A Guide for Guiding Your Team

For Executives that are leading Digital Transformation, it’s important that you are able to explain to your teams, what the key elements of a roadmap are and how it’s different to a traditional Gantt chart. So they can contribute to composing and bringing those plans to life.

It’s not so much of Batman vs Joker; Just two artefacts, two different functions and benefits.
Gantt Chart Elements: The elements of a Gantt chart are activities, dependencies and milestones with a start and end date to each activity. In Gantt you can see a sequence of activities and activities that are forming a critical path. Some key dates are moveable; some of them are absolutely non-negotiable.

[Product] Roadmap: Is an artefact that shows our goals for the performance of a product in the market. It’s value-driven document! These are the five elements of a good product roadmap: (1) Business Goal, (2) Dates, (3) Metrics, (4) Success Criteria, and (5) Deliverables.

1. Goal – Answering: What is the business goal for each milestone? A goal, as you know, needs to be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.

2. Date – Answering: When do you want to achieve the goal? Product Roadmap, to be aligned with your quarterly financial calendar so you can release funds to your product teams and set that rhythm. Something to have in mind: Date may not be a date in calendar but may be in time with an event. E.g We want to ensure we have this released by the time that this product becomes available.

3. Metrics – Answering: What is that metric that we would want to measure? Or, what is it that you’re trying to improve?

4. Success criteria – Is always a number and always something you can baseline and then measure. For example, if 20 percent of your clients spend four times longer on an App compared to the original baseline.

A side note, though I love numbers and would love to make everything measurable, there are some factors that might not be easily or accurately measured. So this key element might simply be what does success look like.

Now you can look at a list of deliverables/ features that can help you to get to this goal and hit your targets. And these are the ONLY things you will need to achieve this goal.

5. Deliverables or features – Answering: What do we deliver to market or to internal users? Features – Things you will build into your system in order for you to achieve the goals you have set at the beginning. This is a something that is LIVE to a real user that is able to test if we are helping to achieve their desired outcomes.

A key differentiator: Features are INVEST (Independent Negotiable Valuable Estimated Sized Tested.) Items on a Gantt chart however, are not all of these until the whole project is finished and then sometimes due to elapsed time you can even still question the value.

Tweet-size post: Roadmap guides business activities and Gantt guide build activities.

Further Reading: Product Management using Scrum by Roman Pichler. When I first read this book, I was surprised how simple it is and how significantly different it was to what I had in mind in terms of timeline.

Guiding your team: Why Gantt chart is not enough?

Tweet-size answer: Simply because it does not say What we are doing and Why we are doing it.

Long answer:

Firstly, it doesn’t have the business view to me. I consider the a business view focused on customers and doing something great for them and well defined metrics. This Gantt doesn’t tell me Why and, What is the focus

Secondly, we are operating in Agile mode which means we do analysis, design, building in the same sprint. So there is no need to map these activities any more.

Thirdly, a Roadmap keeps you focused on the goal and success criteria and I cannot emphasize how important that is. It’s not the activities that need to happen but emphasis on the goal. This point of focus will help you so if you have a roadblock, you can revisit and ask, ‘What did you want to achieve?’. If your original course of action isn’t successful, you can try another. How bad this still allows team to move forward, but in a different way.

This brings me to the fourth point, which to me is the most important and fun part; roadmap allows for creativity and innovation. When your team knows what the goal is, all is set! They don’t need to write the activities and step by step actions. Their time and focus is on target goal and they are not limited by and to the predefined activities and step.

BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER:

Roadmap is the artefact defining what needs to be done and how we know it’s successfully done. Its key element is goal and a metric. Roadmap helps you define SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and testable) business goals for your products and systems.

Gantt is the artefact that defines activities and their sequence that needs to be done to deliver a piece of work.

MINI ACTIONS:

1.a. If you are a project based firm: Choose two (2) active projects, look at the what has currently composed as a plan. See if it is Roadmap with clear milestone, or Gantt. [Learn yourself]

1.b. If you are a product firm: Choose two (2) high profile products in your portfolio and see what are the milestone for Q1, and Q2. See if the features that teams are working on are aligned with the goals of each milestone. [Learn yourself]

2. In the next team meeting, explain the difference of the two to your team and see how the discussion evolves.

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