How to Create a Product Roadmap Using Agile Methods

The agile software development methodology isn’t about planning. Or is it? There are contradictory opinions concerning the question. Essentially, planning beforehand in agile is not required. Flexibility is the fundamental principle and the primary advantage of the framework, so planning is useless. From a bit different perspective, though, a developers’ team, PMs as well as customers have to know for sure what they are looking to achieve in the long run. Thorough business tactics together with the distinct vision of one’s goals are the pushing forces in building a truly great solution. Here, a long-term plan is irreplaceable.

Agile teams can change their plans on a daily or weekly basis. Short sprints improve the quality and help to deliver better products. But a roadmap based on long-term goals may bring significant improvements to the agile environment.

In this article, we’ll discuss the product roadmap in agile, reasons to create it and the best ways to implement it.

 

What Is Agile Product Roadmap

 

A product roadmap is the plan of product growth and development. In terms of agile software development, a roadmap plays just as important a role as with waterfall or hybrid. It allows defining an upcoming solution’s capabilities alongside approximate dates of new capacities’ implementation. Agile roadmap planning makes the participation of multiple teams necessary.


Why Build a Product Roadmap?


By creating an agile product roadmap you get an opportunity of providing a feedback-oriented, brand new experience for the teams involved. It facilitates studying new things, adapting to changing conditions faster, learning from feedback, and delivering better solutions continuously. A product roadmap shows where exactly experts contribute, the way it will look like, and what value it will bring. So thorough tactics alongside a proper product development image are tasks on top of the necessity to raise overall team spirit.

The three key reasons to create an agile methodology product roadmap are:

  • a convenient, accelerated method of planning, developing, and managing portfolio;
  • allow changing priorities and directions dynamically to achieve the best business results;
  • Roadmap stages are interconnected; involvement of several teams allows sharing expertise throughout departments.

Who Needs an Agile Product Roadmap?


It is a crucial element for each specialist involved with development:

  • An engineering crew must be aware of the functionality requirements, product objectives, & development strategy so they can deliver a top-quality solution;
  • Marketers should be up to speed as to the solution’s objective & philosophy so they can emphasize its real benefits & highlight them most efficiently;
  • Sales departments should define when best to notify users about the upcoming new releases;
  • The management must identify far-seeing prospects & measure a metrics impact on every new release.


Key Principle of Agile Product Roadmap and How It Differs from Its Waterfall Fellow


Waterfall roadmap used to be a subject of passionate discussions. Now, it’s time to dive deeper into understanding the agile roadmap.

Primary specifics of an agile roadmap? It describes the changes a product needs, then shows the results of the processes done. It describes well-defined short-term plans while staying open for further improvements.

The table describes how agile roadmapping is different compared to the waterfall method:

  Waterfall Agile
Goal Business-centric Customer-oriented
Terms Long-term timeline Monthly or quarterly commitments
Investments Funding for the annual plan Funded incrementally corresponding to the functionality developed and customers’ feedback
Collaboration Sequential work of each department Close communication and cooperation between different departments
Flexibility Limited Boundless


How to Build a Product Roadmap Using Agile Methods

Having gotten a grasp of some basics, let’s get to figuring out how to create a product roadmap using agile methods. Here are the 5 steps to take:

  • Define a Product Strategy

The cornerstone of any business success. It’s also an irreplaceable element of the roadmap. Define your philosophy and objectives; determine the achievements you plan reaching in the nearest future. It is also necessary to define strategic initiatives. These are the directions one should take to make it further. It’s helpful in providing stakeholders with more info.

  • Involve Different Groups in the Process

When thinking of how to create an agile product roadmap, prepare for collaboration involving different groups of specialists. Seamless communication will be fundamental for doing it right. Set realistic objectives & estimations, measure solution value and estimate the participants’ efforts accurately. Everything mentioned requires the participation of responsible staff.

  • Connect User Stories & Strategic Themes

The philosophy you’ve defined, alongside your objectives and initiatives, build a foundation for the themes that will turn to functionality. These planned aspects are then analyzed and estimated by engineering specialists. The next stage is creating a feature- & user story-holding backlog. It will be a guide specialist will follow when enhancing your products with new features.

  • Release a Newer Version

A new software version isn’t just a piece of code. It’s a novel customer experience. It’s what fruitful cooperation between various departments brings. But what’s even more important, it shares an understanding of dependencies among process participants.

  • Draw Conclusions

UX interviews are essential here. Your roadmap needs to include the stage of evaluating customers’ opinions and ideas. This information will aid the following release.  Metrics and statistics built during that stage allow measuring realized functionality’s impact on user experience, sales, product popularity, etc. Customers’ ideas, stakeholder’s impression, and real numerical data help to adapt your plans to the expectations, make short-term changes, and set new, more precise goals.


Presenting and Using Product Roadmap


Why do we need an agile product roadmap if we don’t share it with a team? Sharing your roadmap is a particularly important step. Take a look at the following tips on how to do it:

  • Post roadmap online;
  • Use PowerPoint or Spreadsheets;
  • Organize a meeting to discuss the details;
  • Email the slides to each specialist personally;
  • Keep the information updated.


It is unlikely each specialist will be using the roadmap on a daily basis. But the software owner and stakeholder will definitely be taking a look at it frequently.

To use the roadmap, break initiatives into epics, then turn it into a backlog and create the project requirements out of it.

Add updates as soon as you see the roadmap missing on meeting customer expectations and business goals. Keep the team updated.

 

Agile Product Roadmap Examples

 

Have a look at the following images and pick the best agile product roadmap example for your business:

product roadmap

product roadmap

 

8 Tips to Get the Best Results


In order to create an actionable and agile product roadmap, you need to do:

  • Concentrate on user benefits;
  • Tell a product growth story;
  • Avoid overloading your roadmap with features;
  • Be careful with timelines & dates;
  • Build a measurable roadmap;
  • Analyze, evaluate each feature;
  • Stick to short & simple theses, avoid unnecessary details.

Final Thoughts


Need to answer the question like: ‘What is a product roadmap in agile development?’ You should have many answers right now.  However, this task requires your time and attention. Creating an effective agile product roadmap template requires meeting certain strategy and product’s future-related challenges. In case if you need more advice or a more detailed guide to the product roadmap lifecycle, don’t hesitate to reach out!