What are the Benefits of Creating a Software Development Roadmap?
You probably use Google Maps on a weekly basis to make sure you reach your destination in the shortest possible time with the least number of obstacles—like traffic congestion—on the way. Are you using this same principle in your business and software development yet?
Below you’ll find an in-depth discussion on software development roadmaps. The next you’re in need of software to improve productivity or streamline an aspect of your business, this is how you’ll reach your goal in the shortest time possible.
What is a Product Roadmap?
Before you feel daunted by the idea of creating a software development roadmap, relax. You don’t need all the details yet. A product roadmap acts as high-level communication about your desired outcome with the new software product you have in mind.
A roadmap will mention major milestones in the process as this helps everyone involved to strategize effectively. As a key to strategy rather than a complete plan, it won’t include every minute detail of your project.
Benefits of Your Roadmap
Some businesses or project leaders may opt to dive into projects without a roadmap, but know that you’ll miss out on these benefits:
- Speeding up the planning phase: Your current method of planning may bring cumbersome problems to the table. Spreadsheets have limited tools and take time to customize to showcase your plan effectively. A roadmap designed with modern software is user friendly. With the builder software, you can have your plan in place in a matter of minutes.
- Increase your efficiency: A clear roadmap is a key to the project moving along effectively. Role players can discuss and agree on priorities to prevent future misunderstandings. Providing your vision in an organized fashion will also let the project seem organized which avoids chaos and sparks motivation.
- Present your plan effectively: Once the plan is in place a proper roadmap can facilitate efficient discussions as it’s easy to showcase the plan. The visualization helps everyone discuss timelines and identify possible challenges. When you need changes it’s easy to make adjustments and save it so you have it on record.
- Effortlessly share it with the team: These roadmaps are also sharable so the appropriate role players can have easy access to them in order to manage the project and fulfill their roles. A roadmap is often web-based and any changes will be made in real time. Anyone accessing the plan will have the latest version on hand which prevents any chance of misunderstandings or working on outdated versions because someone didn’t receive the latest version via email.
When you create a product management roadmap you form the basis of an effective software development project.
Your Step by Step Guide: Creating a Software Development Roadmap
Step 1: Make a General Analysis
You’ll take time to determine your needs and requirements that the new software should fulfill. It’s the answer to the simple question of what the software is supposed to do. This will also include clarifying what you WANT, what you really NEED and what is POSSIBLE, such as whether an open-source solution will suffice.
This step involves data analysis and can include discussions with your team to clarify the exact need. You may think you need multiple features, but experienced service providers such as Gearheart will be able to tell you what is necessary and which feature will end up slowing down your process.
Why is this Important?
When the software engineering team doesn’t have clarity on what you need they may design samples of a program that seem impressive to them but don’t align with what your business requires. It will require a new design, wasting time and money.
Step 2: Define the Product Strategy
During this step, you’ll discuss your target groups such as customers, your company’s vision and goals and how the new product will help you fulfill that vision. Often, during strategizing you’ll consider how your vision relates to these aspects and so ensure software roadmapping aligns with your goals:
- Your competition
- Your business
- The environment you operate in which will influence product or the market you’re part of; this includes economic, tech and political factors
Important tip: these days technology changes fast. Think of the latest tech when designing your strategy so you don’t fall behind the trends and allow others to outperform you.
Step 3: Specify the Development Plan Milestones
The planning related to software development is all about creating a structure of how the development will progress. It can be a detailed layout of what will take place or simply a high-level plan mentioning the steps of reaching the goal. In software development, some milestones and details are made based on assumptions as timelines can’t always be determined with high accuracy. When partnering with experts such as Gearheart they can provide insight into how long a project should take in order to compile realistic milestones and timelines. Why is this Important?Planning the development of a software program is often difficult. For instance, you don’t know how many errors will surface during the testing phase. But planning should still happen in order to improve the structure and efficiency of the process.When there’s a software development plan in place the work isn’t done exactly according to a timeline, but it becomes more predictable and reliable.
Step 4: Appoint Responsibilities and Roles for the Project
You don’t give a plan to a team; rather you allocate specific roles to individuals or the managers of teams. Why is this Important?It must be clear what each person or group’s responsibility is because:
- It prevents misunderstandings
- Role players can’t blame each other for not performing, since it’s clear who needs to do or monitor a certain milestone
- There’s no risk of wasting time by two role players separately working on the same aspect
Step 5: Define and Manage Risks
You need to identify what can harm the outcome of the project. In software development risks can relate to:
- Inaccurate costing
- Delays in reaching milestones
- Project resources
- Working with new technology that has not been proven
- The program’s performance
- The architecture of the software
- Requirements of users
Why is this Important?Your software product roadmap must include plans to prevent or at least minimize the risk in order to optimize the outcome.
Step 6: Generate the Roadmap
Now that you have clarity on what the goal is and what milestones will get you there you can put it all together and make a roadmap for a software development plan. Ideally, this should be done by importing it into a template of a roadmap tool. Why is this Important?With all the elements you researched, roadmap tools can generate feedback on your team’s workload and help you create a realistic estimate of the road ahead.
Step 7: Validate the Roadmap With the Team
A validation meeting is where you present the provisional software development roadmap example to everyone involved. They need to approve of the timelines and provide you with feedback if they’re aware of factors that can influence the outcome:
- A developer may know the testing phase will take longer than you estimated
- The marketing team can tell you where future product launches take place where the whole company is involved; this may slow down other departments’ functioning for a few days
- Management may need the software sooner than your roadmap predicts which means more manpower will have to be involved in building the program
Everyone’s feedback must be incorporated until they’re satisfied with the plan. Why is this Important?You need the buy in from the team to ensure high productivity. Communication will also help identify possible obstacles that others in the team are aware of, but which you overlooked.
Step 8: Improve According to Feedback
Improvements will happen throughout the development phase, but also after the implementation period. Software users on the payroll can provide insight during meetings and clients’ opinions can be gauged in surveys, reviews or personal discussions. Why is this Important?You’ll never get it 100% correct the first time. To optimize reaching your goals and fulfilling the needs you determined at the start of software roadmapping, you need feedback. Also, technology changes so new innovations can benefit your program and help you realize your vision even more effectively.Ready to start planning your program?
Let’s Wrap Up
Technology like software makes life easier and your business more productive. But without clear guidelines the development process can hinder rather than help you reach your next goal. Start implementing software product roadmaps in your environment and enjoy the positive results!