Roadmaps are a great way to showcase your product and communicate future updates to your users. But the specific type of roadmap you use matters too. Let’s discuss agile frameworks, the benefits of agile product roadmaps and the best way to create your perfect agile roadmap with and without UserVitals.
What Is Agile?
Agile methodology is a framework that focuses on development and testing by breaking your project’s process into smaller sections. It is incremental and highly flexible, allowing you to change your process over time due to feedback.
These sections or iterations are broken down over a specific time period, often based on value. The end goal of each iteration is to produce a working product. In Agile, it’s very important that everyone works together to keep the product aligned with your company’s goals and your client’s needs.
Learn more about Agile and how it differs from Scrum on ScrumGenius' blog.
Why Use Agile Roadmaps?
Agile roadmaps are great for creating a plan of action for how your product will evolve over time and communicating that plan to users and shareholders. It provides a timeline and context for future updates and will be responsive and adaptable for changes as they come.
Agile product roadmaps come with many benefits. Here are a few of them.
First and foremost, agile roadmaps help product teams communicate their product strategy to users, other teams and shareholders all together. This means everyone involved in your product can easily get information on future updates and changes without having to come to you directly for information, giving you more time to focus on the product itself.
Agile involves a lot of planning. Creating an agile roadmap will help your team think strategically and map out the future of your product, giving you a better view of your end goal. This in turn can help you foresee any possible changes and adapt to them more easily.
Highlight Key Focus Areas
Agile roadmaps allow you to focus more on what’s really important. By planning strategically and mapping out high-priority themes, you can get a better idea of which areas may need more help or more resources.
How to Build an Agile Roadmap
Building an agile roadmap is much like building other types of product roadmaps, but here are some key ideas to keep in mind when building yours.
Focus on Strategy and Themes
Agile roadmaps are high-level and strategic, with a focus on your product’s overall vision and goals. Defining your vision helps you articulate the problems your product will solve in your chosen industry, and your strategy will outline exactly how you plan on solving those problems.
This high-level approach also means that if you focus too much on features, your roadmap can become overloaded and therefore less useful. By focusing on themes instead of individual features, you can help simplify your product and keep your goals within reach. Features will exist within these themes, but do not need to be as detailed as they would be with other roadmap types.
Talking to customers can be a great way to figure out the themes to structure your roadmap around—more on that later.
Understand Objectives and KPIs
The strategic approach of agile means that your roadmapping process will start by outlining key objectives you want to achieve. These objectives will be crucial for planning next and future steps for your product and helping you keep an eye on your progress.
Likewise, you’ll need measurable KPIs in order to measure your progress as well. This will help you know whether you’re on track to hitting your goals and achieving your product’s vision.
Revisit Product Vision
Your product vision is the core of your product roadmap. Revisiting it as you create your agile roadmap and keeping it in mind will help you plan out longer-term objectives and goals that align with your vision so you can stay on track.
Talk to Customers For User Stories
It’s a good idea for everyone involved with your product to speak to your customers and users, but product managers in particular must connect with users in order to understand their needs and problems. Knowing these details can help shape your roadmap and future goals as it will give you a better idea of what to prioritize and focus on—including roadmap themes.
Once you’ve mapped out your themes, identified objectives and spoken to customers, you’ll need to figure out which parts of your roadmap to prioritize and give more focus to. Some parts of your product will need more people, attention or resources in general—and you’ll have to plan for that.
This prioritization can be done by customer demand, ranking themes, and much more.
Agile Roadmap Tips
Now that we’ve discussed how to build and update your roadmap, let’s go over some of our top tips for creating your best roadmap.
Focus on Goals and Outcomes
With agile product roadmaps, you’ll need to stay focused on your goals and product vision to stay on track. While working with many different themes and features, it’s important to keep your end goal in view to stay on track.
Likewise, agile environments are often used in dynamic environments or industries, where your roadmap may have to change to adapt to your market. While features and themes may change, your end goal will generally stay the same and can therefore act as something to center your work around.
Keep It Simple
It’s easy to get overwhelmed and let your roadmap get too crowded or unfocused. This can also make it hard to decide what tasks or features to prioritize, slowing down your progress.
Keeping your roadmap high-level and as simple as possible will help you stay on track towards reaching your goals.
Frequent Communication Is Critical
With agile roadmaps, communication is critical. You may have to deal with frequent changes and updates, and this needs to be communicated in your roadmap.
Similarly, if you’re a product manager, it’s your job to keep up to date with all of the different teams on your product to make sure everyone is on track. Keeping those lines of communication open is critical to the well-running of your product.
As we’ve already mentioned, updating your roadmap as changes come is crucial. Your product should never be static and unchanging, and that has to be reflected in your roadmap.
This necessary flexibility also means that your roadmap needs to be easy to change. Your roadmap software or platform should allow you to make quick, easy updates to your roadmap as they come.
Agile roadmaps require frequent communication, but they also require good collaboration between the different groups on your product and between your product team and its customers. In order to sufficiently meet your goals and address the problems you want your product to solve, you’ll have to work alongside your development and design teams and listen to your users’ needs.
Depending on your product and its size, there are other teams that you may need to collaborate with, such as financial teams and legal teams. Your roadmap will be an important tool in keeping everyone up-to-date on your product.
Building Agile Roadmaps with UserVitals
UserVitals makes it easy to build and maintain an agile roadmap for your product and monitor feedback throughout your journey to stay informed.
We help you automatically collect user feedback from several different sources, such as a website widget, customer portal and via integrations like Slack, Intercom and Gmail, as well as manually upload feedback through our site or via our Google Chrome Extension. These individual pieces of feedback, known as Insights, can be grouped and organized any way you like into Stories—for instance, by theme or feature within a theme.
These Stories can then be used to create your product roadmap. While we section our roadmaps by status (up next, in progress and completed), you can add tags and labels to your roadmap items to reflect the different themes they fall under.
Furthermore, we keep our roadmaps high level by only showing labels and titles in the main roadmap page. If users want more information, they can click on individual roadmap items for more information and even leave feedback there if they want to. This will help keep your customers involved in the process and close the feedback loop.
Lastly, all of your updates and customizations can be easily updated by you or anyone else on your team, helping you quickly communicate any changes to your users as required of Agile processes.