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Product Road Map

by StarAgile

May 20, 2020
Category Agile and Scrum


Don’t get lost!

We think of this word when we travel or when we want to find the direction to a place. In the olden days, we used a map to know where continents, countries, states, rivers are located. We call them the geographical map. They were designed with a particular scale and helped us understand where a place is located. 

Even today this practice continues and we use GPRS to locate places which in turn use the map to show directions. Yes, in literal meaning a roadmap helps to visualize the way to your destination. In a development company, this context of roadmap remains the same. Our destination is to design and deliver a product and for the same, we need to visually summarize the direction keeping the vision in mind. 

Let us explain a product roadmap, what is it, why do you need it, how to make one, and bring success to the organization. This is just not for product owners but for the entire team to understand which will align all thoughts in one frame. 

Product roadmap – What is it? 

Technically understand this very word before we proceed further. You need to build a product as per customer requirements. There needs to be a plan to execute each task in order. You will have to identify the priority feature and arrange the product backlogs. To make life easy we will opt for the product roadmap. Visual representation of what needs to be built, how to build is called a roadmap. 

The following things are kept in mind to build a roadmap effectively. 

  • Company goal and vision. 
  • End-user need 
  • Strategy making 
  • Aligning all to the decision taken
  • Making a document to execute the plan

In one word remember that the product roadmap must communicate the product’s strategic direction. 

Need to make a product roadmap

It is easy to list the importance of roadmap as we know what it is. It is a direction given to the product to be built.

The picture that depicts the vision to all stakeholders makes life easy to interpret. The design is done keeping the product and the company goal in mind. Therefore the benefit offered by this map is enormous from both the business and client perspective. 

Business 

This map will clearly show the status update in each stage and hence assures business about the alignment of the work with the goal. It is quick to interpret and hence avoids any communication gap. 

Customer 

First, it makes the client feel relieved upon seeing this map that the product development will begin matching their expectation. They can see the start and the end as well as the direction in which the work will progress. This will give them confidence in the investment they have made. 

Product owners 

When multiple teams work on developing one product with different modules, this map will represent the managers about the working status. The POs can make necessary changes based on the other team's WIP. 

Team 

It is very important to the teams that work hands-on to understand their role. With the help of the pictorial representation of the map, they will be able to put in the right efforts. They also can become more productive. 

Overall, it will set the priority of the work and thus saves time and money for all the stakeholders. 

How to design a foolproof roadmap

While we know the importance of the map, it is equally important to know how to make them correctly. The direction provided on the map will help the entire team to travel on the right path. Thus the map plays a larger role to take development to success. Learn how to design the roadmap correctly by following these simple steps. 

1. Know the company goals. Understand the customer need. Decide on the team based on the SWOT analysis. Find the time available and required to complete the process. Identify the cost analysis as well before you start. The key is to understand everything for kick-starting in the right direction. You can do this only by talking to all stakeholders and documenting things in detail. Take time to this step which will provide success and prevent rework. 

2. Start the actual work. Fetch the features and prioritize them based on all the above-mentioned points. Use a prioritization matrix to rank the features. This will help you know the priority of the features rightly which will allow you to create the product backlog. 

3. When a product backlog is set, it is easy to validate them finally before you announce it to the team. Discuss with the customer and business and then take this to the release map. Yes, there are two stages namely product roadmap and release roadmap. The former will make the company succeed in its initiative and the latter will provide direction and time to be expected for the product release. 

4. In the end, keep your roadmap flexible. Do not impose hard timelines but make sure the time frame is decided. Call for a meeting with the team and keep updating the map based on the actual movement of the work. 

Remember there are many routes to the destination and hence you need to act smartly to choose the right path as and when required.  

Best practices that make the best roadmap

Always make sure your roadmap should contain the theme, epic, story, and feature. Build them in that order to have a larger picture. Start from the top which will provide rooms for additions and corrections. Do not narrow down by starting from features. The theme will provide the structure for every feature. Therefore begin from the theme and go down to the feature. 

  • Do not overcrowd the map with all details. Keep it simple and retain only what is required to tell the team. Making it complicated will only create a negative impression and hence follow the tactics of presenting it small and build it big. 
  • A review is a must. However, the roadmap is not a bible forever. It has to change based on development. It is a dictionary that needs the addition of new words and tasks promptly. 
  • Allow all to reach the map. Let it be accessible. This will empower the team to take a look at the map to know if they are sailing in the right direction. 
  • Initiate discussion with team, business, customer, and stakeholders to make sure that the progression is in line with the expectation. 
  • Prepare the map in such a way it is presentable and catchy. Yes, visual representation does the magic. Let it be clear and not crowded with details. 
  • Every map should have an owner. One person must own the map to discuss, revert, and provide suggestions. 

Do you want a make a product roadmap and lead your team to success?

Join certified scrum product owner training and master the tactics to create the best roadmap. You can learn hands-on about what is it, how to make one and also when should you make along with how to make. These techniques will let you own the map you created and can handle any situation as a product owner.