An agile product roadmap is an effective tool for describing how a product is expected to expand, aligning stakeholders, and for obtaining funding for the product’s development. But developing a useful roadmap is challenging, especially in an agile environment where changes come up quickly and without warning. This post of universal agile offers ten helpful suggestions to aid in the development of a workable agile product roadmap.
1. Focus on objectives and results.
You should use a goal-oriented agile product roadmap, sometimes also referred to as an outcome-based roadmap, whenever you are dealing with an agile, dynamic environment, whether it be because your product is undergoing significant change or because the market is dynamic with new competitors or technologies introducing change.
Such a roadmap focuses on the objectives, advantages, or results of the product, such as gaining users, boosting engagement, and paying off technological debt. Features may still be present, but they should be carefully derived from the goals and utilized. As a general guideline, I like to advise using no more than three to five features per goal.
2. Do the Required Preparation Work
Take note of and confirm the product strategy before you start to develop your plan. I like to think of the roadmap as an executable product plan that explains how the strategy is put into practice and the strategy as the path chosen to realize your vision. To put it another way, I like to start with the strategy and build from there.
A successful strategy should outline the value proposition of the product, the target market, standout features, and business objectives. Make sure you have completed the necessary product discovery and validation work so that you can confidently state these. Otherwise, you run the risk of producing an agile product roadmap that is neither practical nor implementable.
3. Recollect a Coherent Story
The projected expansion of your product should be depicted in your product plan. As long as your product has not attained maturity, each goal should build on the one before it. Consider the following two suggestions to create the ideal roadmap narrative: First, segment the product strategy’s user, consumer, and business goals into concrete, quantifiable subgoals. The subgoals should then be arranged logically to make a tale.
The objective of the first, initial release (MVP) may be to create a user community if, for instance, I wanted to market a healthy eating product that assisted middle-aged men in lowering their chance of getting type-2 diabetes.
The second release’s objective could be to boost engagement, while the third release’s objective could be to produce income. Second, avoid the temptation to amend the product plan to appease influential stakeholders or broker a deal.
4. Keep things simple
Be careful not to over-inform your product roadmap. Keep your path clear and uncomplicated. By concentrating on the goals, you may capture what matters most and ignore everything else. Keep the features in your roadmap vague and derived from the objectives.
Epics and user stories should remain in the product backlog rather than being displayed on the product roadmap. Use the product backlog as a comprehensive plan that makes it easier to execute, and the product roadmap as a strategic one.
5. Secure Strong Buy-ins
Even the most excellent product roadmap is useless if the necessary individuals do not support it when it comes to product development, marketing, and sales. Collaboration with the main stakeholders and their inclusion in the development and revision of the product roadmap is a wonderful strategy to reach a consensus.
By fostering a sense of mutual understanding, you can make use of their knowledge and ideas, and you increase the likelihood that the plan will be backed by the population. To get everyone involved and develop a shared product roadmap, organize a collaborative road mapping session.
However, make sure you ask a qualified facilitator—like your Scrum Master certification—to lead the session. This entails selecting the appropriate decision-making process, such as consent, and making sure that everyone is heard and no one dominates.
6. Be Courageous Enough to Say “No”
The major stakeholders should support the product strategy, but you shouldn’t make the error of agreeing to every suggestion and demand. Your product would become a feature soup—a random mix of features—as a result. “Saying yes to every request does not constitute innovation. According to Steve Jobs, it’s about rejecting all features save for the most essential ones. To make the best choices, use your vision and product strategy.
However, take the time to properly consider the stakeholder’s request before stating why it cannot be put into the product plan. Attempt to comprehend the person’s fundamental desire or motive by showing a sincere interest in what they have to say.
7. Knowing When to Display Dates
Dates on product roadmaps have long been a contentious issue among some product professionals. I advise using dates or time frames on an internal roadmap to coordinate the work done by the development team and internal stakeholders like marketing, sales, and support.
This enables you to weigh the importance of shipping on time versus completing a task. Additionally, it clarifies things for the development teams and stakeholders, assisting them in their work.
8. Make sure your plan is measurable.
Every target should be detailed and measurable when adopting a goal-oriented roadmap so you can determine whether you’ve achieved it or not. Determine how much of the bad code needs to be removed or rewritten if your goal is to reduce technical debt, for instance, or how many new customers should be acquired if your goal is to increase customer acquisition.
It will be difficult to determine whether you have achieved your goal if you don’t specify a target. However, make sure that your roadmap’s objectives are reachable and that you set a realistic target.
9. Decide on Cost Top-Down
I advise you to estimate the development cost top-down rather than bottom-up whenever your product goes through a considerable degree of change and innovation. It is essentially impossible to effectively predict the velocity and rate of change in the product backlog, generate the appropriate epics and user stories from the roadmap features, and receive accurate estimations from your team.
Even if you succeed, you will have an excessively large and complicated product backlog that is challenging to modify and maintain. Additionally, it may take days or even weeks to translate the features into clear requirements and precise estimates.
10. Review and Update the Roadmap Frequently
Not least: Change is likely to happen if the setting you’re in is agile. So, depending on how new your product is and how dynamic the market is, you should regularly review and update your product roadmap—every four weeks to every three months, for example.
Although you should follow your agile product roadmap and make sure that your team as a whole adheres to the plans and deadlines, you must also be adaptable enough to adjust your strategies as you go.
Keep in mind that changes will inevitably occur in an agile environment.
When developing an agile roadmap, you must always be very adaptable for any unforeseen changes that may occur and deal with them to ensure the success of the product.