How to Build a Project Roadmap for Your Next Software Build

Project managers are responsible for building the strategy and timeline to develop and release new features and products. A clear project roadmap helps bring software concepts to life with purpose and solid direction. However, not all project roadmaps are built the same. By developing a project roadmap fortified with a DevOps strategy project managers can best lead their team through a success build. To begin your project roadmap ensure you follow some key initial steps.

First, you need to pinpoint why you are building the application. Next, you must identify who will use the roadmap to make decisions. Then you can develop the major themes of your project. As you develop the roadmap, you’ll need to ensure that you can adjust it as needed.

Your product roadmap is a high-level visual summary outlining your vision and the direction of your software build as the project progresses. With it, you can streamline mission-critical tasks, empower developers to control their working environment and maintain full awareness of team members’ progress.

A project roadmap allows you to ensure collaboration, eliminate bottlenecks and produce exceptional deliverables. It is both a way to keep the current team on track and broadcast to executives or other stakeholders what is being delivered and when. Here are steps you can take to make a wholistic and actionable product roadmap.

Start With The “Why”

Before you build your project roadmap, you should establish why you’re developing the application. If you don’t have a clear answer backed by data, you can’t justify the project.

Without a clear purpose for building the application, you’ll have no way to present stakeholders with solid reasoning for pursuing your initiative. More importantly, however, the “why” for building an application will inform all decisions moving forward. Use the “why” to create a high-level project overview. This should be a succinct and concise statement that explains the goals, objectives and priorities of each initiative.            

Identify the Stakeholders

It’s essential that you identify the audiences for your roadmap. Different stakeholders need different information.

For example, marketing executives and lead developers have different responsibilities. Therefore, they’ll need different information to do their respective jobs.

Also, you’ll have different objectives when presenting the roadmap to various stakeholders. You’ll need an easy way to revise your roadmap for the right audience.

Build the Themes

The major themes of the project are the first thing that you will commit to writing. Just as you justify the “why” of your software, you’ll need to have a clear reason for each theme.

For each theme, create a flexible roadmap swim lane. ProductPlan VP of Marketing, Andre Theus, explains that a project roadmap should always start at the strategic level and work your way down to every detail. Your product was conceptualized to solve a problem so every theme should take that same approach. Ask why that theme should deserve a place on the roadmap and its relationship to other themes.

Recommended external article: Building Your First Product Roadmap from Scratch | from ProductPlan

Scope A Timeline

Another important component of the roadmap is setting the timeline of the overall project and smaller steps. When building a timeline, it may be helpful to start with key milestones. Create an expected deadline for each of the key milestones in an order that makes sense for the build. When doing this, make sure to consult any out-of-office calendars or holidays to ensure you don’t get behind due to known slow times.

Use these milestone dates to create a schedule overview that outlines the general timeline of the entire project. It may be hard to pinpoint the entire project to a specific date, but you should have a general idea of when the project will be complete so you can communicate this to your team and to management.

Take into consideration any tools that the team has at its disposal that will speed up delivery at nay given phase of the project. For example, a software development team may have access to low-code development tools that allow them to exponentially speed up coding.

Responsiveness Is Essential

Corporate priorities, resources and competitive influences can change quickly. As the project progresses, you’ll need to adjust to circumstances.

You’ll need the ability to update your product roadmap quickly and easily so that you can present timely information to stakeholders. Develop your roadmap so that you can make changes to scope, budget or timelines and course corrections as the project unfolds.

Leveraging DevOps for Roadmap Flexibility

By developing your roadmap using DevOps practices, you can support enterprise-wide cohesion and collaboration. More importantly, your team will deliver high-quality solutions faster to your internal team or to a client. Soliant Consulting’s Director of Marketing, Allison Arthur, explains how important documentation is to the success of any project. Without this documentation knowledge transfer is almost impossible as turnover inevitably occurs or as team members change job titles. The key to any DevOps initiative is to establish a documentation method and keeping team members trained on how to use it.

Your roadmap will help you maintain consistency between the workflows of your operations and development teams. Even better, your organization will spend less time troubleshooting and more time innovating.

DevOps strategy is not something that you deploy for a one-off project. Successful DevOps deployment requires organization-wide cultural adjustment and acceptance. It’s an ongoing commitment to a new corporate culture.

Matt Shealy

Matt Shealy

Matt Shealy is the President of ChamberofCommerce.com. Chamber specializes in helping small businesses grow their business on the web while facilitating the connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

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