Ever feel you know where your products and projects are heading but your team is not on the same page?
I know the feeling.
You need to communicate your vision in a way that is simple for them to understand.
The best way to do this is using a roadmap.
What is a roadmap?
A roadmap is a visual tool which lets you bridge the gap between your shorter term plans and the overall goals and milestones that your organization is working towards.
Most times, project and development teams understand what needs to happen over the next weeks or months.
But understanding how this ties into the organizations bigger picture can sometimes be difficult to see.
Here’s the thing.
A roadmap lays out the long term goals or milestones your organization wants to hit and the activities or steps required to make it happen.
Roadmaps are an invaluable tool whatever type of project you run.
They started out being used mainly in agile, IT, product development and R&D projects but now organizations of all types, shapes and sizes use them to communicate and share their vision.
Let’s dig a little deeper.
Here is an example roadmap in Kelloo. The roadmap is split into lanes, in this instance a lane is shown for the Kelloo Release and the CRM Project.
Within each lane the work and initiatives required to deliver on the portfolio goals and milestones is displayed. High level markers and notes have also been added to provide further context and information.
What are the benefits of using a roadmap?
Roadmaps are used to connect strategy and vision with implementation. They are used to communicate priorities and key milestones without getting into too much detail.
Here are some of the benefits of using a roadmap:
- Can be used to get executives, teams and stakeholders on the same page.
- Ensures product and project teams clearly understand what they are working towards.
- Communicate expectations, priorities and schedules in a way that any audience can understand.
- Provides a vision of what needs to happen and when without getting into unnecessary detail.
What types of roadmaps are there?
The biggest benefit of the roadmap is the strategic vision it communicates.
The roadmap combines product and organization goals with lower level project activities to ensure everyone is on the same page. Here are some examples of roadmaps you could build.
1. Product roadmap for agile projects and teams
If you are running agile projects and teams, your roadmap could be used to communicate the key events on your projects.
So this could include things like when your sprints start and end, which teams are working on them and how the sprints align with things like product release dates.
2. Roadmap for product teams and product owners
For product teams and product owners, your roadmap may be organized to show when the different projects that deliver your products are happening.
Things like stage gates and review checkpoints may be added to provide richer information.
3. Portfolio roadmap
Portfolios of projects have many moving parts and a roadmap helps to understand the relationships and dependencies that bind it together.
Projects don’t exist in isolation and the portfolio roadmap helps executives make linkages between projects, products and the overall goals of the organization.
4. Roadmap for leadership and executive teams
Leadership and executive teams need to see the big picture to understand what projects are driving towards their organization goals.
So a roadmap for this group can be used to communicate high level information to help them understand when things like new products are being delivered to market or key strategic goals are being met.
5. Marketing roadmap
Marketing teams can use roadmaps to communicate what they want to accomplish and the steps they are taking to get there.
An example could be an organization launching a new product and the marketing team needs to coordinate marketing initiatives based on deliverables from teams such as IT and sales.
How to build a roadmap?
Here are some of the steps and things to consider when building a product roadmap.
1. Understand your organizations goals and strategy
Start by setting the vision and goals for your product and how they will support overall organizational objectives.
This could include analyzing things like:
- What problems you are trying to solve?
- What do you need to do to your product to add value for customers?
You are trying to identity the “big ticket” items that you want to achieve over the coming year or so.
2. Assign broad timelines to your initiatives
Start laying out the initiatives (the work and projects) that will help you meet your goals. You will not be able to do everything at once so consider what priorities you have. Also consider if there are any factors driving when things need to happen – for example a trade show you need to attend to show off your new product.
Another factor to consider is the capacity of your organization. You need to ensure you are not working on too many things at the same time. Juggling too many balls at the same time inevitably means you will drop a few. Focusing on fewer things often means you get more done quicker.
3. Create a roadmap your audience can understand
Ensure you don’t provide too much or too little detail on the roadmap. Consider the audience. Are they an executive team who just need to see when big milestones are happening or are they a product team who need to step down a level and understand a little more context about timings.
4. Paint a picture - ensure your roadmap has visual appeal
The key thing about roadmaps is that they are visual tools for communicating a vision. So use color, icons, notes and comments. Anything that helps you get the message across.
Using roadmaps in Kelloo
In Kelloo you get project and product roadmaps that are tightly integrated with our portfolio management and resource management solution.
The Kelloo roadmap sources data from the projects and resources planned in Kelloo and roadmap data you directly enter.
In the example below, the sprints and project work (red arrows) are coming from the schedule in the Kelloo planner while the notes and other roadmap information has been entered direct into the roadmap (blue arrows).