What is a Project Roadmap?

Overview of Project Roadmap

Stakeholders expect project managers to update them on the progress of a project throughout the project life cycle. However, as a project consists of numerous moving parts, project managers can get lost in low-level details and lose track of the bigger picture. Still, it is essential for project managers to present the execution progress to stakeholders without getting lost in the minutiae of the project. This is where a Project Roadmap comes in handy.

A well-developed project roadmap is one of the critical components of project planning process that summarizes the entire project plan into an easily comprehensible document without delving into the minutiae of the plan.

This article will walk you through the definition of a project roadmap, the difference between a Project Roadmap, the Project Plan, and the Project Dashboard, some best practices for developing and maintaining a project roadmap, and the advantages of a project roadmap.

What is a Project Roadmap?

A project roadmap is a high-level visual representation of a project’s primary components like objectives, milestones, deliverables, resources, and the project timeline. The main aim of using a roadmap is to present a comprehensive view of the strategic objectives of a project and its high-level overall status.  The project roadmap is an excellent communication tool between a project manager and the stakeholders.

Project-Roadmap

The project roadmap provides a visual representation of the project strategy and also, objectives for its implementation. The roadmap ensures that everyone involved in the project, regardless of their role, has a full overview of the project. Given its simplicity, project managers often use roadmaps as project portfolio management tools that help them maintain several ongoing projects simultaneously.

Project Dashboard, Project Plan, Project Roadmap – The Difference

A Project Roadmap, Project Plan, and Project Dashboard are three essential components of a project. Let’s find out how they are different from each other.

  • Project Roadmap: A project roadmap is a high-level, strategic visual representation of a project.  It does not go into details about day-to-day activities. The roadmap is intended to provide the management team and stakeholders with a quick strategic overview of the project’s status.
  • Project Plan: A project plan (or schedule) presents task-level information about a project on a timeline to assist project managers in determining the overall time it will take to do the project, as well as in identifying all the tasks that need to be done and tracking all components of the project at a detailed level. The project plan is primarily intended to serve as an artifact for the project team to keep a plan and track of how the project is progressing.
  • Project Dashboard: The project dashboard provides the status of all the key performance metrics for a project. It serves the purpose of a monitoring tool for project managers to keep track of things that are going well in the project as well as those that may need to be adjusted to meet project goals. The dashboard gathers information from various touchpoints and merges them together into a single interface. This provides stakeholders, project managers, and team members an overall snapshot of the project’s status. Project dashboards are intended to present key performance measures and actionable insights for corrective action at various levels.

Project Roadmap Chart

5 Key Elements of a Project Roadmap

Some of the key elements of the project are:

  1. Objectives: Objectives form the most important element of a project roadmap. It should provide a macro-level view of the project targets, how the targets are being achieved, the key tasks, and time and budget constraints of the project to project managers, project team, and stakeholders. The project roadmap needs to be built in such a way that it helps to get a clear picture of work going on in the project at a glance.
  2. Milestones: Project milestones signify the level of progress that has been achieved within the project. They assist stakeholders and project managers in tracking project progress and allow team members to plan their work commitments and priorities accordingly.
  3. Deliverables: Project deliverables are the tangible outcomes that are expected to be achieved from a project. Stakeholders viewing a project roadmap should quickly and easily  be able to grasp  the project progress by looking at deliverables.
  4. Risk Management: One of the most crucial aspects of a project’s execution is risk management. The roadmap highlights potential risks or issues that the project may be facing. By having this information available at all times, project managers will be able to avoid the risks or take the required precautions if they do encounter the same.
  5. Timelines: Adhering to timelines and schedules is crucial at every stage of the project. This benefits both the team and the stakeholders, who can see if milestones and critical deliverables are being met on time and if the project as a whole is on track.

Project Roadmap Software

3 Best Practices of Project Roadmap

1. The roadmap should come prior to the project plan:

The project roadmap and project plan are two separate artifacts. The project plan describes the operational aspects of a project, whereas the roadmap specifies the strategic details. So, the high-level document, which focuses on the project’s broader, high-level view, should be prepared first. This will serve as a starting point for creating the project plan, which is a more detailed document. Breaking the project down into tasks, milestones and resource allocations  will be easier if you have a clear knowledge of the overall goal.

2. The project roadmap should be easily comprehensible:

The objective of the project roadmap is to ensure that everyone involved in the project, particularly those outside the project team, such as management, stakeholders, and investors, is aware of the project’s objectives and goals, and its overall progress and status. There’s no purpose in creating a roadmap if you deliver this information in a way that’s cumbersome or confusing to external stakeholders.

3. The roadmap should be updated  regularly:

All key/ significant scope modifications, milestone date adjustments, or resource allocation changes should be updated in the project roadmap regularly. This is especially true for large/ complex projects that are more likely to be prone to change due to a variety of factors.

What Are the Advantages Of A Project Roadmap?

1. Outlines only the project objectives and saves time

A project roadmap gives a fair understanding of the project objectives as well as the progress of the project at a glance enabling the project managers to gain clarity over the project and achieve goals. Added to this, choosing a consolidated and standard format for a project roadmap visualization can save a lot of time when it comes to reviewing the project. A roadmap is easy to create and update and can also be saved as a template for later. The roadmap enables addressing only the most important issues of the project with the leadership which saves time for everyone.

2. Obtain buy-in on the deliverables of the project

Project roadmap helps in preparing the project deliverables. Having the project deliverables in place before kick-starting the project meeting with the stakeholders helps in curating all the important information related to the project and thereby, helping people involved in the decision-making process with the vision and mission of the project. It provides the stakeholders with a better understanding of the project and ultimately obtain buy-in.

3. Managing the expectations of the project stakeholders

By getting an overview of the project objectives, deliverables, milestones, and other important information about the project through the roadmap, the stakeholders get an idea of the project scope as well as the timeframe and set their expectations accordingly.

Summary

A project roadmap provides the project manager and the stakeholders with clarity about the status of the project, what new steps need to be implemented further, and what steps need to be transformed to hit the project goals successfully.

Swiftenterprise Roadmap

Digité’s SwiftEnterprise agile road-mapping feature provides an overview of project progress. This aids in evaluating how the project is progressing and delving down further to see how each level contributes to overall progress. At a glance, one can see the interdependencies between the resources and which efforts may go in vain if they continue at their current pace. To know further about SwiftEnterprise and get a FREE DEMO, click here.

Project Roadmap FAQs

Is Project Plan the same as a Project Roadmap?

A project roadmap is a high-level, strategic visual representation of a project. While a project plan presents task-level information about a project on a timeline to assist project managers in determining the overall time it will take to do the project.

What does a Project Roadmap Include?

A Project Roadmap is a strategic plan that defines a goal or desired outcome and includes the major steps or milestones needed to reach it.

What Should a Project Roadmap Include?

A Project Roadmap should include objectives, milestones, deliverables, resources, and a planned timeline.

Who Creates a Project Roadmap?

The project manager creates the roadmap (discusses it with stakeholders). Other members on the team can contribute to it, as well. The customer, product owner and managers are also on a part of it - they help decide what general principles each phase of the project should follow in order to meet their needs and run smoothly.

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