Two Roadmaps In One

Yidner Salazar

Senior Manager Software Development at Workday



"We have a very strong PM team that can develop a comprehensive and detailed product roadmap. However, the more the product grew, the more we saw a need for a specific technical roadmap that will outline what we need to build to support the product roadmap. At that moment we were still uncertain if we would go with a separate technical and product roadmap or merge them together into a single document."

Actions taken

Initially, we were inclined to go with a separate technical roadmap. We did a planning exercise and came up with a great many ideas, enough to develop a separate technical roadmap. However, we instantly encountered a problem -- we had two roadmaps with conflicting priorities. Typically, product people wanted to prioritize on features and developers wanted to prioritize on functionality.

"After having an intense discussion, we have decided to merge these two roadmaps into a single document and to call it a product roadmap."

However, we understood that maintaining a balance between features and their technical implementation is essential. When prioritizing the backlog, we would select one item at a time -- either a technical or a functional one -- put it in the same context and then make a final decision on prioritization. This approach implied a significant amount of conversation across the teams. PMs, developers, and QAs, they all had to agree on prioritization.

"Moreover, if anything was added to a roadmap from the feature perspective, it should be matched by a technical assessment. It should be clear how proposed features would be implemented and if developers were capable to technically accomplish that."

"For example, a new feature of printing a letter was recently proposed. Never before had we dealt with printing. We have a tool that enables printing but no one on our team knows how to use it and we need to be technically ready to use it one release before the work on the printing feature even commences."

Lessons learned

  • "Ideally, a technical and product roadmap should be complementary and not mutually exclusive. However, if we had kept two separate roadmaps we would have encountered insurmountable obstacles when prioritizing our work. Merging a technical and product roadmap improved not only our performance but also communication across the teams."
  • "We consider our product roadmap more as a planning tool than a document set in stone. We regularly adjust our product roadmap during release planning. Main discussions happen precisely during the release planning when we rank our priorities for the upcoming release cycle."
  • "All the discussions should be attended by PMs, developers, and QAs and each of their perspectives should be equally acknowledged."

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Yidner Salazar

Senior Manager Software Development at Workday


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