What is a Project Roadmap?
A Project Roadmap is a graphical high-level overview of the project's main components: The timeline includes the MMS (Major Mile Stones), key deliverables, dependencies, and goals. It is a simple viewing of the project and shouldn’t contain many details, which should appear only in the work plan.
Software Product Roadmap Template PowerPoint
The roadmap PowerPoint template for software products has 4 sections – the timeline, which is right on the top, capabilities, features, and deliverable. The timeline on the top is a table and can be modified as needed. I have it down as monthly, but you can change it to quarterly or yearly as needed. The capabilities part of the roadmap should capture the high-level goals the product or the project is intended to achieve. In the example above, we look at building a decision management tool, so the capabilities are Decision Metaphors, Workflow, and UI Module.
The deliverable lists have the list of outcomes that you will expect from that phase of project or product development. After each capability, there is an indication line what will be the finished product. If your product is not usable till the end, then you don't need the beta versions in between.
Also, note that the color of the features matches the capability to indicate which features belong to which capability. Bigger the size of the feature, the greater the importance of that features. In some cases, it might be important to develop a feature that is part of the capability planned for the later stage of the product development.
IT Roadmap Templates for Excel, Word, and Visio
In this article, we have also covered roadmap templates using excel, word, and Visio. In each of these templates, we have used an example IT Software Customization Project. With IT Projects, it is common to show only the top-level phases in the roadmap. As mentioned before, a project roadmap is used to show a high-level view of the projects, so it is best to avoid having many details in the roadmap.
In the roadmap template work streams, a monthly timeline and the high-level tasks to be done. We have Current System Analysis, New Systems Build, Test, and Go Live in this project as different phases. Under the current system, analysis tasks such as analysis, planning, and presenting conclusions are included. In the New Systems Build, we have to approve the plan and doing the actual customization. In the testing workstream, we have testing and fixing defects. Finally, we have the system go-live, which is when the system will start running in production.
Why should you use a project roadmap template?
Sometimes it can be difficult for Product or Project Managers to visualize the different goals of a project or product development. Using a roadmap template allows visualization of the timeline and the components and deliverable s with a high-level overarching strategy.
Project Roadmap can also show high-risk areas if the PM wishes to alert the team members to that fact. The main goal of the Roadmap is to show the team members and stakeholders of the project in one simple plan what the timeline is and who is depending on them to begin/ complete their activities.
The columns represent a time period (weeks, months, etc.), while the rows represent the different Workstream that makes up a project. For example: In an SW project, the rows can be split into Build, Testing, Data Migration, etc. Most roadmaps are color-coded, mainly by areas of responsibility. This means that each work streams has the same color.
How to create a Project Roadmap?
Decide on the format and duration.
Each format has its own pros and cons, and everyone has their preferences. The most popular format is Excel since it is easy to put together and maintain. Depending on the duration of the project, decide on the time format of the columns. If the project takes more than 6 months, then each column should represent a month. If less, then a column should represent a week. In case of a monthly duration, the top tier should present the year and the one beneath it, the months. If a weekly duration is chosen, then the top tier should be monthly and the bottom one weekly.
Agree on workstreams and deliverable
Workstreams - Split the project into 4-6 main workstreams, and each one will be represented by one or more rows. They should be grouped by a similar group that is performing the tasks in the roadmap. Set the MMS, Deliverable, Tasks, and Dependencies. Now comes the part of inserting the parts that make up the roadmap. This can be achieved either by two methods – Top-Down and Bottom-up.
Top-Down - Setting the due date for the projects’ end and then working backward until reaching the start date. The result will be that the roadmap will present the duration available for each task if the project wants to meet the due dates. This is the easier method, but it doesn’t necessarily consider the input from the various workstreams. The result may be that the team members won’t be aligned with the dates and duration and not be committed to them.
Bottom-Up - This method requires more time and effort, but the result is usually more accurate, and the teams feel more committed to them since they are the ones who asked for them. Using this method entails gathering the estimated duration for the teams' tasks and inserting them into the roadmap.
Dependencies and Resources
The dependencies should also be inserted, and this will make up the roadmap. The last task will set the due date for the entire project; assigning a resource (optional): Assigning a certain resource to each task and presenting their names in the roadmap.
Communicate the roadmap: Share the result with all the team members, stakeholders, vendors, and clients and receive their feedback. Once this is collected and analyzed, the final result must be shared with all project resources. It will serve as an alignment tool for the entire lifecycle of the project. Receive approval from the main stakeholders and marketing team to share the result.
How to make your roadmap effective
Decide on a method before starting the work on the roadmap (Top-Down vs. Bottom-Up). Remember that this is a team effort, and try and get as much input as possible while putting it together. This will result in a more mature and accurate roadmap, which will be highly accountable and more likely achievable. Visibility: Colour code the workstreams, make the MMS a different shape or color than the regular tasks, clearly mark the dependencies, and change the background color of high-risk areas. Usually, a task is represented by a rectangle and an MMS by a rhombus.
If using a monthly duration, consider adding a third tier which will represent the weeks. This will help with identifying the correct start and finish dates of each task. Write the task / MMS name inside the shape or by using a callout. The roadmap can also be used for progress vs. plan chart by adding the percentage complete inside the shape itself. It is also possible to color the inside of the shape according to the percent complete. This is a good visual way to easily show whether the progress is according to the plan. When presenting the roadmap in a status meeting, add a vertical line that starts at the top and goes all the way down to the bottom row.
The line should be according to the current date when the status is presented (e.g., if the plan is presented on 21-Aug, the line should be in the fourth week of August and go all the way down). This will help in recognizing the late / ahead of scheduled tasks. The roadmap should be the only tool used for presenting the project's high-level plan to negate confusion by using multiple plans. The roadmap should also be used to create a detailed plan. This should be done by breaking down the tasks into smaller ones, which will compromise the larger roadmap task. The last row should contain only the Go-Live task.