Roadmapping: Implementing Strategy

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Roadmaps change and fluctuate based on strategy, capacity and based on what was and what wasn’t delivered, but it is important to know manage your roadmap against the business needs, not the calendar.   To that end, I just took a video on demand session a couple of weeks ago or so in my spare time, but I wanted to get it done since in fact I’m starting a new gig and more education is always a good thing.  So with a little extra time on my calendar lately, I was able to sit through the Pragmatic Roadmapping session which was a very reasonable online course which made me think a bunch about planning and managing successfully towards a strategic initiative.

Roadmaps: The Vision Translator

Everyone wants to be a visionary and create a roadmap isn’t the time for vision – it is time for distillation of the existing strategy goals, plans and vision.    Another way to look at it is sometimes you just need to manage the business to get things done and as product manager with little authority, but all the accountability having an executive approved artifact can be a good tool to get everyone aligned.  Ultimately, The roadmap should connect strategy to execution –  where big ideas meet math, time and priority.    Strategy translated into revenue is the roadmap, revenue goals aligned to delivery time lines are releases and features to drive revenue are sprint, iterations or builds – whatever it is in your software shop.

Release Plans are Roadmap Derivatives

I got to start some release planning at the old gig and realized that it appeared that we jumped from big ideas to features.   In this mode, roadmaps are schedules, not strategic plans or commitments.  Don’t get me wrong, release planning is a vital step in delivering on the strategic goals and visions for the business and is a very exciting time, but it should be how you translate an agree to plan into action.

Roadmaps: Committing to the Business, Committing to the Market and your Customers

Growth is one of the most exciting things to pursue in technology, but requires plans, deliverables, commitments and accountability.   This is where the roadmap fits in.  Many organizations invest significant time and energy into revitalizing their strategy, but often fall back into the quarterly or semi-annual release planning mode and not looking at the deliverables required to position successful growth.  Revenue, dates, systems, people, products and customers are all part of the roadmap development.

The video which Steve presented covers not just delivering features and time lines, but focuses on connecting strategy to project/tactics.  One way to look at a roadmap just might be as a commitment for product managers to the business and a tool for prioritizing delivery.  The roadmap essentially becomes the contract which product managers manage against to ensure they are driving towards the desired goals and deliverables for the business.

If this is of interest to you, you can use the following discount code for $100 off – S06RM09.  I think it was originally god for like 30 days and due to my slacking there is probably only like 7 days left – so get on it!

Overall it was a very productive session on focusing on delivering on the strategic themes for the business…it definitely made me think more about roadmaps than I have in a long time.  Many thank to the folks at Pragmatic Marketing for putting this together and letting me share with y’all a little discount.

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  • Reply jon gatrell May 31, 2009 at 8:21 am

    Roadmapping: Implementing Strategy: Roadmaps change and fluctuate based on strategy, capacity and based on what ..

  • Reply bob corrigan May 31, 2009 at 10:53 am

    “Roadmaps change” is as good a truism as “s__t happens”. And admit it, it’s the promo for the webinar that sold you. 🙂

  • Reply Jon Gatrell May 31, 2009 at 11:33 am

    glad you were reading it bob, the point is most people think big ideas and feature delivery/release planning are enough. Of course it could be an extremely poorly written piece which didn’t make the point I had hoped.

    As for the the promo code, I committed to passing it on to Jim. The problem is I slacked for 2+ weeks and didn’t get the overview out and decided today was the day to do it formally. I had tweeted it and put into the ProductAtlanta post, but I would consider that weak in respect to doing what I said I would do. Perhaps my piece was weak too.

    But to go back to the trueism – most folks think they change for things out of their control or understanding, at least those that do the work. The reality is it is a process and if the roadmap is “always” changing then PM isn’t doing their job managing up or across the organization, minimally or doing the work required to understand the market and manage the business.

    From my experience, one of the key things PM’s can provide to the business is a sanity check that helps accomplish things. Ultimately I write this blog not just for seasoned folks like you and I, but for the person that wants to be a PM, just became one or doesn’t understand what PM does. So not all topics are going to be insightful, some might be DUH! I hope ultimately this was less duh and a little insightful while helping out folks I like.

    I was sold on pragmatic marketing in 2000 when I took my first course from Steve and I think everyone needs to put a formal process or framework in place for PM in their business, since I’m unaware of an MBA’s with concentrations in Product Management or any formal multi-course curriculum on product management in colleges which is sorely needed and these guys did it. Kudos to them and perhaps ZigZag, although I haven’t seen their work and their process is just a little high brow for me based on my limited understanding. But I am busted, I would like to save folks $100 if I could. Sharing I think is a good thing.


  • Reply bob corrigan May 31, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    The piece wasn’t weak, I’m just being glib 🙂 It’s appalling how poorly roadmapping as a PM process is understood outside of the trade. It’s the cornerstone of our strategic value to organizations.

    When I have to describe it for the executive caste, I describe roadmapping like your headlights – they reveal progressively more of the land ahead as you move ahead, and you’ve got two settings for different needs – regular and “brights” – to reflect near term and long term goals. Thinking of “roadmapping” as a verb and not a noun (a distinction the seminar makes wonderfully) helps prodmgmt to set appropriate expectations.

    It’s a fact of life that you modify your long-term expectations based on what you learn in the near- to medium-term. That’s where the truism lives.

  • Reply Jon Gatrell May 31, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    you’re glib, i’m defensive. This is going to be a lovely relationship 😉

    Touche! Thanks for the follow up and the comments.



  • Reply Mike Boudreaux May 31, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    Funny, I was just talking to a friend in sales last night about how he’s frustrated that his product managers keep changing their direction. Commitment to the roadmap is pretty important to stakeholders.

  • Reply Steve Johnson June 1, 2009 at 7:19 am


    Thanks for your comments on our Pragmatic Roadmapping video. Roadmapping continues to be a big concern to product managers and to executives. More often than not, product roadmaps are a collection of feature commitments absent any strategy… which is why I focused on getting people to think about markets, initiatives, and financial impact.

    Oh, and Bob C provided the voice-over on the promo, in case you didn’t know… explaining why he thinks the promo is so great. (And it IS great, Bob. Thanks.)

  • Reply bob corrigan June 3, 2009 at 9:12 am

    Hey, it’s great for a number of reasons. I’m particularly fond of “Pragmatic Marketing’s own Jim Foxworthy”, it sounds like “TV’s Uncle Buck”.

  • Reply Cecil Ledesma June 7, 2009 at 6:12 pm

    Roadmapping: Implementing Strategy | spatially relevant –

  • Reply Stewart Rogers June 11, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    this is one of the better posts on roadmaps I have read: #prodmgmt — kudos @spatially

  • Reply Elaine Chen June 11, 2009 at 4:54 pm

    RT @StewartRogers this is one of the better posts on roadmaps I have read: #prodmgmt — kudos @spatially

  • Reply jon gatrell June 11, 2009 at 4:56 pm

    thanks man! RT @StewartRogers: this is one of the better posts on roadmaps I have read: #prodmgmt — kudos @spatially

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