From Vision to Reality: Secrets to Building Winning Roadmaps for Business

In Uncategorized by Roger Lewis

Full article with thanks to:

Developing a roadmap is a key skill for a tech leader or product manager. These dynamic, visual plans detail the scope of both individual projects and tech team initiatives, and they unify stakeholders around a common vision that’s highlighted by essential tasks, goals and priorities.

While there are a number of roadmapping strategies and techniques, they’re guidelines, and every tech leader and project manager must chart their own course when it comes to developing a roadmapping philosophy and method(s). Below, 20 members of Forbes Technology Council discuss some effective, industry-current roadmapping practices and their experience working with them, as well as some unique strategies they’ve developed on their own.

1. Avoid 10-Year Roadmaps

We live in VUCA (vulnerable, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) and constantly changing times, so 10-year roadmaps are no longer prudent or realistic. One of the best ways to create a roadmap is by thinking of the goal as the summit of a mountain and planning every step, starting from base camp and proceeding on to the next camp. This ensures agility instead of the fixed path favoured in traditional methods. – Arungalai Anbarasu, Waygate Technologies – a Baker Hughes Business

2. Embrace The Kano Model

The Kano model takes a structured approach to prioritising features based on customer needs, allowing teams to focus on functionalities that will delight users. By identifying basic needs, performance requirements and excitement factors, product managers can make informed decisions to gain a competitive edge. Embrace this model for remarkable product experiences and long-term customer satisfaction. – Rick Kelly, Fuel Cycle

3. Determine The Scope

One key technique is determining the scope of the roadmap. For example, roadmaps that include generative artificial intelligence and/or machine learning work can have three scopes: product, discipline and specialty. Identify which use case or minimum viable product is best for your objective. Once the discipline is created (with a solid AI strategy), the next step is to clearly establish the productisation of the roadmap. – Azmath Pasha, Metawave Digital

4. Clearly Define ‘Now,’ ‘Next’ And ‘Later’ Plans

Product managers need to balance the roadmap with business-as-usual operational tasks. In other words, you need to both deliver small feature improvements (and keep the lights on) and complete strategic pieces of work that create the unique value proposition of the organisation. A roadmap that clearly defines “now,” “next” and “later” plans helps the team generate continuous value as well as plan for big strategic differentiators. – Simana Paul, SumUp

5. Make Sure The Roadmap Provides Value For Everyone

One tip is to make sure roadmaps are valuable for everyone. Since the industry moves so fast, particularly in the world of edge computing, roadmaps need to have “themes” or top-level goals in addition to features. This way, executive and sales teams can easily digest it, and the dev teams get what they need for execution. If requirements change, the themes stay, but the features can flex. – Bruce Kornfeld, StorMagic

6. Build With The End State In Mind

If you are designing a product, focus on its purpose and usability. If the design carries challenges in terms of configuration or operational issues, it becomes useless. In my experience, conducting real-time testing and including independent analysis is always beneficial. Both provide better insight into whether a product meets consumers’ needs. – Dewayne Hart, SEMAIS

7. Strike A Balance Between Flexibility And Predictability

For a successful roadmap, striking the right balance between flexibility and predictability is key. The T-shirt sizing estimation technique empowers teams to evaluate features comparatively and establish essential reference points for forthcoming tasks, fostering collaboration among tech and non-tech team members. An accurate initial estimation builds a solid foundation for future change management. – Kseniia Maiboroda, Elevatix

8. Leverage OKRs

One highly effective roadmapping technique is to develop objectives and key results. It works well because it aligns product goals with measurable outcomes, fosters transparency and enables continuous improvement, driving focus and accountability for new product managers and their teams. – Shelli Brunswick, Space Foundation

9. Consider Where Users Will Be When The Product Is Ready

To quote hockey great Wayne Gretzky, skate “to where the puck is going, not where it’s been.” If you’re designing for a user group, remember that in the months or years it takes to produce your product, that user group will age and change, technologies will change and the market will change. Optimally, you are designing for where your users will be when your product is ready. – Patti MikulaHackworks Inc.

10. Try Gap Mapping

The gap mapping strategy involves identifying the current product state, defining the desired future state and focusing the roadmap on bridging this gap through incremental steps. This method encourages flexible planning and iterative problem solving and consistently maintains sight of the end goal, ensuring product development aligns with the future vision. – Andres Zunino, ZirconTech

11. Gamify The Experience

Gamified roadmapping is a technique where product managers use gamification principles to engage and motivate cross-functional teams. By turning the roadmap into a game-like experience, you help teams become more invested in achieving milestones and delivering features, resulting in higher productivity and a sense of accomplishment. – Jagadish Gokavarapu, Wissen Infotech

12. Get Feedback From Other Stakeholders

Observability is essential. New product managers might not understand the value of putting the roadmap in front of stakeholders across the business to gather feedback. This can be uncomfortable, and there will be times when your team wants to prioritise things differently. This is good! The most important thing you can do as a product leader is to gather data from everywhere to make well-informed decisions. – Lewis Wynne-Jones, ThinkData Works

13. Understand The ‘Three Levers’

Understand the levers that truly affect your plan. You only have so many levers you can pull to build a roadmap properly, and the three key areas are scope, cost and time. Understanding how each of these levers affects your roadmap is key to delivering a successful plan of action over time. With these three levers in mind, you have the ability to build flexibility into your roadmap. – Gregory Todd, DXC Technology

14. Go Over The Roadmap Backward And Forward

My suggestion is simple but has helped me a number of times: Work your roadmap forward and backward, multiple times. Intricacies and problems don’t always show themselves at first glance. This is especially useful when reviewing manufacturing processes and bills of materials. Many times, bundling, packaging and shipping issues quickly come to the surface when you’re looking from a different perspective. – Robert Martin, Oil City Iron Works, Inc.

15. Take An Outcome-Driven Approach

Product managers should start applying an outcome-driven roadmapping approach where the product development process is aligned with specific and measurable derivatives instead of a group of features. By doing so, managers can easily address customers’ needs and pain points, be more agile and focus on creating value for both the product and the organisation. – Dhari AlAbdulhadi, Ubuy

16. Visualise Through User Story Mapping

User story mapping is a great technique that helps the project manager, the team and the client. It’s a visual technique that helps stakeholders understand the user journey and prioritize features. It breaks down user needs into smaller stories, creating a clear roadmap for development. This helps align development efforts with user needs and ensures a user-centric approach, leading to a more successful product. – Sheraz Ahmed, STORM Partners

17. Focus On Jobs To Be Done

A highly effective roadmapping technique for new product managers is the “jobs to be done” framework. It focuses on understanding the underlying customer needs and motivations rather than specific features. By identifying the core jobs customers want to accomplish, product managers can create solutions that align closely with user goals, resulting in more successful and customer-centric products. – Farhan MasoodSoloinsight Inc.

18. Foster Clarity Through The MoSCoW Method

The MoSCoW method, which prioritises product features into “Must have,” “Should have,” “Could have” and “Won’t have” categories, is crucial for new product managers. It fosters stakeholder buy-in through transparency and clear prioritisation. Additionally, it allows for flexible change management by easily adjusting priorities based on changing business needs. – Daniel Knauf, Material+

19. Assign RICE Scores

RICE—which stands for “reach, impact, confidence, effort”—is a powerful roadmapping technique. Assigning scores based on these four criteria helps you prioritise tasks quantitatively. “Reach” assesses the total user base affected, while “impact” measures business goals or user experience impact. This approach fosters better decision-making and resource allocation, ensuring the most impactful and feasible features are developed first. – Gaurav Aggarwal, Avanade Inc.

20. Don’t Forget To Include Testing

Test your technology and projects! At defined milestones in your roadmap, make sure you test your product with the relevant stakeholders (or testers who resemble them as closely as possible). Testing your tech from front end to back end to APIs allows you to catch bugs, adopt recommended improvements and learn how users could interact with your product.

Full article with thanks to:

Did you enjoy that? Why not share this article.

We specialise in supporting change across the insurance sector, helping insurance businesses (and other businesses like distribution and logistics) adapt seamlessly.

Our services include Change & TransformationM&A IntegrationBusiness Process Management and Executive Coaching. We help make organisational change and technology change much easier.

Got a question about our services? Get in touch and leave a message

The header image in this article was created by ar130405 from Pixabay, and free to use under the Pixabay Licence.