You may love Agile for its flexibility and fluid requirements processes. Still, Agile has its exhibits that document your project’s path to success — Agile, after all, requires more documentation and holds the team more accountable than other methodologies do. One piece of documentation, though, gets overlooked more than others because it echoes that Waterfall feel: the product roadmap.
What an Agile Product Roadmap Is
In case you haven’t heard of it, a product roadmap is an extremely high-level view of your product’s path. It outlines basic steps and delivery deadlines to help everyone on the team stay focused on when certain steps need to happen for the project to succeed.
In Waterfall, the project manager develops this high-level outline and typically morphs it into a detailed, start-to-finish project plan. An Agile roadmap, on the other hand, comes from the product owner (with input from developers, of course). It’s a flexible timeline that builds automatic categories for the backlog and filters out requirements that don’t lead to the project’s overall success. Use it as a buy-in tool that helps your team get the budget and resources it needs and something to point to when executives say they want a new feature that doesn’t tie into the project’s goals.
Why Your Team Needs Software to Track Its Roadmap
As with all Agile exhibits, you can draw an Agile product roadmap on a big piece of paper and call it a day. Many product owners also try using the software they have on hand, such as Microsoft Project or Visio, to create the roadmap. However, Agile roadmap software is infinitely more helpful for most teams.
In an ideal world, an Agile team spends its days in a war room. In that war room, you can hang all he exhibits on the wall, draw all over them and generally manage the project in that vacuum. Unfortunately, most of us work in the real world, where war rooms are hard to come by and teams don’t even work in the same time zone, never mind the same room. In the real world, we need real-time information we can share with the entire team whenever and wherever its members work.
That’s why sharing a roadmap as static document such as a project plan or Visio chart doesn’t work well for distributed teams — all the emails in the world won’t keep everyone on the same page. Your team needs Agile roadmap software to keep everyone on track.
What Makes Agile Roadmap Software Different
When your team uses Agile roadmap software, everyone can check the same documentation to see where the project stands. Most software applications also send alerts to the team when the roadmap changes, which lessens the administrative burden on the scrum master and product owner.
Plus, many pieces of software use the data you enter to produce layers of exhibits for different types of stakeholders. For example, with many software your team can track progress on sprints and view sprint roadmaps, while executives get high-level summaries without the granularity that people working on the project need. Likewise, some software solutions integrate with your existing ticketing systems to show impacts of your team working on fixes as well as upgrades to existing products and reflect where the product fits within your business’ overall strategy.
If your product owners aren’t building roadmaps, give roadmap software a shot. Your team will be glad you did.