Your strawman is your first draft of your product roadmap, which will serve as the basis for your stakeholder discussions. Learn how to build a strong and realistic strawman.
- Finally, it's time to build the first version of your product roadmap. I call this version a strawman because it's just a rough first draft, and it's likely to change a bit before it gets approved by the team. It's a good idea to produce a strawman before meeting with your team, because you're more likely to have a productive discussion when you start with something concrete for people to react to. Your first step is to roughly sequence your milestones in terms of their value in supporting your product strategy. Go through them one at a time and remind yourself of the rationale for each one and prioritize them.
Your next step is to schedule these milestones into your roadmap. You can start with the most basic approach to scheduling. Look at your first, highest priority milestone. Use the effort estimate provided by your product development leader, as well as the development capacity of the team, to figure out when on the calendar you could expect it to be delivered. For instance, if the milestone requires 20 developer weeks and your team has five developer weeks of capacity for new feature development every week, then you can assume for now that the milestone will be released in four weeks, assuming the team can get started now.
Next, you pick up the second highest priority milestone and assuming that the first one is completed on time, schedule that one in the same manner. When you're done, it should look like this. Now there is another approach to roadmap scheduling. You can instead look at time periods out into the future, like the next four quarters or the next six months. In this case, you identify a set of high-priority milestones that can be completed together in the first time period and a set of lower priority milestones for the second time period, and so on.
And when you're done, it might look like this. In each case, you need to be mindful of the total development capacity of your team in each time period, of course. This approach has the advantage that it sets less precise expectations about the exact delivery date of each milestone, which can be a good thing, because the scope estimates are approximate anyway. In larger product development organizations, you'll probably have multiple development teams working in parallel. If the teams are organized around distinct products or customers, like publisher tools and advertiser tools, you'd probably have separate milestones for each of them, and should schedule them separately.
You can then draw them on your roadmap diagram like this. Add separate rows of releases set on the same horizontal time axis one above the other. Scheduling becomes more challenging if the teams are organized functionally, so that each team owns different system components, like a front-end team and back-end team. If this is the case, you need to figure out the capacity and effort required of each team separately. You'll also need to schedule the milestones in such a way that each of the teams will have enough capacity to complete each of the milestones in the time period you schedule it for.
Once you're done and have a completed schedule, take a step back and run a sanity check on your strawman from a few perspectives. First, ask yourself if it implements your product strategy. Try to make adjustments so the impact on the product strategy is maximized. Ask yourself, is it feasible from a development resource perspective? Run it by your development leader again, and make any adjustments they deem necessary. If the answers to these questions are yes, then you've got a strawman, and are ready to share it with your team.
This course shows how to build a product roadmap for your business—and gain critical stakeholder buy-in. See examples of what roadmaps might look like, and spend time learning the tools and techniques necessary to map the projects for your specific organization. Instructors Teg Grenager and Eldad Persky help you create strong, dynamic roadmaps that will ensure your team is working on the right projects at the right time.
- What is a product roadmap?
- Roadmaps in agile organizations
- Selecting stakeholders
- Researching customers
- Identifying milestones
- Estimating effort
- Maintaining the roadmap