As more companies embrace Agile development and build Agile teams, the Agile roadmap has become a critical communication tool. In addition, the Agile project management approach has become popular because many product managers believe they can use it to deliver value faster.
However, even the best product development approach breaks down when communication is lacking. Agile product roadmaps can help keep development teams and stakeholders aligned on the product vision and the company’s long-term objectives.
This post will explain what Agile roadmaps are, the benefits they provide organizations, and some tips your organization can use to build an effective Agile product roadmap.
Defining Agile Roadmaps
An Agile roadmap is a flexible action plan establishing a long-term overview of the product strategy and vision. Some people confuse the product roadmap with the product backlog. However, the product roadmap is not used to plan individual project tasks and finer project details.
Agile product roadmaps show product goals, initiatives, and the product’s expected evolution. A product roadmap ensures that your organization invests time and resources in the most impactful areas.
If you are already familiar with Agile development, you might be wondering if the process of road mapping is incompatible with the incremental development philosophy of Agile. Some Agile teams may resist building a product roadmap because they believe committing to a firm plan or timeline is antithetical to the Agile approach.
However, all teams, even Agile teams, need schedules and delivery dates, even if these dates are flexible and provide a delivery window. Agile product roadmaps help guide the team and measure progress. They don’t have to limit or inhibit the Agile development process.
There are two types of Agile product roadmaps, time-based and progress-based.
Time-based product roadmaps detail how a project will evolve over a certain period. The period could be weeks, months, quarters, or years. However, with Agile teams, time-based roadmaps will typically focus on smaller periods.
Time-based product roadmaps can be valuable for stakeholders and customers. These roadmaps enable them to set release expectations and get a general timeline without getting bogged down in the daily details.
Progress-based product roadmaps take the form of a to-do list and are often represented through a Kanban board. Tasks follow a basic path from to-do to in-progress to completed. The focus of progress-based roadmaps is on completing critical tasks instead of following a timeline.
Agile teams might be more receptive to progress-based roadmaps because they are less focused on timelines and more focused on vital tasks. However, it is important to remember that agile product roadmaps are not set in stone. There is room for flexibility, and the product roadmap should and can evolve based on learnings.
The Benefits of Agile Roadmaps
There are several benefits of having an Agile product roadmap during the software development process. Here are a few of the key benefits your organization should take note of:
- High-level overview for stakeholders
- Establishing long-term strategy
- Give developers context for daily tasks
- Establish importance
High-Level Overview for Stakeholders
Key stakeholders typically don’t need detailed breakdowns of daily development tasks and operations. Instead, a product roadmap is useful for stakeholders because it gives them a broad project overview.
Agile roadmaps keep stakeholders in the loop and enable them to communicate with each other and the development team about the direction and objectives of the project at hand. In addition, stakeholders with no or little technical knowledge will be able to understand the overview a roadmap provides without getting bogged down in the technical details.
A product roadmap keeps the development team and organization aligned as the project progresses.
Establishing Long-Term Strategy
Just because Agile development is completed in short sprints emphasizing iteration and evolution does not mean there are no long-term goals or strategies. However, establishing a clear goal or strategy is critical to the success of Agile development.
Agile product roadmaps help keep development teams focused on long-term objectives while iterating. In addition, they help Agile teams stay flexible while working towards larger objectives.
Establishing a clear long-term strategy and product vision is vital, so Agile developers have an objective to iterate towards.
Give Developers Context for Daily Tasks
A product roadmap gives development teams context for their daily tasks. Inquisitive team members are great for an organization. But, when it comes to Agile development, you want developers to innovate, iterate, and evolve. So, questioning motives, importance, etc., is important in Agile development.
Agile roadmaps help answer team members’ questions and put daily tasks in the full context of the organization’s objectives and long-term strategy. People tend to work better when they understand their work’s context and value.
Agile product roadmaps can give your developers and other team members the context and confidence that their tasks are vital to the success of the project and the organization.
Why is the project important for the organization? Why is the project important for your organization’s customers? Agile product roadmaps help your team answer these important questions.
If you can’t answer these questions with the product roadmap created for the project, it might be time to consider a different approach altogether. Agile roadmaps should establish the importance of the project not only from the organization’s perspective but also from the target customer.
Building an Effective Agile Product Roadmap
If your organization is interested in building an effective product roadmap, here are some tips that you will find helpful:
- Clearly define your product vision – What value will be delivered to customers? What are the organization’s key objectives and main priorities?
- Define KPIs – What metrics are indicators of success?
- Gather cross-functional feedback – It is critical to get the input of every team that will contribute to the product’s success.
- Utilize customer feedback – To successfully iterate, you need to involve customer feedback. Feedback can be gathered from surveys, interviews, etc.
Developing a product roadmap is important in all development projects, especially when using the Agile approach. If you want to learn more about Agile product roadmaps and how they can benefit your development team, reach out to a skilled app development partner.