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3 reasons why Product Owners should be using an Agile product roadmap to organize their software projects better

3 reasons why Product Owners should be using an Agile product roadmap to organize their software projects better

Product Owners have a lot on their plate, trying to keep stakeholders and internal teams aligned whilst making sure that milestones and objectives are met. And when talking about enterprise software, things often get lost in translation.

Using a goal-oriented Agile product roadmap helps Product Owners visualize their product strategy and keep everyone on the same page. Here’s 3 things that tell you you need to use one.

1— Your feature-based product roadmap is failing you

Problem: When you try to predict exactly what your users will want in 6 months, 18 months, 2 years, all you’re actually doing is playing a guessing game. Your end goal is to create the best possible product, regardless of whether you stick rigidly to requirements or features.

Slow down and think deeply

Your requirements will keep changing throughout the product life cycle, because of updates to value proposition and market trajectories, as well as resource constraints. Don’t tie your team down in order to produce features that may not be valid in a few months’ time.

Mapping out the high-level structure of the project with a broad outline of the expected timelines and feature groups will help stakeholders to visualize the plan and understand the direction of the project.

“Avoid random acts of software.” Brian de Haaff

Whilst regular product roadmaps usually specify features, the Agile product roadmap creates themes. Themes are groups of high-level requirements or initiatives that produce a particular experience in your software product. For example, improving the onboarding experience for your mobile application. Themes enable us to envision large portions of a project, without deciding on specific details that may change throughout the project.

Of course, specific features do need to be confirmed – but save it for your product backlog, where they belong.

Customize your roadmap for the people viewing it

To make things even clearer, you could split your themes into the tasks that will be performed by different scrums or teams. This will not only make the roadmap more coherent but provide a key to each department’s whereabouts at each stage of the project. This is particularly important if some tasks are to be performed by cross-functional teams – for example, say if design and content need to revise the homepage structure and copy together or simultaneously.

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2— Your stakeholders aren’t aligned with your project strategy

Problem: You’ve created your Agile product roadmap but no one can access it.

Remember, it’s not much of a plan if no one knows about it. And if no one can access your roadmap, then you’re back to square one – miscommunication, missed budgets and failed projects.

Keep things out in the open

Once a roadmap is built, it needs to be shared with the entire product team and project stakeholders so everyone understands the vision and direction.

By putting your product roadmap online, all teams and stakeholders have a single source to refer to. Consider using a prototyping tool to create your product roadmap. This will allow you to customize it when schedules and themes inevitably shift around. Then, you can share it with your teams and stakeholders easily with links, exporting it, distributing it on your server or via cloud-based sharing.

Visualization is a time saver

Never assume you know what your client wants. What they have in mind for the product may be very different from what you have envisioned. Keeping everything visual can avoid costly misunderstandings that result in a wasted time, effort and soiled reputations. After all, your clients’ approval is what you need in order to execute against the plan presented.

Bring your stakeholders into the project from day zero by having them build your roadmap with you. Have a JAM session to gather and elicit requirements, build up your themes and present your roadmap to everyone before putting it online.

3— You’re a distant product owner

Problem: Without face to face discussion, communication can break down.

Product Owners are not always in the same place as their team. Separation by walls, floors, or even continents means that teams may go a long time without actually seeing the PO.

Communication is often the weak link within teams. A distant Product Owner may have difficulties arranging time to check in and with feedback loops get lost in translation. This could result in delayed projects, misalignment and demotivation of teams. Ideally, in-person discussion will be had.

But when this simply isn’t an option, the next best solution is to consolidate all of the high-level information about the project in one place. With an Agile product roadmap.

Centralize teams with an Agile product roadmap

“If roadmaps are produced and managed well, they keep customers & internal teams aligned and sell an appealing vision of the future.” Hannah Chaplin

An Agile product roadmap can be a key driver for successful and happy teams, innovative software and, down the line, growing business. Why? Because forecasting a clear plan boosts confidence, puts the product vision into focus and gets teams excited about where you are heading – as well as showing stakeholders what you can deliver.

The theme-based roadmap helps to keep teams informed about the long-term, high-level initiatives. It also allows POs to keep an eye on the competition and business strategy, as well as on everyday user-centric behavior.

In according with Agile methodology, flexibility is a key factor in producing an Agile product roadmap. The roadmap is a living document that needs to be regularly discussed, prioritized, estimated, updated and shared – as Product Plan have it. When you meet with your team for scrum meetings or to create a new sprint, make sure that you update your roadmap. If you have your roadmap online in a prototype, you can update it with your team simultaneously, saving time and reducing the risk of important information getting lost or missed.

Team learning through a goal-oriented roadmap

A goal-oriented roadmap can be a great way for a team to learn and grow. By seeing their progress on a long term scale, they can assess their progress and make changes to benefit the product and strengthen their team. Additionally, when creating the themes for your roadmap, teams will learn how to perform evidence-based decision-making to make sure that the themes are correctly defined.

The takeaway

Product Owners have to contend with organizing teams and stakeholders while trying to take the software project to the next stage. A lot of time, their job could be made easier by consolidating project plans, schedules and milestones in a centralized spot.

The Agile product roadmap combines all of these items to keep everyone aligned, informed and constantly learning. Download Justinmind’s Agile product roadmap template and tips now and test it for yourself.

Emily is Marketing Content Editor at Justinmind

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