Crafting a roadmap

The classic expression of product strategy is a roadmap, which details a sequence of measurable goals and expected outcomes. An agile roadmap will evolve throughout the life of any product you are working on, but should always represent the latest strategic thinking. Make it public and be clear about the bets you are making, who they are designed to help, and how you know you will win or lose. Your roadmap should be designed to meet the specific needs of your product's internal and external stakeholders and may look different from other product roadmaps in terms of structure and presentation.

Because we are agile in our approach, it's important for the everyone to understand that a roadmap is not a promise: it is a prediction, subject to change and typically created with the best available, yet imperfect, information.

Below are some outcomes 18F product managers drive when crafting a product roadmap:

  • Develop a plausible plan for achieving the long-term goals (e.g. roadmap) that informs a pragmatic plan for achieving the short-term goals (e.g. backlog)
  • The level of effort needed to achieve short-term goals should be estimable and potential value identified
  • Short-term goals should feed into an actionable backlog
  • Articulate known dependencies and risks at both the short-term and long-term levels
  • Create a roadmap that's understandable to key stakeholders who are able to explain it to others
  • Make sure the roadmap tracks back to measurable outcomes (metrics) that support the strategy and vision
  • Adjust the roadmap based on validated learning, feedback, and new information throughout development