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How to build an effective roadmap

How to build an effective roadmap

Roadmaps form part of an organisation’s strategic planning process. Therefore, an effective roadmap will align with the goals, objectives, and initiatives that will support the objectives of the organisation. A timeline connected to the roadmap will ensure that stakeholders stay focused.

Let’s focus on how to build an effective roadmap.

Best practices when creating a roadmap

Preparing an effective product roadmap is not easy, but with the right amount of focus, tools, and expertise, you can overcome the challenges involved.

These best practices will help you to overcome most challenges:

  • Include only the relevant details necessary for your audience.
  • Establish the balance between short-term and long-term strategies in the roadmap.
  • Review roadmaps regularly and make changes as and when needed.
  • Make sure all stakeholders have access to the roadmap and check it regularly.
  • Stay connected with stakeholders at all levels and ensure alignment.

Striking the balance in roadmaps

Since customers’ preferences can change and market dynamics can shift, it’s important to ensure the product roadmap reflects the current status of work. Therefore, the roadmap should be updated regularly. It is important to strike a balance between keeping roadmaps updated and ensuring that you don’t lose focus on bringing alignment amongst the stakeholders or executing the product plan.

As the roadmap captures decisions and guidelines about the product, the individuals responsible for the product’s success should ideally own the roadmap. In the Agile context, the product owner owns and manages the product roadmap. The team members and stakeholders contribute to it as and when required.

For example, marketing teams can help to prepare for the most impactful launches and campaigns associated with a product, IT teams can help to improve the overall technical infrastructure of a technical product, and sales teams can better provide customer expectations and insights.

The more inclusive the product owner’s road mapping process, the greater organisational alignment and support they will have at the time of executing the roadmap.

Product roadmap and product backlog

In an Agile environment, the product owner owns and manages two important and distinct product management tools. These are the product roadmap and product backlog. Having the same person in charge of the product roadmap and the product backlog unites the strategic and tactical aspects of product planning and product development. Moreover, it establishes clear authority and responsibility.

In the table, the product roadmap is compared to the product backlog.

Product roadmap Product backlog
Manages the strategic aspects of the product. Manages the development aspects of the product.
Contains the vision, strategies, goals, and metrics. Also indicates how likely a product will evolve. Contains the components necessary to create a product, including epics and user stories, workflows, user-interface designs, and mock-ups.
Creates a definition of purpose; facilitates collaboration; helps to budget; and eases the coordination, development, and launch of multiple products. A tool directing the work of the development team to provide a basis for tracking progress.

Over to you:

Since the product roadmap provides a blueprint for the product backlog, these two tools complement each other.
Integrating the product roadmap and the product backlog offers several benefits. For example, integrating these tools can reduce the time spent on updates, and it connects the vision, strategy, and goals with day-to-day tasks.
What is your experience with a product roadmap and product backlog? Do you have any ideas on how to streamline the process or limit blockers?
Share with your fellow learners your experience in the comment section below.
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