Project Managers and Roadmapping

Project Managers and Roadmapping

For many folks in the project management biz, one of life’s little frustrations is that the work is so tactical. Other people get to do the strategic work, defining the strategy and deciding what projects will support it. One or more of these projects comes to you and off you trot. No opinions, please, PM, just go forth and conquer. That’s right… now run along and don’t worry your pretty head about whether the projects are the right ones for the company.

The trouble is, you, because of your tactical experience, might have some valuable strategic input. After all, while you’re likely not all the way down in the trenches, you are in touch with the people who are. You spend your days walking from trench to trench, getting information, coordinating efforts, and in general gaining a sound view of what projects make sense for your part of the business. (Just to stretch the trench analogy a tad more, you’re probably also getting shot at now and then—good luck with that.)

And yet, there’s hope. Sometimes you’ll have a chance to contribute to the strategy—maybe not the super-executive strategy, like “conquer 1/3 of the world by 2Q ’12,” but the beans-in-the-pot part of strategy, where projects are chosen, or pitched, or both. This process is often known as “roadmapping.” As a product guy, I’ve had this opportunity, and it can be rewarding and fun.

In January I attended a meeting of the Product Management SIG of the Technology Association of Georgia, where a panel five execs with a lot of roadmapping experience shared their wisdom. Key issues covered were:

• What tasks are associated with roadmapping?
• How do you get support for a roadmap?
• How do you handle changes?

I’ll be sharing what I learned in the next few posts.

By the way, for those of you who were worried about it, too: my son got his Pinewood Derby car finished, tested, and ready to race. We are going for the Touring Class prize, which is for the slowest car, so send us good, slow racing thoughts on Thursday, February 4th, our big race day. Thanks!

Next: Task List for Roadmapping

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