🗺️ Roadmapping - Part 7: Layering your roadmaps
Why would you want to add layers to your roadmap? Well, different roadmaps help communicate with various stakeholders and can have different timelines and levels of detail.
We've talked about many types of roadmaps, and that's just scratching the surface. These roadmaps are great on their own, each having its benefits. However, it's pretty likely that one single format won't work for all use cases. It's often necessary to use a combination of layers to your roadmap.
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Recapping Roadmap Types
Let's revisit the various roadmap types we've discussed in previous posts:
Outcomes-based Roadmap: Focuses on the end goals or outcomes rather than specific features or solutions.
Goal-based Roadmap: Outlines strategic goals and how to achieve them.
Milestones Roadmap: Highlights key achievements and deadlines.
Feature Roadmap: Details specific features and enhancements.
Development Roadmap: Centers on the development team's plans, including technical tasks and timelines.
Release Roadmap: Showcases upcoming product releases and updates.
Timeline-based Roadmaps: Varying from sprint-based to half-year timelines, including Gantt charts.
Now, Next, Later: Prioritizes initiatives into immediate, near-future, and long-term categories.
Why would you want to add layers to your roadmap? Well, different roadmaps help communicate with various stakeholders and can have different timelines and levels of detail. There are a few ways to think about how you combine these roadmaps.
Understanding Roadmap Layering
Layering your roadmap is like constructing a complex multi-story building with a mix of retail, living, and office space. Each layer addresses a specific audience or goal, providing a tailored view of the product's trajectory. This approach is essential for several reasons:
Stakeholder Engagement: Different stakeholders, from internal teams to investors and customers, require different information. A layered roadmap lets you communicate effectively with each group, ensuring clarity and relevance.
Flexibility and Detail Management: With layered roadmaps, you can easily adjust the level of detail presented. This flexibility is crucial for maintaining focus and avoiding information overload.
Efficiency in Updates: Updating a single, multi-layered roadmap can be more efficient than managing multiple independent roadmaps.
All in one roadmap
Creating a comprehensive roadmap is possible, but it's crucial to consider what details are appropriate for different stakeholders. Overloading a single roadmap with excessive information can be counterproductive.
Alternatively, you can create completely separate roadmaps for each purpose or audience. Maintaining all these roadmaps and ensuring everyone has the latest version is challenging. To a degree, you'll have to do this regardless of how much you try not to. One of the tools in the next section might help you.
Beyond traditional roadmapping, many tools offer added functionalities like customer insights, prioritization, and documentation. I have the most experience with ProductBoard. I like its ability to capture feedback and prioritize, along with its layered roadmapping tools, but Aha and ProductPlan are similar. Here's a brief overview of some other prominent tools:
ProductBoard, Aha, and ProductPlan: These platforms are known for their comprehensive roadmapping capabilities and are well-known in Product Management.
JIRA and ASANA: More limited in roadmapping features but valuable for project and task management.
Airfocus, Craft, ClickUp, UserVoice, ProdPad, Monday.com, Pendo, Rapidr: Offer diverse features catering to roadmapping, product management and project management.
Each tool has its strengths and is suited to different aspects of roadmapping. The choice largely depends on the specific needs of your project and stakeholders.
Other tools for visual roadmapping:
LucidChart, Draw.io, Miro, Figma, Boardmix: These design-focused tools can be instrumental in creating visually appealing roadmaps for public display or presentations.
Can you create roadmaps with these design and mind-mapping tools? Sure you can. These tools are especially helpful when making a public roadmap you publish or share in marketing or sales materials, partner materials, your website, or an investor/board presentation.
Ultimately, you'll use various tools to plan and build your roadmap. What will work for you depends on your team, company, and what's already in place. Remember your roadmap's many purposes and audiences, and ensure you don't add unnecessary complexity for a given group of stakeholders.
Suppose you're looking at an atlas and trying to navigate via a map. In that case, I'm sure you'd be thrilled there isn't unnecessary public works and municipal information like water, sewage, gas, property taxes, etc. As someone navigating a city, that's irrelevant information. However, that information is needed for public works or utility companies and must be available in a different layer through a GIS. The same logic applies to your roadmap.
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To learn more about roadmaps, check out the rest of this roadmapping series.
Roadmaps aren’t intended to remain static. We’ll explore some ways to help keep your roadmap fluid and up-to-date as things change.
How do you decide what gets put on your roadmap?
When should you add Milestones to your roadmap? What constitutes a milestone?
This type of roadmap focuses on outcomes over features or solutions.
Avoid concrete timeframes and focus on priorities.
The roadmap you build for your dev team differs significantly from what you would create for your stakeholders and customers.
Part 7: Layering your roadmaps 👈
How layering shows different levels of detail within your roadmap for various stakeholders and taking a simple approach to maintaining them.
Let me know if there's anything else about roadmaps you want to see expanded on, and I'll develop this series more if there's enough interest.