Building a road-map is a strenuous process. Correct prioritisation and planning a proper project that will address the strategy, understand what needs to be delivered and then bring that to life in a visual structure. That is all great but now how to do it virtually? Yes, this is a question we often get asked … it makes sense when you are in contact with your team to do this, but what about remotely. And this we answer with the simple statement, doing a road-map with a virtual team is the ultimate collaboration. Naturally, there are serious challenges such as lack of fast feedback, inability to change course direction based on new priorities, and reluctance to gather inputs from multiple stakeholders instantly and this can throw the team off track quite easily. But this is out-weighted by having a visual aid that can be the pinpoint for collaborative success.
Here are some tips / steps to creating a Virtual Road-map:
- The idea is to initially create a backlog for the road-map that addresses all the requests and for all high business value items, new requests, critical enhancements, etc.
- Arrange a quick kick-off call, to make the team aware of the road mapping process. Socialise the backlog beforehand and this is a great time to get participants inputs on some of the risks they may see, some of the core benefits to be realised and any other inputs. Log it visually using some form of a virtual whiteboard. The more discussion, the better.
- Ask the team to go away and think about the how … look to them to take the concept and think how are we going to deliver this and what is required to make it happen. This should not be done with a meeting. It is essential that participants and given sufficient time to think, ponder and understand what they are been asked of. Naturally, the more feedback to you, the better.
- Now, through a get-together, look to the team to visualise how things should be delivered. A great method is to start by drawing a very large tree on a virtual whiteboard and present it. Thick limbs represent major areas of delivery within your project. The edge of the tree – its outermost branches – represents the what will be delivered and so on. As you do this, the team are collaborating in the visualisation of the project. Transparency is the key objective here.
- You are there to ask the questions rather than direct the visualisation. For example:
- Is the project growing in a balanced manner?
- Do we know that the roots of a tree (your support and customer constraints) are been called out as key dependencies
- Now translate these deliverables to a road-map structure under four distinct headings:
- What is the Name of our Next Tranche / Deliverable?
- What is the actual goal for this Tranche / Deliverable?
- What do we need to deliverable from the Tree for this?
- How are we going to Measure Success for this Tranche / Deliverable?
- The output is a visual roadmap depicting the core deliverables, the elements that need to be done to ensure that deliverable is realised (with dependencies), and what success looks like.
Will this work … let me answer it this way, if you facilitate it, they will collaborate. This is a collaboration framework that provides your team with a way to provide input into the decision-making process by looking at the set of deliverables that comprise the product in a holistic manner.