How to create a product roadmap with no dates
November 18, 2018
November 18, 2018
Early stage product teams move fast and jump on opportunities to deliver features as quickly as they hear about them. As a result, often start ups do not see the value in doing a product roadmap as they are focused on the day to day tasks needed to go from 0 to 1 for paid customers. In addition, not all teams like date driven product roadmaps because the reality is we are all human and we get sick, we have personal emergencies and our priorities change so especially for smaller teams, it can be hard to layout a timeline and meet it exactly. This leaves small product teams in a tough place in that without product planning, they will not make the best decisions for the product but they need to balance this with a full blown visual product roadmap as for them it may be viewed as overkill and not maintainable. So where do they go from there? No date product roadmaps of course!
What is a no date product roadmap? This approach to a product roadmap works with ballpark timelines of your features instead of using exact dates to define what you plan to work on and when. This approach allows for a simple timeline concept of Now, Soon or Future as a working guideline of what features you should work on and in what order. By doing this approach, you are not committing to a specific release or window that a feature will be delivered but lets you quickly see what features are in your backlog and allows a product manager to communicate the priorities across the team in which order they should be worked on. Often, you can use a concept of a parking lot as well if you have backlog items that fall even further outside of the new, soon or future concept which will park them for the far distant future.
Within your feature board you can use the timeline to build a working product roadmap and quickly move features from one timeline to the next if priorities change. This does not commit you to a specific date where you need to have a feature delivered but again let’s you communicate across your teams what will be coming to level set expectations. As teams mature and can organize their features into releases and need to start setting dates and timelines than you can move over to the more traditional view of a visual product roadmap but this no date approach is a great first step to getting into product management with your team.
At the end of the day, whomever is playing the role of product manager needs to have visibility to all of the features on the table so they can start to prioritize them to ensure you work on them in the best order possible. If you are a team not ready to set dates, don’t let that stop you from doing a product roadmap but instead build one that does not require dates and you will immediately see an improvement in your teams visibility in the product vision.