A roadmap is a document that’s responsive to change, and communicative with the rest of your organisation. Roadmapping is a continual, evolutionary activity and so you can never really claim to have ‘ticked it off’. But even such an ever-changing tool as your roadmap has to start somewhere. Whether you’re creating your first roadmap for a new product, or restarting afresh on an existing one, there’s a time and a place for big, visual thinking as well as incremental changes.

For any of these major roadmapping moments we suggest bringing the management team together for a roadmapping session. Getting support from the start will give you the freedom to deliver on a realistic roadmap without internal obstacles.

This exercise can be either conducted with a ProdPad roadmap and projector, or a white-board, Index cards, and a selection of different coloured pens.

Step 1: Prepare your meeting

Either create a new roadmap in ProdPad, or divide your whiteboard into three columns – Current, Near-term and Future. On either in-tool roadmap cards or physical index cards, write out a handful of initiatives and projects to get the ball rolling. This doesn’t have to be perfect or comprehensive, but enough to get a discussion started.

Step 2: Define scope and set the order

With your team in the room, discuss each of the roadmap cards you’ve prepared in turn, adding new initiatives as they come up. Remember that this should be high-level – you don’t need to agree on (or even discuss) solutions and features at this stage. Your aim is to place each card into current, near-term and future priority. If your team needs greater clarity on these priorities, add rough time brackets such as 1-3 months, 3-9 months and 18+ months. You will most likely move from Current initiatives which are being worked on today, through to Near-term when Current is full, and finally Future for all ideas which are leftover but add value to the product vision.

In placing cards visually on the roadmap you can resolve disagreements over priority in real-time. This is highly likely to occur for the current column – but as this fills up, simply ask your team what they would be prepared to move to make room.

Step 3: Balance and add context

Once you’ve agreed on the relative order of your roadmap cards, identify strategic initiatives and product areas to make sure that you have a balanced approach to tackling the product vision. Use colour coding to represent different strategy areas tackled by each project (e.g. blue for ‘Revenue’, green for ‘User Growth;). Follow up with tags or mini sticky notes to denote the different product areas or components that will be affected. Stand back and take a look at how realistic this looks in terms of meeting your complete vision, and resourcing.

You now have a solid basis for a roadmap that everyone in your team should be able to get behind as this evolves. The big vision exercise shouldn’t be called upon for every change to your roadmap however. Instead, keep up the spirit of collaboration through transparency and regular communication.

How can ProdPad help?

ProdPad allows you to easily maintain roadmaps from single products, to product lines, to your entire portfolio. Roadmap cards can be organised using a drag and drop interface and set to public or private, ready for export to PNG or PDF to be shared with your boss or customers. Your roadmaps can be continually evolved and kept fresh with the input of your entire team – thanks to in-line comments – while product managers can control what’s prioritized or pushed into development systems. Using ProdPad, roadmaps can finally act as a living tool that pulls together strategic direction and day-to-day product management. Learn more in our Help Center!

This exercise was taken from the ProdPad Handy Guide for Product People. Sign up for a free trial and request your own copy for plenty more tips and tricks for great product management.

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