In this series of posts, I’ll describe the Roadmap Integrity Process. In a nutshell, it’s a way of transforming a list of vague and often, half-baked ideas for new features, enhancements, and even engineering/architecture work, into a solid operating plan that accounts for execution risk.
The process is designed to be simple and lightweight: there’s almost no additional documentation, and requires very little additional time to maintain once the initial list is complete.
To illustrate, consider these proposed features for a hypothetical product:
As you can see, they are all over the map, ranging from reasonably specific to the terribly vague, from very end-user-focused to very technical. You can probably see why it requires relatively little effort to create a list like this: obviously very little time has been spent fleshing out the details!
Each row in this list is technically not a project; it’s a candidate project because you haven’t yet decided to commit to it; that comes later. I’ll use the term “project” below to make things easier to read.
When the process is complete, a few days or weeks later (depending on how many projects you have and how much concentrated time you spend on it), you have something like this:
The chart shows projects mapped in a bubble chart:
- Estimated cost/effort on the horizontal axis. The scale is calibrated differently for everyone; it’s defined on a relative basis based on historical projects. (The concept is very similar to T-Shirt Sizing.)
- Bubble size estimated business impact. The bigger the bubble, the more impact the project is estimated to have.
- Estimated uncertainty/risk on the vertical axis. Uncertainty is the secret sauce of the Roadmap Integrity Process: not because I can’t tell you what it is, but because it’s what makes the process truly unique and valuable. The uncertainty for each project is the sum of the uncertainty across all relevant functional teams: project management, development, QA, product support, field sales support, etc. The more uncertainty, the more execution risk for the project, and the more caution and planning is necessary, should you decide to proceed. Here, I explain more about uncertainty.
Note that the axes have been inverted: cheaper, lower-risk projects are at the upper right; more expensive higher-risk projects are at the lower left. Why? Because now we can classify projects into quadrants:
By definition, the biggest bubbles in the green are the ones you can start with the least risk and cost. Of course you don’t want to ignore the big bubbles in the red and yellow quadrants: those projects, by definition, are the ones that can have the biggest impact against your business. These are the potential “game changers” for your business. (It’s often what others label “innovation” when looking from the rear view mirror.) In this post I explain more about this dynamic, in what I call “moving the bubbles towards the green.”
The takeaway? There is a low-impact way to plan and prioritize the projects which will generate maximum business value: The Roadmap Integrity Process.
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