Do you have a product roadmap?

Last updated by Nick Curran [SSW] 3 months ago.See history

A Product Backlog is a great way to see the fairly small broken up Product Backlog Items (PBIs) that make up your team's "to do" list, but it can be a bit too zoomed in and makes it easy to stray from the Product Goal.

To get a better zoomed out view, you should have a product roadmap.

Video: Do you have a product roadmap?

You can think of it as a list of milestones to reach a goal.

Here's a simple example about going on a trip to Beijing

  1. ✅ Visit the Great Wall of China
  2. ✅ Visit the Forbidden City
  3. ⬜ Visit the Summer Palace
  4. ⬜ Visit a popular street food area
  5. ⬜ Leave for Sydney on 25th of September

Here you can see that the goal was to visit various attractions in Beijing and each attraction is a milestone to be reached before returning home to Sydney.

For software development, you simply replace the milestones with ✨features, 🐛fixes, etc.

Having this zoomed out view helps the team to stay focused on the overall goal of the project and the long term priorities. It also prevents the team from getting side-tracked on issues that are not really what the business wants.

Building the product roadmap

It's important to think about the scope of the product when building the product roadmap so that the milestones are an achievable grouping of tasks. Consider the size of your team:

  • For small teams that shift to different products a lot, you might want to make the milestones a bit more granular and short term.
  • For larger product oriented teams, it is more important to have a general overview of what is going to happen across a longer timeframe.

By factoring in the size of the team, it keeps everyone accountable while remaining realistic.

Ways to track a roadmap

There are heaps of tools out there you can use to make a product roadmap including:

These tools have a lot of functionality and use differing complicated terminology like Features, Epics or MMFs (Minimum Marketable Features). So, they can be an intimidating first step into product roadmaps.

At their core, product roadmaps are simply a list of critical milestones to tick off as they are completed. So, as a stepping stone, you can store them in your project wiki.

The project wiki makes the concept much easier to understand and implement. Once the team is comfortable with the idea, move on to more complex tools.

Ideally, you want to make some progress on product roadmap items in every Sprint, so make sure to review your product roadmap during your regular Sprint Reviews.

Figure: Good example - A small team might have something like the SophieBot product roadmap

See: SophieBot product roadmap

Figure: Good example - A large team might have something like the Microsoft365 product roadmap

See: Microsoft365 product roadmap

Figure: Good example - GitHub maintains their product roadmap using GitHub Projects and GitHub Issues

See: GitHub product roadmap

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