Product managers are often challenged with massive projects that are riddled with pressing deadlines, requiring cross-team collaboration and pointed objectives. How can they concisely explain to project stakeholders how the project will unfold without breaking down every last detail?
Defining a Project Roadmap
This is where a project roadmap comes into play—it’s a simple, high-level summary of your project that clearly lays out project milestones, deliverables and objectives. Project roadmaps are easy-to-understand documents that are visually appealing and can be shared with anyone on your team. This unique tool has a different purpose than similar project documents such as a milestone chart, project plan or project charter.
From IT strategies to marketing plans to new business development, nearly any project or industry can benefit from a project roadmap. As the working landscape shifts from in-office to increasingly remote, project roadmaps become that much more important in keeping all stakeholders aligned.
Defining Hybrid Work
Hybrid work extends beyond physical working location. A complete definition of hybrid work refers to a working environment where teams are separated by location, work style preference and the unique data and insights required by various cross-functional roles. For instance, while the project manager may gravitate toward a traditional waterfall approach for planning and execution, some team members may prefer an agile methodology or even a simple task list. Yet somehow these various work styles need to roll up into a cohesive, cross-team plan.
Without the right project management tools or strategy in place, hybrid teams may face unique yet consistent challenges such as:
Reduced visibility into project progress with no one single place to see updates
Inefficient, siloed communication
Difficulties managing resources such as time and budget
A lack of project governance as projects are requested and executed in unpredictable ways
As teams are separated by physical location, work style preferences and roles, they require access to a deliverable to which they can refer at every point in the project. Project roadmaps for hybrid teams can help bridge the gap between inconsistencies in the location, role and skills of team members for a simpler path forward.
Why Are Project Roadmaps Important for Hybrid Product Teams?
Project roadmaps essentially act as a line of communication throughout the project. Not only does it provide a high-level overview of the timeline, but it explains the phases. Project roadmaps are a simple yet powerful tool to keep both stakeholders and project managers aligned with the strategy and execution of the project.
There are many benefits to using project roadmaps for both in-office and hybrid teams:
Easily and quickly communicate project plans and goals that everyone regardless of role or location can understand
Manage stakeholder expectations
Communicate plans with other internal and external teams or organizations
Hit non-negotiable deadlines and deliverables while making room for other last-minute variables and changes
How to Create a Project Roadmap
To move forward with creating a project roadmap for a hybrid team, here are the following implementation steps.
Create a Project Overview
Determine a high-level overview of the goals and objectives of the project. No need to include in-depth details in this section as you can explain them in your project charter.
Identify Project Risks
What could make the project fail? Make sure to outline risks including the project plan, scope, stakeholder expectations, quality assurance and more. Outlining the risks is also important for hybrid team members so they are aware of potential downfalls or roadblocks in the project.
Map Out Key Milestones and Deliverables
Make sure to include a schedule overview that outlines key milestones and deliverables. This is particularly important for hybrid teams so they know exactly what tasks need to be completed within a particular time frame.
Note the high-level project deliverables and how they’re connected to one another. Consider using a Gantt chart software tool that makes linking dependencies easy and visually appealing.
Resources refer to both human resources such as your project team and physical resources such as materials. Clearly define these resources to give team members a better understanding of how they can (and should) spend their time.
Identify Key Individuals
List who the key players are in the project, their role and how to contact them.
Schedule a Kickoff Meeting
Prepare a kickoff meeting agenda so it’s clear to all team members and stakeholders what comes next. Once the key milestones and deliverables are in place, it is up to the individual team members to determine how to best execute against the roadmap. While many of these deliverables could be projects unto themselves, a project roadmap rolls it into one easy-to-view location.
Project Roadmaps for Hybrid Teams: Key Takeaways
Project roadmaps are useful on their own, but for hybrid product teams, they are a critical component of a successful project. As communication and collaboration are key elements of project roadmaps, they can be used to make pivotal decisions regarding the project. Ideally, the roadmap should be updated throughout the lifecycle of the project as a real-time status report for team members.
By implementing project roadmaps, hybrid teams gain the visibility, flexibility and single source of truth they need to overcome challenges of working from different locations, gravitating toward unique work styles and honing in on their individual skills.