Project management is complex, and it’s easy to get lost in the intricacies as time passes.
So, how can project managers provide stakeholders with a project overview and its expected development promptly without having to go through the entire project management plan?
By clearly articulating their goals and key performance indicators (KPI) as the key components of strategic project planning.
That’s where project roadmaps are useful.
But how does a roadmap help in executing and managing a project?
By creating a project roadmap, project managers can easily summarize the what, why, and how of a project.
Project roadmaps outline everything on a timetable, helping stakeholders understand the objectives, targets, allocated resources, and expected results of the project.
Going forward, we’ll talk more about what a project roadmap is and how it differs from a project plan.
Furthermore, we’ll go through the necessity of a project roadmap and how to create one.
What Is a Project Roadmap?
A project roadmap gives a visual and detailed overview of the project goals and deliverables laid down over time. Basically, it’s a one-page graphic overview of what’s anticipated to take place during the project and when.
This way, the project is presented in an intelligible timeline format to ensure that all project stakeholders are on the same page.
A project roadmap provides a clear breakdown of-
Besides this, a project development plan is an excellent information tool that can be used to inform all stakeholders during the phases of projects since it acts as a guide.
The overall document is aimed at informing about the project strategy and why it’s being pursued. Project managers are, therefore, helped by a project roadmap to ensure that everyone involved in the project is familiar with its plan.
Why Do You Need a Project Roadmap?
With a project roadmap, you can get a comprehensive overview of a project without going into the finer details. At the same time, it’s a great tool for project management as it helps you create a more detailed project plan.
This way, project managers can keep stakeholders informed of the project’s scope and progress.
Apart from this, road mapping is important because it helps project managers set expectations, get approval, and keep other people involved, like executives and investors, up-to-date.
Additionally, if a project is complex, many changes have to be handled by the teams and departments involved in it. For instance, tasks can get moved to an earlier date or time or it might even be reassigned to another team to meet the deadline.
If such changes do take place, the project management team will require a backup plan to stay on track. That’s why, it’s always wise to keep your team in the loop so they can make informed decisions and successfully complete tasks on time.
Here are a few other reasons why you would need a project roadmap to manage your projects:
To Identify Task Priorities
A project management roadmap assists in identifying the most critical phases of a project. It provides an estimate of the complexity level and effort required.
The development of these stages results in the creation of product maps, which are analogous to project roadmaps as they provide an understanding of a product’s vision and life cycle.
To Communicate Goals to Your Team
A project roadmap is a visually appealing document that outlines the objectives and scope of your project. As soon as your team understands its objectives, it aids their concentration on individual tasks.
Along with that, the project plan provides a summary of the project’s progress, which can assist you and your team in estimating the amount of time needed to complete each phase of the project.
It also serves to remind your workforce about the project’s baseline, thus preventing them from becoming distracted during the implementation phase.
To Communicate With Stakeholders
Organizations may not always meet the expectations of all stakeholders when it comes to the development of their projects. This dissatisfaction is caused by stakeholders’ expectations that teams will be able to adjust to minor changes during the implementation process.
As a result, projects may deviate from their initial objectives, resulting in a decrease in productivity. A project management roadmap can help to prevent misunderstandings between stakeholders and the team by ensuring that everyone is on the same page.
Besides this, it can provide clarity to stakeholders on the steps taken during the implementation of the project.
Project Roadmap vs. Project Plan
A project roadmap and project plan are quite similar in the way they construct the project outline before initiating it. But these are quite different in their specific functions.
Let’s take a look at some of the major differences between them in the table below.
|Project Roadmap||Project Plan|
|Gives a clear, long-term vision. Doesn’t go into the details of daily work||Outlines the scope of a project. Presents it on a timetable to help project managers assign duties and monitor all micro-level aspects of the project.|
|Provides an up-to-date view of the project’s progress to other departments, including the executive team, investors, marketing, and sales.||Provides the project team with an ongoing overview of the progress of the project.|
|Single-page, visual document that outlines the objectives and outcomes of a project on a timeline.||Its outputs often look like Gantt charts, showing who’ll be working on each task, start & finish times, and any task dependencies.|
|Looks at your overall business and product goals to come up with plans and tactics to help you reach those goals.||Analyzes a set of information, such as needs, tasks, objectives, resources, and constraints, to determine the most effective method of delivering what’s required.|
|Mostly doesn’t explicitly include budgeting and costs.||Costs that are an integral part are included in the calculation regardless of the team size, size, and/or allocation.|
|Composed of items subject to varying degrees of risk (classified as low, medium, or high-risk).||Usually only includes low-risk and some medium-risk items.|
Project Roadmap vs. Product Roadmap
There are some basic similarities between product and project roadmaps. But there are also a lot of big differences. Check out the table below to see the main differences between project and product roadmaps.
|Project Roadmap||Product Roadmap|
|Outlines what needs to be done to complete a project.||Typically encompasses strategic objectives, significant upcoming updates, and functionalities to meet short-term as well as long-term objectives.|
|Its goal is to ensure that internal teams can better understand the timeline for specific project milestones. Similarly, cross-functional teams may understand project milestones better by sharing the project plan.||Its goal is to give teams a better understanding of the product’s overall plan. Also helps teams understand the specifics of features and how to explain the main benefits to customers.|
|Typically consists of project objectives, key performance indicators (KPIs), and a timeline to establish the overall timeline.||Also utilized to determine priorities and guarantee that the plans will be in line with the business objectives.|
|Outlines the start and end dates of the project, allowing all stakeholders to gain a comprehensive understanding of the timeline and objectives||Provides just an overview of the product’s general direction for internal and external users|
Typically includes these elements:
Typically includes these elements:
|Also includes a plan for a particular project but is typically more focused on the time frame.||Product objectives are often linked to business objectives.|
|Typically created by a project manager whose primary objective is to get the project completed on time.||Typically created by a product manager for the achievement of key corporate objectives and goals.|
|Scope includes the total resources, the capacity of the team, and the deliverable milestones.||Scope includes the essential elements that will contribute to its success.|
Product roadmaps, as well as project roadmaps, are important for business as these help teams stay on track while they work to build something lasting.
When you have a game-changing idea and you’re accurately communicating your direction to your team, you’re sure to achieve great things.
That’s why it’s essential to create and communicate your product and project roadmap correctly and on time. That way, you’ll be able to meet your product goals or complete projects on time.
What Are the Key Elements in a Project Roadmap?
Here are some of the key elements you should include in your project roadmap.
Project Goals and Objectives
The primary purpose of a project roadmap is to document the project’s primary objectives and goals to determine whether they’re being achieved in a timely and cost-effective manner.
By doing so, you can get answers to questions like-
- What are the objectives of this project?
- Are they being met?
- How quickly are they being met?
- Are they expected to be met by the end of the project’s timeframe?
A project roadmap organizes all the objectives, resources, and outputs related to the project and arranges them on the project timeline, allowing for easy visibility into what’s happening and if they’re all included in the project schedule.
Resource management helps you know about the resources required in a project as well as their effectiveness. Not only that, it can tell you whether you need to add or take away resources depending on how successful they are and how quickly the project is achieving its goals.
What kind of concrete outcomes do we want to see out of this project?
Projects have deliverables, which are the tangible outcomes you want to get out of a project, usually within the time frame it takes. With a project deliverable view, people looking at a project plan can easily see how far along the project is. In the absence of this information, project work can keep proceeding without any scope of getting completed on time.
When you have specific deliverables, it’s important to analyze the project progress on certain parameters to make sure that you’re heading in the right direction. This systemized measurement helps everyone be on the same page.
The purpose of the project timeline is to contextualize the progress of the project by monitoring the estimated duration of the project. By reviewing the objectives, outputs, and milestones, project stakeholders can determine if the objectives are being met or not and can accurately visualize the status of a project.
This helps monitor projects in a way that any bottlenecks can be identified and removed well in time to ensure that there’s smooth progress.
A project milestone is just an accomplishment that shows you’ve reached a certain point in your project. That’s why milestone tracking provides a unique way to track project progress by looking at the completion levels attained.
Possible Risk Factors
The plan should also include any potential roadblocks or risks that could affect the project’s success.
There are lots of other features that can be added to a project plan. Some of these are as follows:
- Task dependencies that will help determine the flow of tasks
- Key individuals who will be a part of the project
- Roles and responsibilities at the partner, stakeholder, or cross-functional levels
- High-level deadlines that need to be identified and met for successful project completion
- Task delegation for multiple people or cross-functional teams
- Key contacts that are required to help the project progress smoothly
The illustration above shows a possible roadmap for IT responsibilities for a company, which shows all the elements we’ve discussed above. Here’s what these elements are:
|Project Goals and Objectives||Making new branch office tech ready for opening by the end of the year|
|Project Timeline||Quarters 1, 2, and 3|
|Possible Risk Factors||
When Should You Use a Project Roadmap?
Project roadmaps are a great way to keep track of projects, programs, and portfolios whenever you need to manage them.
They’re usually created during the planning stage but used throughout the duration of the project as a tool that everyone can access, like key people, project managers, and team members.
Because project roadmaps are so easy to use, they’re preferred by project managers and program managers, as well as project management offices, to keep track of multiple projects.
Project roadmaps are also useful for:
- project managers who want to quickly communicate important information, such as project objectives, to project stakeholders without overwhelming them with the details.
- executives and other project stakeholders to get a general overview of the project and how it’ll work, without having to deal with the details every day.
- early stages of a project when the details have not been fully worked out.
How to Create a Project Roadmap
Now that we know what a project roadmap is and what it’s used for, let’s see how to make one.
Step 1: Create a Kickoff Meeting for Your Project
The goal of the meeting is to –
- meet the people involved
- get to know your team
- understand what they’re looking for
- answer any questions or questions they have about the project.
With these, it becomes easier to establish a consensus and initiate a successful process. It’s time to introduce the project team and enhance comprehension of the project to expedite the start of work.
Step 2: Break Down Your Project Scope
The scope of your project is defined as the sum of all the project tasks. In other words, it’s the work to be completed in a project. This is why defining the project scope is one of the initial steps in creating a project roadmap.
Before creating a project timeline, it’s necessary to identify the project activities that need to be completed. A work breakdown structure can be used to ensure that every task is identified.
This is what a work breakdown structure for project management would normally look like. The diagram illustrates different stages of the project taking into consideration factors like development, documentation, testing, risk management, and mobile and web applications.
Step 3: Project Mapping
Project maps are a visual representation of tasks, milestones, and requirements in the development process of a project. With this step, you can:
- assist teams in visualizing what is to be achieved and emphasize the connections between different tasks.
- help the development team work on the project.
- help stakeholders understand the scope of the project.
The illustration below is a good example of a project map. It illustrates every stage that a construction project could go through prior to building a roadmap.
Step 4: Link Task Dependencies
Now that you’ve got a basic project schedule with tasks and due dates, it’s time to define task dependencies. The relationships between project activities are referred to as task dependencies. These dependencies define the sequence of project tasks that must be completed.
For instance, certain tasks must be completed consecutively, meaning that one task must be finished before the next one can commence.
There are four types of task dependencies. These are-
- a. Finish to Start (FS)
- b. Start to Start (SS)
- c. Finish to Finish (FF)
- d. Start to Finish (SF)
The diagram below explains how each type of dependency works in project management.
Step 5: Identify Deliverables
Define what the deliverables are for each project. The deliverables should be quantifiable, specific, and realistic. These should also be in line with the project’s goals.
What’s a deliverable?
A deliverable is a set of tangible or intangible goods/services that must be provided at the end of a project.
For instance, here’s a list of possible deliverables for a construction project:
- Project strategy
- Reports related to budgeting
- Reports about the engineering work
- Proposals for the construction project
- Drawings of the construction design
- Documents that are related to the design work
- Quality check reports
- The completed construction project
Step 6: Set Project Milestones
The goal of project milestones is to help project teams stay focused on the major milestones in a project. This helps project managers plan and schedule their projects better.
Just like tasks break down a bigger project into smaller parts, project milestones break down projects into different phases so project managers can plan, schedule, and get them done.
Sail Smoothly With a Project Roadmap
When you start a new project, you’re probably feeling a mix of nervousness and excitement. It can be hard to know where to start and that’s why it’s important to have a plan to begin. A great project roadmap gives you that. It also acts like a compass that you can pull out of your pocket whenever you start to feel lost.
A project roadmap helps start a project and to manage the expectations of stakeholders. Besides, it assists in motivating the team to adhere to project deadlines.
It’s not something you’ll be talking about every day, but it’ll help you stay on track throughout the project.
What should a project roadmap include?
A project roadmap must have goals & objectives, a list of key deliverables, important milestones, a project timeline, a resource management plan, metrics, and possible risk factors.