12-month rolling roadmap

The motivation

When a product manager present to stakeholders a 3-month roadmap, it is not unusual that the product manager gets asked questions like “what about feature X?” or “when will we put more energy on objective Y?”. The answer is normally something in the lines of “it’s planned for future quarters but I believe that what we planned for the coming quarter are the most important things to work on, do you agree?”. This answer will probably generate some frustration.

Elements and how to use the 12-month rolling roadmap

The basic elements that should be in a 12-month rolling roadmap are:

  • objectives and metrics: it is placed at the top of the slide because this is the most important thing of the roadmap, what you are planning to achieve by doing the things you plan to do and how do you measure that you achieved. From these, you create your OKRs.
  • deliveries: here we have what is planned to be delivered by each team to achieve the objectives. It’s important to note down when a new team will be hired and onboarded. Normally it takes some time to hire people and have them onboarded with enough knowledge in order to deliver something. The deliveries are boxes of one or more months. That does not mean that delivery will happen only once per month. Teams should be deploying in production every week, every day, every hour if possible. This means that these deliveries are high-level deliveries, composed of many smaller deliveries that are one level down of details from what is shown in the 12-month rolling roadmaps. For those familiar with agile methodologies, think in terms of themes, epics, and stories. In the 12-month rolling roadmap we are at the level of themes and epics, we don’t go to the level of detail of stories. Note that deliveries for the upcoming quarter are in darker green while the others are in lighter green. This is by design, to show that we are more certain of the things that are closer. It is the job of the product manager presenting this roadmap to maintain the upcoming quarter the focus of the discussion. If your stakeholders want to discuss deliveries later in the roadmap, the only discussion that is important is if that delivery should happen in the upcoming quarter and if so, what should be postponed.
  • discoveries: the same way you present your deliveries in a timeline, you can present the required discoveries you need to do prior to the deliveries. Again, the result of discovery should not be presented only after one or more month. The discovery team (product manager, product designer and someone from engineering) will be making discoveries and sharing them with stakeholders on a weekly or even daily basis, but a better full picture of the discovery may need more time to be put together. This element is optional.
  • constraints: if you have any relevant constraint, it is important to be placed here. In this example, the government was rolling out a new invoice layout that should be used since April 2018. For this reason, our invoicing system should be prepared to issue invoices in this new format by then. This element is also optional.

Digital Product Management Book

Do you work with digital products? Do you want to know more about how to manage a digital product to increase its chances of success? So check out this book I’m writing based on my almost 30 years of experience in creating and managing digital products. The book is called Product Management: How to increase the chances of success of your le product.

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Joca Torres

Joca Torres

Digital product development advisor, coach, and board member. Also an open water swimmer and ukulelist.