Anonymous Career Advice

Should Every Team Have A Roadmap?

This week’s anonymous career advice is a good question asking should every team have their own roadmap?

This is an important question around being transparent, collaborating and being a collective in changing and adapting how you work for the success of the company.

Q: Dear focus, should every team actually have a roadmap?
And should we connect to the company roadmap?

This is a great question! 

I talk about this topic a lot and the process of creating a roadmap for most teams is something I am a fan of.
Anything that actually moves teams away from a finger in the air Gantt Charts is a step in the right direction and takes a list of work and turns it into more deliberate work. 

In the recent strategy articles, I suggested in WTF is strategy and why strategy is often misunderstood for tactics, strategy is the overarching plan of action for the whole company to get behind and work inside of.
Strategy is the important guide for your company, adding in the successful boundary lines. Roadmaps are the same.

Like strategy, a roadmap has to be clearly defined and understood, there should be no misunderstanding of what a roadmap is and is not, what it includes and why these important items are included.

Like strategy, the activity of planning and reviewing is about what you are not going to do and why these handful of items made the cut onto the roadmap. 

Typical product roadmaps need improving but helping to guide new teams will be essential to helping your business to succeed

Roadmaps have had a bumpy few years, this is down to a lot of change in technology, Product leads have been allowed to use roadmaps politically (this, unfortunately, is a part of Product PQ) and the challenge of predicting deadlines is challenging. 

Product leads often misalign companies around “their roadmap”, when in truth what makes the product roadmap is a tiny percentage of what happens within businesses and very few build their work around the Product roadmap.  

Creating a roadmap means: 

  • Deliberate – Knowing deliberate thought has gone into the process 
  • Intention Signal – There is going to be action 
  • Accountabilty – There is going accountability for what is going to work, when it is going to be delivered and what metrics it will move 
  • Transparency – one single way of creating your action plans is going to help connect teams around goals and objectives 
  • Alignment – Roadmaps allow everyone to understand what’s going to happen on a set time frame and how to feed in as individuals and if it does not your roadmaps are not prepared correctly. 

Ideal Roadmap Creation 

Each company will work in different sprints, realistically fortnightly sprints and breakdowns are the best way of identifying deliveries 

Why fortnightly not weekly or monthly? 

Weekly is difficult to break down into actionable chunks especially when some teams and development sprints cannot work in weekly sprints and monthly is too much of a gap. 

A company wide roadmap will help your business being more transparent and more effective

The owner of the roadmap?

If you have a trusted Project Manager or a Product lead with a growth mindset, these will help guide and coach those around them, with a bias toward making them useful and actionable.

One Roadmap Or Many?

The next question many will have to answer is, should there be one centralised roadmap or should there be a few roadmaps.

I believe there should be both, a master roadmap that guides the whole company that is not overloaded with activities but with important projects and business lines are deliberate in adding in their core activities and milestones, connecting with other departments on how they will need to work together. 

If any deadlines change or move, this is where communication and updating roadmaps are essential, when hybrid you will need to truly embrace and adopt asynchronous communication and you should not wait for a management meeting or large get together to ensure discussion around this. 

Something to consider if you are not convinced:

  • Many finance teams will not breakdown what they are doing and what their outputs are, this is as much by design by being provided with a method to show what they have on. 
  • HR can often feel like the hire and fire team as there is very rarely transparency in the projects they have on, this is an opportunity to be more transparent
  • Sales are often loud about their numbers and their targets but rarely break down what and when they are going to be doing away from seasonal activities. 

I would recommend every department has the opportunity to create their own roadmaps, these should be presented and fit into a centralised roadmap, a visual often beats out a long document and ensuring these projects connect cross-functionally.  

Good luck with your roadmap sessions and bringing everyone together for quarterly or annual planning, Q4 would be a perfect time to have a test run.


Danny Denhard

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