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In part 1 of this blog, I talked about the differences between traditional product roadmaps and agile roadmaps. I also discussed a little bit on how agile roadmaps are better than it's traditional counterpart.
In part 2 of this blog, I dive a bit more into the intricacies of the agile roadmap. I discuss what it contains and the key elements that give any kind of a product roadmap the agility it needs. Let's get in.
What Does an Agile Roadmap Contain?
Before we go further and list out the points that help us build an agile product roadmap, there is something that we should understand. The agile methodology, by its very own definition, is adaptive to the necessary requirements and the changing conditions. With that being said, it will not be completely wrong that the elements of an agile product roadmap vary. The elements, although some of them remain the same, depend on the product, the team, the resources available and whatever the team decides upon. Below are the important segments of the agile product roadmap that are in many senses "must haves" while building one.
■ Product vision: An agile product roadmap must convey the purpose of the product or the estimated impact of the product once it hits the market. It could also be defined as the mission and vision of the company that designs/owns it. The product vision gives the agile product roadmap a direction, something that is absolutely necessary for the product's business desirability and success.
For example, if your product is an online video editor, then your vision should be along the lines of making video editing easy for everyone.
■ Milestones/checkpoints: The end goal of an agile product roadmap, or any particular roadmap for that matter is the release of a desirable and valuable product. In the process of agile development, instead of versions, there are iterations which can be defined as "milestones/checkpoints".
For example, creating an MVP could be defined as a checkpoint. Having a working prototype could be defined as another. These milestones/checkpoints work as short term goals and stable states in the path of development.
■ User stories: To reach each of the milestones in the agile product roadmap, the development team needs to conceptualize, validate, iterate and complete a certain number of user stories. These user stories ultimately the product's desirability resulting in it's final business value.
■ Approximate time allocations: Even though many agile product roadmaps believe in moving forward with just keeping "checkpoints/milestones" in mind, it is well important to keep the pace of development under consideration. The reason why time allocations are "approximate" in agile, is to avoid haphazard completion of a sprint. For instance, if you are to review a digital content, you should do it in a way that something positive comes out of that, not just for the sake of doing it.
For example, if the next milestone is to complete an user story, there needs to be a stipulated duration for it. It will be detrimental to the fate of the product if it lingers longer than it needs to.
Key Benefits of an Agile Roadmap
■ Accountability: Agile product roadmaps put a name or a team in front of a milestone/task. In other words, it takes care of the division of labour and the division is decided by the team itself.
■ Alignment: Coherence and simultaneous effort will help achieve the vision faster and efficiently. An agile product roadmap helps with obtaining synchronicity throughout the development process.
■ Direction: The most important purpose of an agile product roadmap is that it provides direction to the development and to the teams. "What" and "Why" questions always pop-up and should be answered to remove ambiguity.
In this article, so far, we have discussed what are the important elements of an agile product roadmap and how an agile product roadmap helps with the three challenging aspects of product development: direction, alignment and accountability.
One final thing to keep in mind while sitting together with your cross-functional agile team to build a product roadmap is: efficient collaboration. Purposeful, transparent and meaningful communication is absolutely necessary to make agile work. A chain is as good as its weakest link. Make sure that you don't have one.