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Oroson — Coming Soon, the marriage of agile and roadmaps

Oroson  by Oroson  March 2, 2018

So, here at Oroson HQ, we have a product roadmap, it’s big and it’s shiny and it’s maintained by me (with impeccable regularity and reliability of course!). The roadmap tells me where we’re going and by when, and keeps us all straight… right? Well…to follow the traffic metaphor; sometimes there’s an obstruction on the road and we need to take a little detour. These detours can be exciting, we get to check out places that we hadn’t considered visiting before, we revisit places we’d long forgotten about and occasionally we pay a visit to places we can’t wait to get away from. All those adventures can make the roadmap out of date and revising that roadmap feels like retrospective project management and documentation for the sake of it, but not updating the roadmap feels like renegade mastery, like admitting that I too might have been on a white-knuckle ride without satellite navigation.

How can we reconcile our need for a product roadmap with the agile way that we work? Well, we’re a business, we need a product roadmap, that is simply a fact of life, and it’s one that sits well with a traditional project manager, dates and times and commitments and documentation all the stuff no-one really reads and no-one is particularly interested in. Why is that, why is no-one interested in the heavy documentation? Well, it’s because we just accept that it will change, that these things that were of primary importance last month are only 10th on the list this month. We just deal with it, we have tools and structures that just deal with it and we have people who just deal with it. We don’t fill in change requests and we don’t redraft project plans because we always knew it would change, so we didn’t waste our time setting it all up in a way that would impede us or slow us down, we are designed for change. That’s the exciting part of working in a tight team with goals focused on our customer needs, we’re able to adjust quickly and we’re able to deliver quickly, we can get it right as long as we keep the customer resolutely at the front of everything we do.

The long and short of it is that I’ve been asked to sort out my roadmap; not least so that I can write a blog post about what you can expect from us over the next few months. I’ve got to be honest with you, I’ve been digging my heels in — I’ve been enjoying the jaunts into the agile countryside, shaking off my PRINCE2 cloak and basking in the sunshine of “let’s just do this!”.

There’s no more avoiding it; I need to pin my flag to the mast and make some commitments. So, here’s what’s on my roadmap for the next few months of 2018, in no particular order:

Other feature considerations in the pipeline:

I’m not going to lie to you, I hope it changes because that means that we are responsive to our customers and driving our product forward (those metaphors are hard to shake when you get going!). In rare times of sprint calmness, I like to redraft the documentation and maybe fill in a change request that no-one will ever read, I like to mentally draft the risk register and assess the probabilities and impacts, just for fun. What can I say; it’s ingrained.

In short, we marry the two; the agile and the roadmap in the way of most marriages, it’s about the people and the compromise.

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