Before a Classic project starts, it needs a go-ahead from the stakeholders or executives. However, for that to happen, you need to present the initiative’s proposal. And for that purpose, there is no better tool than a project roadmap. It’s also useful in other situations, so it’s worth a closer look.
This article answers the most common questions about a project roadmap:
- What is it?
- How does it help project managers?
- How to create it?
We’ll consider the roadmap from the perspective of a Classic (Waterfall) approach. So, without further ado, let’s get started.
Project roadmap – the essentials
What is a project roadmap?
To put it simply, the project roadmap is a visual representation of the main aspects of a project. It focuses on high-level information – strategic elements of the business. Don’t confuse it with the product roadmap. Usually, product development comprises multiple projects or even programs. Therefore, it’s much more complex than a roadmap of a single project.
A project manager creates a roadmap, and it is often first presented for approval before the project’s launch. While it is created with stakeholders or executives in mind, that’s not the only group that can benefit from it.
Other teams or even individual team members can get valuable insights from the project roadmap. Unlike Agile, there are no alignment meetings in the Classic approach. But when teams do meet to discuss progress, the roadmap will keep them up to date in key areas. This makes planning individual work much easier.
Think about the roadmap as an outline of a project. There is no need to include the list of tasks with assigned people. Just the core information will suffice. In fact, it’s worth taking a closer look at the key elements of a project roadmap.
The inclusion of objectives is incredibly important. It answers the question: “what goals does the project help reach?” It serves as a point of reference to the organization’s strategic targets.
On top of that, a roadmap provides a reminder of the goals to everyone involved. Furthermore, it helps track the completion of a goal when the initiative is in progress.
In other words, it’s a list of tangible project results. Unlike a portfolio, projects aim at delivering specific output. Prior to the launch, it’s good to know what it’s supposed to produce.
Keep in mind, deliverables are connected to the objectives. Thus, only the results that support the business goals should be in consideration.
Every project takes time into account, both during the planning phase and while the initiative is in progress. For Classic initiatives, the timeline should include the following information:
- The start date,
- The end date,
- Total duration of the project,
- The beginning and end of each phase.
After all, Waterfall projects are divided into phases, which occur in sequence. It means one phase must finish before the next one can start. That’s why an estimate of the duration of the stages is so vital in a project roadmap.
First of all, what is a milestone? It’s an event in a project that is important enough to be marked separately. Some teams use milestones to illustrate the completion of a project phase. Others might use them as a touch point to meet and discuss progress.
Why are milestones included in a roadmap? They provide additional information about the progress of the project – letting stakeholders know what to expect at certain stages. You can think of them as a complement to the timeline.
The roadmap of your project should also contain an overview of the assets needed to complete the initiative. Of course, at that point, these are only estimates. Having said that, it’s still a sound idea to have a baseline for the future.
Here are the main types of resources that should find their way into your project roadmap:
When phases of the project entail different activities, it’s wise to see how they impact one another. That’s precisely what dependencies are for. They visualize the relationships between tasks or phases of the project. Additionally, they can provide insights into potential delays and the order of the workload.
Here is an example of a project roadmap:
What is the goal of the project roadmap?
Now you know what the roadmap should contain. But what about its purpose? Actually, we can discern three main goals of this tool:
- Conveying the main objectives of a project to stakeholders.
- Visualizing the project with a focus on the essentials.
- Staying abreast of the developments by the stakeholders.
Benefits of roadmaps in projects
Utilizing a roadmap for your project can be hugely beneficial. Not just for a manager or the team but for the rest of the organization, too. Here are some of the perks of the roadmap in project management:
- Provides stakeholders or executives with a strategic overview of the project.
- Helps track progress throughout the project’s duration.
- Focuses on aspects essential for the business.
- Streamlines the exchange of crucial information between teams.
That’s all you need to know theory-wise. Here is a quick summary of the project roadmap in a visual form.
But how do you create a roadmap? Fret not; there is a process for that. It’s time to take a look at it.
How to create a roadmap for Classic projects?
You might think that building the roadmap of a project is a tall order. However, if you break it down into smaller steps, it will be much more attainable. Follow these steps to create a project roadmap that will serve as a solid structure for your initiative.
Create a project roadmap with BigPicture
If your organization uses Jira to manage work, BigPicture is the best tool to create a project roadmap. In Classic projects, the Gantt chart is the way to go to roadmap initiatives. Here is why.
Firstly, all of the crucial elements of the project roadmap are displayed on the chart. This means you have a full view of the roadmap without any unnecessary information.
Having said that, you can quickly turn your roadmap into a Work Breakdown Structure. Just pick the data you want to display on the Gantt module. In other words, you can operate on different granularity levels depending on what you need at the time. As a result, you don’t need to create two separate boards for daily project management and stakeholder presentations.
Synchronization with Jira is another essential reason. All the task data of the project is updated automatically and shown on the roadmap. For example, when one of the team members changes a task status in Jira, the change is reflected in BigPicture. That way, managers and stakeholders have up-to-date project information at all times.
Hopefully, you are now up to speed on the project roadmap. As you can see, it’s a tool that every manager should use regularly. It’s a great way of keeping tabs on the progress of your initiative for everyone involved.