What is a project roadmap?
A project roadmap is like a map used for completing projects. It presents an overview of the main goals and objectives of a project along a timeline in a graphical format. However, the project roadmap is different from a project plan as it does not include the fine details of every step. The roadmap does not include details but only the main points and must be made simple. It is a very useful tool for project management and offers several advantages like efficient resource management and team communication. The roadmap also comes with its own distinct set of challenges. However, considering the advantages it offers in terms of timely completion of projects and efficient use of resources, the project roadmap is a very useful tool for project managers.
In general a project roadmap includes the following:
- It covers the main goals and objectives of the project.
- It includes the timeline of the project and the schedule.
- It also covers important milestones of the project and deliverables.
- Apart from the above listed components, it includes the risks of the project and dependencies (interrelated tasks).
Why should project managers create a project roadmap?
Project managers must use a roadmap to keep track of the several variables and for managing tasks more efficiently. Apart from that, it helps at managing the distribution of work among the team members. Projects can be complex and managers can feel confused and lost keeping track of various tasks, resources, dates, and ideas.
It is true that the project roadmap does not get into finer details but still it provides a simple yet clear overview of the project. Especially, when it comes to keeping the stakeholders informed regarding the important developments over the course of the project, it can be a very handy tool. If the project manager wants to develop a more comprehensive project plan, even then it proves to be useful. Anyone who needs a macro level view of the project will find the roadmap useful.
How does project roadmap assist project managers?
Communicating goals to team members:
A project roadmap is a very useful tool for a project manager when it comes to communicating with team members about the goals and objectives of the project. It presents the goals and objectives of the project in a graphical format.
Project managers can create visually appealing roadmaps that they can use to help their team members learn about the goals and objectives of the project. It will also help to assign the team members specific tasks and roles and thus maintain their focus on particular tasks.
The team members will find it easier to estimate the time required to complete each of the various tasks. A project can be divided into various stages and the time required to complete each stage can be outlined in the roadmap. It also helps your team members keep everything on track and they can use the roadmap whenever they feel like they are losing track.
Establishing the priority of tasks:
As already outlined, a project roadmap does not include the minute details but only the important tasks and milestones. Project managers can highlight the most important parts of the project on the roadmap. Thus, they can set the priority of tasks and the order in which they can be completed and highlight the ones needing higher attention and more efforts.
Stakeholder satisfaction is also an important consideration for the project managers. However, there are very few organizations that develop projects whose likelihood of maximizing stakeholder satisfaction is higher. The most common reason behind stakeholder dissatisfaction is the project team’s inability to accommodate minor changes during the execution process. Projects may deviate from their original course causing the loss of productivity.
Communicating with the stakeholders while the project is underway is important for the project managers. With the help of a project roadmap, the project managers can avoid miscommunication with stakeholders including the project management team.
It helps ensure that every one involved is on the same track and apart from that the manager can inform all the stakeholders about the steps that were taken during the project.
It is also important to keep the stakeholders in the loop and update them regarding any risks early. This will also help minimize stakeholder dissatisfaction.
How to create an effective project roadmap?
A project roadmap assists at streamlining processes. It can improve the project team’s productivity and help complete tasks according to the schedule apart from helping to minimize the wastage of time and resources. Some crucial things that project managers must keep in mind before creating a roadmap include holding a kick off meeting, collecting all the necessary information related to the project and creating a timeline. Here are some tips for project manager to develop great roadmaps:
- A project roadmap is an important tool that supports crucial decisions during the execution of a project. It must include clear and precise information so as to support decision making throughout the process.
- Set realistic goals and include them in the roadmap. A roadmap should not include unrealistic goals since in that case instead of simplifying processes it would only make them more and more complex. Setting unachievable goals or too tight deadlines will only lead to cost overruns which is generally the case with the large and more complex projects. It will only unnecessarily delay the project.
- Project managers must prioritize deliverables on the basis of dependencies and business objectives.
- The team members should keep each other updated regarding the progress and stick to the roadmap.
- Project managers must include and highlight the contacts of the people responsible for various tasks so that it is easy to reach them whenever required.
- Project managers must also update the roadmap frequently. Sometimes schedules can change and give rise to fresh risks which must be updated on the roadmap and shared with the stakeholders.
Suggested Reading: Hurdles to the adoption of a project management methodology