?
Vasiliy: This niche in the market doesn’t have a shape yet. A lot of executives talk about strategy, but don’t understand what it means or what tools they need to execute it.
Clayton: What other tools do you think work well in this niche?
Vasiliy: Task and project management tools work well for any level employee. Strategic planning tools are typically used by leadership in the business. The same way executives collaborate with the employees in real life, they should collaborate within strategic tools the company uses. This will help to automate a lot of technical and administrative processes, and executives will be able to spend more time on high level work.
After talking with Vasiliy and working with a number of tools in the niche, I realize that there is a learning curve the market will need to grow through to really reap the benefits of strategic tools and methods alike. But once that level of skill is achieved, we’ll start to see projects get completed faster, quality of products and service go up and career advancement be a much easier feat.
This post is part of our contributor series. It is written and published independently of TNW.
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