We had a relatively new product owner who had a list of times he wanted complete in the year. He had an idea of which items to complete first in an excel spreadsheet. We wanted the team to feel empowered to collaboratively plan and be in partnership with the product owner. Here is our first draft after a few months with sensitive information removed.
As you can see a visual road map is a pictorial representation of the things a team could do. No timescales! We considered the items on the backlog and organised these into themes Customer, Bugs, Redacted and Regulation and with the Product Owner organised into a rough order.
A hand drawn visual roadmap uses cognitive bias to encourage people to view the document more as changeable and not as a fixed 1 – 3 year road map which is unchangeable which maybe an excel or ppt doc may.
This also encourages the Product Owner to be more flexible in changing direction. This then with other tools to talk about business value means we spend more time working on the highest business value item.
Even just showing the available options as a big picture near the team seems to help make us aware as a PO and Dev team that we can change and pivot.
We are here & goals
Using a sticky note to denote where the team are currently at on the road map seems to engage the team. In previous experiments i have used gamification and badges to drive behaviours towards a DevOps culture. I think the same principal is at work here. The team want to get the next badge/icon along the path.
On occasion we have set sprint goals aligned to the next road map items. We could then have visualised this on the road map. I think this would be a useful element and help keep the roadmap more changeable and inter
Show what we didn’t do
I think its important to show change of direction and where we made a decision to not peruse items. We have a pause icon on the latest version for an item we have stopped doing. We also would have added another item
A major benefit of agile to me is maximising the work not done and visualising this on a road map i think is useful. By putting a red cross and an arrow around an item It shows the decisions we took.
It allows us to Tell a story. To let the team celebrate successes and remember deliveries.
We assigned a rough value for each item where at all possible. This was a helpful reminder for us to focus on the thing which was of highest value. A helpful reminder to focus on outcomes over deliverables. However we were still left with the problems of how to put value on governance items and tech debt. Link to a presentation i gave with some tools for talking business value.
Along with the above the team enjoyed the road map and i believe we got better engagement from the team. The updating of the road map has been adopted by the team, here is the latest version with the GDPR cloud approaching!
Prizes for guessing what some of the icons mean….
The road map has formed a key part of a second board for the team. We have on one side a Kanban board visualising the teams process and the work in that process during the sprint and items in elaboration. What we found is that this board was too short term focused and could lead to the team becoming a feature factory. We wanted the team to be aware of the long term view, to understand why the features were important so we used the other side for a planning board. On this we have an Epic Board, work decomposed into epics. The visual road map and our VMOST canvas to help the team link the features we are delivering back to business strategy and vision.
We even included a totalisator made up of a tube which can be seen in the first photo on the page, the goal to get the benefit to outway the cost of the squad for one year. Currently we are at £2.8 for each £1 spent.
How did we do it?
We used an Ipad Pro and apple pencil using App Procreate to draw all the simple icons. Similar drawing pad or tablet e.g surface would do work the same. The software constraints within the team (We didn’t all have Photoshop) meant we dropped all the images into a Visio doc and arranged. We wanted the team to be able to edit and make changes to the road map easily and simply. Although we are now reaching the edge of Visios functionality.
We printed the Visio out on 4 A3 pages to make it nice and large and placed on the board in the team area.
TL;DR – Visual roadmaps increase team and PO engagement, invite discussion and tell a story, worth a try