3 minutes reading time (645 words)

Agile roadmap


Management process is composed out of 4 phases:

  • Planning – this is when we set a goal and decide where are we going and where do we want to arrive in the future
  • Organizing – once we know what is our goal, we need to group and regroup our resources so we could arrive at the desired destination
  • Leading – organizing resources is not enough to achieve an aim and that is when this (dare we say most important) phase takes the stage, as motivation, leadership and nurturing a positive attitude is crucial for achieving a goal
  • Controlling – one must monitor progress all the time in order to determine if the process is going in the right direction and whether KPIs are satisfactory.

In traditional product management, the goal is defined well ahead and documented in detail. Every step along the way is planned and the other 3 phases are implemented based on that detailed plan.

And then we have Agile that is an iterative and incremental approach, based on empiricism and as such teaches us that all the knowledge we have gained while developing we need to analyze and apply. But does that mean we do not need a plan? Definitely not and this is one of the biggest delusions surrounding Agile methodologies.

When we decide to develop something new and exciting, we need to know what we are developing and where do we want to arrive in the future. For example, let's say we are planning a road trip and we want to go and see the magnificent Petra (if you have been there or you have some other destination in mind, feel free to imagine that other place :) ). Traditional product management would want us to have a detailed plan how we are going to arrive in Petra, meaning what routes are we going to take, how much gas we are going to spend and etc. Agile allows us to have a bit more flexible and relaxing vacation planning, but still we do need to know where we are headed. So we are going to see Petra, however we are going to start our journey and adapt our routes based on the newest information and knowledge we have acquired.

Nevertheless, this flexibility may make us forget where we are directed. Therefore, strategic plan is a necessity and must contain a vision of a product. It does not need to have dates that are far ahead and many details, as priorities can change. We have epics and user stories for particulars. Also, this roadmap will help all team members understand and feel the product they are creating. In product development, passion and devotion are crucial and it is quite hard to develop these if the team does not perceive what we are trying to offer to customers or how we are planning to make their life a bit easier.

The defined roadmap should be revised and adjusted along the way, however vision should not be forgotten. Product vision should always be kept in mind while evaluating stakeholder and customer requests and when we are deciding which features we would like to add to the product.

Are the 4 phases mentioned at the beginning present in Agile? Definitely yes and they should be present in each iteration, maybe just not as documented as in traditional product management. We saw that a strategic plan is necessary, apart from iteration planning. The whole team needs to be grouped around the defined plan and they should work together on achieving the product and iteration goal. Also, let's not forget that agile teams are self-organized and proper environment needs to exist in order to reach this state. Such environment is developed by agile leaders. And control? In Agile goals need to be measurable as well so we could know whether we have succeeded in their realization.

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