Roadmapping is about leadership and teams meeting in the middle
Most companies treat roadmaps like a pyramid process:
1. Leadership/founders decide what to build…
2. PM team explains the features, generally in PRDs...
3. Designers design the features...
4. Engineers code the features.
Many think this is the right way, but this is “management’s comfortable way”. It grants them control over what is built and feels “efficient”. In reality, this leads to underperforming products, unhappy teams and unexplored opportunities.
A better way is meeting in the middle:
1. Leadership/management explores and demonstrates opportunities, generally tied to a) company strategy, b) OKRs, c) strategic initiatives.
2. Product teams (including PMs, Designers, Engineers and others) ideate solutions to tackle those opportunities.
3. Both meet in the middle to discuss and agree on scope (feature breadth, depth and quality bar), resources (how many people to tackle each opportunity) and timelines (what is the feasible delivery date).
This top-down + bottom-up approach has significant upside:
- Empowers teams to explore solutions, and gets their buy in
- Grants management a more targeted control (over opportunities, instead of features)
- Allows agreement and expectation management for all parties