When big companies hold meetings, you can expect a lot of lofty phrases like “aligning goals” or “cross-departmental collaboration.” But what do those words actually mean? How do you make sure that your team is indeed aligned on project goals? This is where roadmapping comes in.
💡 Before you start… Roadmapping is a cornerstone of effective project management. Don’t forget to check about other project management strategies when you’re done reading.
- 🏉 What Is Scrum Agile Project Management?
- 🧠 Here’s Why Your Team Needs Collaborative Mind Mapping Software
- ✅ Getting Things Done (GTD) Workflows for Remote Teams
🛣️ What Is a Roadmap?
Nope, we’re talking about the good ol’ analog version of Google Maps. Simply put, a roadmap is an overview of a project, complete with project goals and project objectives that are usually visualized on a timeline. A roadmap gives project teams a better understanding of:
- 🤔 The “what.” The tasks your team needs to complete
- 👥 The “who.” The people who are involved in the project
- 🗓️ The “when.” The project deadline and milestones
Want to tell your team what the objective is and how you’ll all get there? A roadmap is the answer. Using our Google Maps analogy, a project roadmap tells you which route to choose (so you don’t run into roadblocks) and how long it’s going to take to complete the trip.(2)
And the best part? Roadmaps are super flexible. It doesn’t matter if your “destination” is a special project, a new product, or even an entirely new business. You can quickly customize the roadmap format with goals, tasks, and time frames to get a head start on every project.
You can use roadmaps for developing marketing campaigns, planning projects, or charting a business strategy for your startup. That’s as long as you’re ok with visual-first workflows.
And speaking of visuals, aren’t roadmaps strikingly similar to Gantt charts?
Roadmaps vs. Gantt Charts
Don’t worry, the two are often confused and many people use the name interchangeably. And we get it, it’s a fair comparison. Both provide a high-level overview of project increments, goals, and deadlines. Both set milestones that help teams navigate the project lifecycle.
But there are a few key differences. 👇
A Gantt chart is a bar chart that shows a detailed schedule of tasks within one project. It presents a schedule in a linear way, with tasks organized sequentially. Think of it as a visual checklist that makes it much easier to track and complete tasks, one step at a time.(3)
While Gantt charts help teams understand how to execute a plan, roadmaps focus more on the why part of project management. The roadmap is more like an introduction that sets the groundwork including the project timeline for upcoming projects and communicates the reasoning behind them.(4)
We’re clear on what a roadmap is and how it is different from a Gantt Chart. But do you actually need one? If so, what types of projects can benefit from a little roadmapping magic?
🤔 Does Your Team Need a Roadmap? (Hint: Yes)
How many times did you kick off a meeting or new project and realized your project team doesn’t know where they’re going? If that sounds familiar, a roadmap will help you communicate goals and objectives before bringing your team for the ride.
But roadmapping has a ton of other benefits:
- 🤝 Accountability: A roadmap keeps your team accountable. It shows every team member what project role they play and what impact they have on the project outcome.
- ➕ Alignment: Roadmaps keep all team members aligned toward a single goal. This is especially important for remote-first organizations that collaborate across time zones.
- 👁️ Clarity: Every team needs a bird’s-eye view of all the products it’s working on. Roadmapping provides just that—a high-level overview of the project situation.
- 💬 Communication: Effective communication is the bedrock of every (successful) project. Roadmaps facilitate communication by answering key questions (our whys) early on.
- 🚀 Prioritization: Roadmapping forces you to visualize and decide on what is truly important. This, in turn, makes it much easier to prioritize work and make tough decisions.
- 👥 Strategy: Roadmapping is a great way to clarify a business strategy. You can easily share objectives with key stakeholders and make sure everybody is in the know.
So, to sum it up, yes, you and your team need a roadmap. The question is, how to create a roadmap that will serve its purpose instead of becoming an aesthetic but useless decoration?
🌟 What Makes a Good Roadmap?
As we mentioned before, the main purpose of roadmapping is to enable and improve internal communication. A good roadmap should show your team how project initiatives align with overarching business goals and explain individual roles within the project.
Once you’ve assigned someone as a project manager, you will need a few other key ingredients to achieve your project goals.
Flexibility and Customizability
Don’t make the mistake of treating your roadmap as a static document. Look at it instead as a customizable template that everyone can embrace and tweak as needed.
Strategizing tends to be complex. If a carefully planned vacation can have a lot of unexpected bumps down the road, then that is even more true for a new venture or a special project.
Even the most well-thought-out project roadmaps will likely encounter problems down the line. But if your roadmap is flexible, you’ll be able to counter those obstacles and correct course when needed.
Collaboration and Communication
Want to make sure that everyone is on the same page? Involve them in making the train and the tracks from the get-go! As you make the roadmap, involve your team members early on.
The best way to convince others to passionately implement the strategy is to include them in its construction in the first place. Listen to suggestions, feedback, and objections and always try to create opportunities for productive discussions. The input will come in handy later on.
Trust is a two-way street so show your project team you believe in their abilities. You’ll end up with a truly inspiring roadmap that’ll get the team to hit the ground running according to the project schedule.
Make sure that your team is aligned with the project objectives and product roadmap so that you can better manage stakeholder expectations as well.
Remember that a roadmap is a visual-first tool. It should let your team quickly grasp what their role is and how they will contribute to the project just by looking at the chart.
In terms of visual elements, a roadmap should show all the moving parts of a project and position them in a wider context. Elements like milestones and key dates allow for a linear visualization that the team can use to keep track of the plan’s progress.
Don’t forget to use colors and shapes to make it easier for the team to navigate the roadmap. You’re telling a story that needs to be both informative and engaging.
Now that we’ve gone through the elements of a good roadmap, let’s discuss the steps you need to take to make an effective roadmap for your business.
🐑 How Do You Build a Roadmap with Taskade?
With the goals and objectives in place, it’s time to use a roadmapping tool (wink, wink Taskade) to build the roadmap. If you don’t have a Taskade account, create one for free here.
1. Assess Where Your Organization Is Today
Start by assessing where your business stands today. Roadmaps are all about setting a direction, but you can’t reach your destination without knowing where you are.
Are your current efforts helping you achieve your business objectives? It may also be helpful to assess how you’re utilizing and prioritizing business resources. Make sure you set clear project milestones so that you can celebrate the wins with your team and keep them motivated.
Roadmapping With Taskade #1 🐑
With the Project in place, Taskade will provide you with a link you can copy and share with the other members of your team. Alternatively, click the Share button to invite other people.
2. Set Clear Goals
Now, ask yourself where exactly do you want your business to end up. Are you aiming to expand your market share, increase your revenue, or make product improvements?
Roadmapping With Taskade #2 🐑
To add your Project to the Roadmap, set a due date inside your Workspace. Once added, the Project will automatically show up on your Roadmap (with a corresponding Project icon).
Having multiple projects on your plate can be overwhelming. Our Roadmap feature lets you track all moving parts by simply adding due dates to all relevant Projects. Keep track of your project schedule to make sure that the results are delivered on time.
3. Engage Your Audience (Team)
To continue the metaphor of directions, your next step is to set actual milestones and determine the steps your team needs to take to achieve them. But that’s not all.
Remember, the goal is to tell a story that will captivate your audience (team). Use as many visual elements as possible and customize each project to maximize its effectiveness.
Roadmapping With Taskade #3 🐑
Taskade lets you customize roadmaps on the Project level. You can format tasks and sub-tasks, add colors, and choose between headings, numbered lists, shapes, and more.
But there’s more. You can also organize Projects with clickable hashtags. Add a #tag anywhere inside the Project to create an interactive reference point for filtering project contents.
If you feel like roadmapping can be valuable for your company, Taskade will help you get started as quickly as possible. No need for a steep learning curve, or an entire tech stack of apps just to keep track of your roadmap. Manage projects and communicate with your team using one simple tool!