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Using Your Engineering Team To Define Your Roadmap

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Problem

Different companies have different approaches to developing an engineering and product roadmap, such as yearly planning or quarterly planning. However, it's critically important to define an engineering and product roadmap before you start work. If you only begin planning things once a quarter has started, then it will already be too late. Engineers won't know what to do and will question what is going on.

Actions taken

The first step we take when developing a roadmap is to gather ideas from our engineers. A lot of companies, especially ones with a mature engineering or product team, will only talk to stakeholders about next steps. However, engineers are the ones spending eight hours a day developing the product.

To do this, at my last company, I sent out an email to our whole engineering team that contained three company goals - increasing our user base, revenue, and customer satisfaction. Then, I held half-day offsite brainstorming sessions and asked for our engineers to come up with ideas to support these goals. This got everybody into the same room so we could all think together about high priority projects.

"This approach is extremely effective because it allows engineers to feel like they have a say. Because they are on the frontline, working with code for eight hours a day, they have good knowledge about what needs to be worked on."

Some of the ideas that people suggested were pretty similar, so we began to group ideas, and we then asked the engineering team to vote for the top ideas. From there, we were able to bring these ideas to the PMs to get their final input, and we then were able to develop our roadmap.

Lessons learned

This approach is extremely effective because it allows engineers to feel like they have a say. Because they are on the frontline, working with code for eight hours a day, they have good knowledge about what needs to be worked on.


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