The Beginner Guide To Project Roadmap

  • November 23, 2021
  • by Guest Author
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A project roadmap is a highly visual overview of the project that describes all its goals and deliverables. Mostly presented as a timeline, a project roadmap helps in setting expectations, updating the stakeholders about the project plans, and resource management.

A successful project is not only dependent upon the skills and knowledge of the project team. But it also comes down to planning and brainstorming before working on the project. And this is where a project roadmap comes into the picture.

The guide below takes you through the ins and outs of project roadmaps and shows you why your team needs one.

Read on.

What is a project roadmap?

A project roadmap is a graphical view of the goals and deliverables of a project, usually presented in the form of a timeline. Unlike a project plan where all the details of a plan are described, the roadmap is a simplified, high-level overview to showcase key elements in the form of a timeline.

A project roadmap usually consists of the following:

  • Project’s strategic objectives and goals
  • Possible risks in a project
  • A timeline showing the entire schedule or project lifecycle
  • Key milestones and deliverables
  • Dependencies                                                                                                                                                                           

 

project roadmap elements

A project map is extremely important if you have lots of variables to keep track of. It can be difficult to keep track of the project progress while managing the team members, as well as internal and external stakeholders. This is where a project roadmap comes in handy.

The roadmap offers a bird’s eye view of the entire project without cramping it with extra details. The project roadmap serves as a critical tool for the project managers who have to keep track of the key deliverables and keep the stakeholders informed.

Overall, a visual roadmap is essential for those who want the big picture of the project without going in-depth. As a highly visual document, it can also help identify the different stages in a project that requires your most attention so that you can divide the tasks amongst your employees accordingly.

A product roadmap is similar to a project roadmap. However, the product roadmap offers an overview of the entire product instead of individual projects.

Research conducted by KMPG reports that only one in three organizations develop projects that align with their stakeholders’ expectations. This dissatisfaction occurs because the teams cannot accommodate minor changes in the project without deviating from the original strategic goals. In this way, project teams lose their productivity.

However, a project roadmap can help avoid this miscommunication by ensuring everyone knows the important components of the project and what steps will be taken to execute it properly.

What should a project roadmap include?

When project managers roadmap a project, they focus on the project’s objectives and its key components. A good project roadmap fits one page. However, it should be descriptive enough to show all the elements of your project clearly.

These are some key elements of a good project roadmap:

Project Overview

A project overview describes all the project objectives and priorities for every initiative you take. It shouldn’t be very long. A couple of sentences will suffice. It should clearly describe what your project is about and what it hopes to achieve.

Schedule Overview

The project schedule showcases what the general timeline looks like and maps out all the initiatives. It also shows the hard deadlines that your team members need to meet to fulfill project objectives. In this way, your team will already know how much time is available to complete a task and what they will be doing next.

Important Milestones

What does your project aim to achieve? How will you bring value to your project stakeholders? The milestone section answers these questions. It also shows the important dates that your team should consider. This is because many tasks are interlinked with each other. Delay in completing one task can cause a delay in another task.

Dependencies

A project management roadmap is incomplete without describing how the separate deliverables are connected and how they contribute to the overall success of a project. By describing the dependencies, you can also showcase how important it is for the teams to meet the project goals, allowing other objectives to be fulfilled.

Resource Allocation

You also need to describe the cost required for the project, together with the human resources. In this way, as a project manager, you will know who to involve in different tasks and how the resources available to the organization will be divided.

Key Contacts

Your project team should also know the key stakeholders involved in the project and who they should contact for specific information. This is particularly helpful if the project manager is unavailable and the team is stuck with project phases.

Possible Risks

A good project roadmap also shows the potential risks that may come along during the project’s life. The project team should map these risks to create a risk management plan eventually.

Now that you know what a project roadmap is and what should be included, let’s explore how to create one.

project team

How do you create a roadmap for a project?

Below are key steps describing how to create an effective project map for your team:

1. Pick a project management software

When selecting a roadmap tool, make sure you know what your priorities are. Determine the number of users you will have using the same application, the database space you need, and other features that should be part of the tool, such as privacy tools.

A roadmap tool determines how well your roadmap will look. Project management software determines the data you can put together, track, and visualize easily.

You can also use multiple project management software together by integrating them on a single platform. For instance,  a time tracking software like TimeCamp can help you plan and track project timelines, manage deadlines, distribute tasks, and optimize the workflow.

TimeCamp team time tracker attendance

TimeCamp is particularly useful if you have a remote workforce or field employees. Using this application, you can calculate your employees’ working hours, create essential reports, track progress, and handle multiple projects together. Therefore, having project management software can be invaluable.

Ready to try TimeCamp? Sigp up!

2. Define your project objectives

A successful project requires descriptive project objectives. Therefore, your project roadmap should have well-defined objectives that show what you aim to achieve and how you will fulfill your goals. In this way, your team will determine if the project goals are being fulfilled or not.

Variables that you might have to describe include:

  • Project scope
  • Target audience
  • Key stakeholders
  • Resources required

You should clearly define all of these objectives before you start working actually.

3. Identify Data Points

You need to identify what data you will need to keep track of the objectives. You can also describe what data you will require to perform further tasks. This will establish connectivity between different tasks and shape your project roadmap.

4. Construct a project timeline

Construct a viable and realistic timeline for your project by planning out how long it might take for your team to fulfill their tasks and for the entire project to come together. You can lay out all the milestones on a calendar to build the timeline.

The most important part of project management is building a project timeline. Without constructing an elaborative schedule, you won’t be able to keep track of your project’s progress.

Some project managers also like to create multiple project timelines with different deadlines as part of their crisis management plan.

5. Pick a project roadmap template

There are tons of templates available on the internet for project roadmaps. You can google the project roadmap templates and pick one that suits your needs. Some project management software also comes integrated with free templates that you can use easily.

6. Create a rough mockup of your project roadmap

Once you have chosen a project roadmap tool and template, described the major elements, and created a timeline, you can construct the roadmap. You can describe the task dependencies to line up one task after another, place data points with each task, and set a deadline.

7. Review the roadmap

Once you have created a rough mockup of your project roadmap, you should take its holistic view and determine if it aligns with your overarching goals.

Is the project’s scope showcased through a roadmap?

Is all the data considered when constructing it?

Does this project roadmap serve the stakeholders’ needs?

You need to answer all of these questions when reviewing your roadmap.

8. Construct the final project roadmap

With your project roadmap reviewed, you can make final changes and show it to your team. Your team might recommend some additions or subtractions in the roadmap. You should consider them and finalize the roadmap to start working on the project.

9. Discuss the plan with the stakeholders

The project roadmap provides a holistic outline of the entire project and its progress. Your stakeholders will be interested in knowing whether the progress is running smoothly or not. A project roadmap is what you can show them to describe how your team is working and when they would expect the final results.

10. Keep on updating your project roadmap

Although you might have started working on the project already with a basic roadmap constructed, it’s important to remember that it can change a little bit. You don’t have to change the project’s main goals, but there can be changes in the task delegation, timeline, and requirements of resources. You need to make all the changes as the project progress so that it runs smoothly.

Conclusion

A project roadmap is a visual overview of a project from a strategic point of view. It gives a visual outlook of all the key elements, tasks, and timelines to the project team and stakeholders involved.

Well-defined project roadmaps describe the work progress at any point in time, the resources used to meet the project’s goals, and whether the project will fulfill all its objectives.

In this way, project roadmaps are essential for organizations, especially if they want to showcase the project’s progress to their stakeholders. It also helps in ensuring the project teams are working in line with the project’s overarching goals.

To construct a good project roadmap, you will first need to choose a planning software, describe all the key objectives of your project, and decide the project’s lifecycle. You can create a rough mockup with all the elements and review it. It’s important to determine if your roadmap meets the stakeholder expectations and fulfills your organization’s agenda.

Once you have created a full-fletch roadmap, you can start working on it. You might have to make changes to it as the project goes on. But you must consider these changes and take your team’s feedback into account.

So what are you waiting for? If you have a project to run, construct a roadmap today.

Start with picking a planning tool such as TimeCamp that can help you meet all your objectives well ahead of the deadline and keep track of everyone’s progress.

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