These days, remote working is becoming the new normal. There are so many benefits to it, but there are challenges too. As a team, you’ll be working on a project together but it’s harder to collaborate when you’re not in the same room.
That’s where an effective roadmap comes in. If you put a good roadmap together, you can create a plan that everyone can be on board with. Here’s some tips on creating effective roadmaps, so everyone knows what needs to be done.
The importance of roadmaps
Before creating a roadmap, you need to understand just how important they are to your project. It’s crucial when you’re working remotely’ says product manager James Rowley at Writinity and Draft Beyond. ‘It helps everyone keep their eye on the big picture, and keeps all important info in one place.’
You’ll also easily be able to keep track of changes with a roadmap. As it’s updated all the time, it’s going to keep everyone in the loop.
Make the roadmap available online
The problem with creating a roadmap on a static document, such as PDF, is that things change all the time. If you’re using static documents, it creates copies and duplicates as you’re updating it. That makes it hard for those in your team to find the correct document to work from.
That’s why it’s important to keep an open document available online. As this is the only document, there’s no confusion about where it is and whether it’s the right one. Using an online tool with a collaborative feature, such as the Google suite will work perfectly for this.
Updates can be made in real-time, and anyone can access the document whenever they need to. It keeps everyone in the loop so make sure your roadmap is easily accessible.
Make the document easy to understand
Anyone can put together a roadmap, but to make it a useful tool, it needs to be easily understood. There are many people out there who have put documents together with lots of arrows and text boxes, but it doesn’t seem to mean much.
As such, you need to make the document visually easy to follow and understand. The idea of using themes is a good one, as ideas are grouped together into those themes, making it easier to find what you need in the document.
Good themes will help show the ‘whys’ of the development process, so there are clear end goals. Keep this in mind when developing your roadmap.
There’s going to be a lot on the roadmap that needs to be done, especially at the beginning. As such, it’s hard to know where to start. That’s where you come in as the manager, prioritizing the tasks in the document.
When including any task on the document, you should take a look and see which ones need to be handled first. Sort the tasks into high, medium and low priority, and color code them as such. Your team will be able to see what needs to be done first, at a glance.
You also have the option to group tasks by teams or status, too. For example, you can code a task as in progress, completed, or not yet started. You may need to experiment to see what works for you and your team, so try them out and see what works.
Keep meeting up with your team
As you’re not working in the same room together, you’re not always going to be on the same page when it comes to the project. That’s the case even when you have a good roadmap. To ensure that everyone is on track, it’s important to schedule regular meetings.
Use these meetings to discuss what is being done, and whether any changes need to be made to the roadmap itself. It helps you all collaborate on the project and see if you’re all on track. If not, then changes can be made then and there.
Focus On Progress
As you’re all working remotely, it’s harder to focus on a concrete end date for your work. When you’re all apart, there are many things that will get in the way of that date. As such, it’s much better to focus on the progress that’s being made.
That’s something that can easily be done with a roadmap. ‘Your team can see exactly how much they’ve accomplished when they check the roadmap’ says remote work blogger Kelly Bowers from Research Papers UK. ‘With that map, they have a sense of how much they’ve done, and what they’ve managed to achieve.’ It’s much easier to visualise what you’ve done when you can lay it out in that document.
Don’t Be Afraid Of Change
Once you’ve made the roadmap, it’s easy to imagine that everything on there is set in stone. However, when working on any project that isn’t the case. Priorities shift, things go wrong, and you have to adapt accordingly.
If you’ve created the roadmap on an online platform, it’s very easy to make the changes needed on there. Remember, it’s a living document that will change and adapt as the project does. This is especially true if you’re working on a long term project, as there’s always going to be something that needs to be changed.
When any task is updated in the roadmap, ensure that you’re tracking milestones. If your team accomplishes something big, then you can celebrate that. It’s hard to see that bigger picture when you’re working remotely, so keep on top of them and ensure you’re celebrating the hard work your team are doing.
With these tips, you’ll be able to create a roadmap that makes sense to you and your entire remote team. The best roadmaps are easily accessible and easy to read. They make it so much easier for everyone to stay on track, so use them to your advantage.
Read more on product roadmaps. Explore our Content A-Z for even more product management insights.