The long and winding road
That leads to your door
Will never disappear
I’ve seen that road before
It always leads me here
Lead me to your door
John and Paul wrote this song (1) almost 50 years ago and I would like to show you that even in today’s world it’s still a long and winding road to deliver your product to your customers.
In one of my previous blogs about aligning business and IT using the IT4IT reference architecture (2), explained that a product roadmap is not just a one-dimensional single roadmap but one that consists of many roadmaps that should all lead to delivering your product to your customers ‘door’.
Chaos in a multi-dimensional roadmap
Each company has multiple roadmaps. Sometimes these are not properly managed or not even visible to senior management or decision makers. As an example, you could have a roadmap that is aligned with your product strategy but does not identify the individual needs from your internal teams (like architecture, IT operations and finance) or does not align with the sometimes-conflicting product needs from your different customers.
It is therefore important to align all these different roadmaps and initiatives with your strategic roadmap.
Be aware that all these individual teams and customers can and will bring in a different view on priorities and urgency, which will sometimes lead you away from that winding road that leads you to your customers “door”. That should make you believe that it is a complex task to keep everybody on the same road that brings you to that “door” and bring order in the chaos of a multi-dimensional roadmap.
A roadmap is not a backlog
A definition of a roadmap is that it is a strategic plan that defines a goal or desired outcome and includes the major steps or milestones needed to reach it. Besides that, it also serves as a communication tool, a high-level document that helps articulate strategic thinking and explains ‘the
“why”’ behind both the goal and the plan for getting there.
A backlog is essentially a to-do list of the tasks required to complete a strategic initiative with needs ranked according to priority. At Infocare, the backlog translates itself into a wide variety of projects that are created from the needs from the individual teams and product strategy.
In our company the roadmap always goes together with the project backlog in order to reach its high-level strategic goals. These goals, which are derived from our Objectives and Key Results OKR’s (3), translate directly into individual projects that can be assigned and tracked throughout their project life cycle.
Communication about the roadmap to your teams is an important factor in making your product a success and to be able to reach that customer “door” as quickly as possible.
It is not just sending a message across about which project is coming up next. By providing more insights into the different roadmaps and interdependencies and relationships between several initiatives and/or projects, your teams will show more engagement and will also play a crucial role in contributing and delivering input in relation to upcoming projects.
Along today’s ever-changing customer needs, rapidly changing technologies and regulatory requirements, it is important to make sure all your teams are aware of these changes.
Roadmap and strategy
A backlog with just a long list of projects does not bring a strong message across to your organisation. That is why we have chosen to use company OKR’s which we have further separated into 3 individual areas which are speaking more to the individual team needs and responsibilities. All our projects lead to reaching the goals which are stated in our company OKR’s and allow us to bring across a very transparent and clear view on the strategic direction of the company, products and individual teams.
Even when not deviating from your strategic goals and vision, your individual projects can get a higher or lower ranking within the project backlog based on the short term need that arises. Change will happen, whether you like it or not. Therefore, it is very important to be agile in managing your roadmap and your ability to bring in changes within very short notice. Agility together with the proper communication around those changes will make your teams much more open to change and adapt quickly when new needs have been identified and changes to planning have been introduced, without losing sight of the strategic goals.
Our road will never disappear and will clearly show the way behind the company’s strategic reasoning that will lead us to our customers door.
Jos van der Linden
(1) The Beatles, Paul McCartney and John Lennon song lyrics ‘The long and winding road’
Available at: https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/paulmccartney/thelongandwindingroad.html
(2) The Open Group IT4IT Reference Architecture Framework
More information at: https://www.opengroup.org/it4it
(3) John Doerr, 2018. Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock
the World with OKRs.
Available at: https://www.whatmatters.com/