Hit the roadmap

by Don Lowe
CEO

December 13, 2018
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Every successful project needs to be able to coordinate technology and business development. There needs to be a way to facilitate changes. Without a proper plan, your project will waste resources and time. A good project plan is based on a roadmap that shows exactly how the choices we make today will affect our future.

The long-term effect of not having a plan manifests itself in many ways. A common symptom is that you have started using quick fixes to speed up the project – only to find that it is actually taking longer. This leads to poor quality work. Work is assigned to keep developers busy because they are just waiting for others to complete their tasks. Jobs are no longer done in order. This results in having to re-do functionality that now doesn’t match. It is time consuming and leads to delays and increased costs. You also end up losing trust in each other. You are faced with endless frustration for the developers and the end customer. Without a road map you cannot develop a meaningful breakdown of work, your project will waste peoples time, resources and cost more to deliver.

Forbytes illustrations programmer manager roadmap building road to organize business

What you need is a well-planned project roadmap that is simple to understand. It is a vital component for the project to succeed. A road map clearly shows what has been done and what is still outstanding. It helps reach an agreement about what the needs are and in identifying the most suitable solution to deliver on those needs.

With a roadmap you can easily plan in when other parties need to be scheduled in for work. Most importantly; it is built on what our client-partners and their end-users will find useful. Because that is what gives you the best business value for money. 

The best way to get the most business value

When the Capability Breakdown Structure (CBS) is done, it is time to hit the roadmap! Think of a roadmap as a jigsaw puzzle. Which of the different sub-components (epics), when put together will give your business value early on. Here is a brief outline on how it is done.

MVP resources for idea validation

​Terminology

​Epic is a technical term for a grouping of user scenarios and acceptance tests that combine to create a component. In an e-store the shopping basket would be classified as an epic. The features, such as being able to remove items from the basket, would require individual user scenarios and acceptance tests.

​Step 1: Selecting epics from your CBS

Take the lowest sub-components (epics) in your CBS and along with your team decide which order assemble your epics. Number all the components. For example: “Management” would be labelled as number 1 with its sub-products listed as “1.1 warehouse management” and “1.2 staff management” etc.

Forbytes capability breakdown structure illustration

​Step 2: Build your roadmap

Start to build the road map by deciding in which order you will build your e-commerce solution. Start with the ones which will give you the most business value early on. 

Forbytes hit the roadmap graph order of business

Look at the example above and notice that the numbers of the components are no longer in numerical order but the order in which you are going to build your e-commerce solution. The arrows are pointing in the direction of the work flow. 

Step 3: Identify your development sequence

The components can now be assembled into work packages (WP). Identifying what needs to be done in each work package makes it easier to identify which component products or features should be developed in sequence and which can be developed in parallel to each other. 

MVP resources for idea validation

​Terminology

A work package (WP) is a list of jobs that need to be done. They are also known as "sprints".

Forbytes hit the roadmap graph divide into work packages

​Step 4: Showing progress

To indicate progress in the roadmap you can use colour coding to show when components in the WP is done. Green for done. Orange for work in progress and red for when the component needs to be broken down into its lowest component or needs additional information. You may want to use red to show epics that need detailed requirements in the form of user scenarios and acceptance tests in the road map. The ​capability breakdown structure is for breaking down components. 

Forbytes hit the road map graph roadmap progress illustration

​Added benefits of creating a roadmap

​You can use the roadmap as a communication tool to:

  • ​Identify a logical way to build your solution
  • ​Identify dependencies between different components and users
  • ​Implement rolling wave planning so that you make the most effective use of your limited time and resources
  • ​Build more detailed work breakdown structures for project management purposes
  • ​​Detailed planning for effective allocation of people and resources
  • Present the progress of the work done to the wider audience in a very simple and easy to understand format

​Good luck and be in touch if you have any comments or want some more guidance in this matter.