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Ultimate Guide to Roadmaps in Project Management (2021)

Countless meetings, multiple revisions, and tons of endless tasks. 

Project management can feel like a test of your juggling skills. 🤹

Fortunately, you can balance everything skillfully with project roadmaps

But what is a project roadmap?

A roadmap is a concise framework of your project plan. Instead of drowning you in details, a roadmap lets you view the project schedule, crucial milestones, and objectives.

In this article, we’ll discuss what roadmap project management is, how to create a project roadmap, and the benefits and challenges of using roadmaps to manage your projects. 

Let’s see where this road takes us!

What Is a Roadmap in Project Management?

From allocating resources to handling clients’ expectations, every project comes with its fair share of challenges. 

And unless you possess the photographic memory of Sheldon Cooper, the chances are that something or the other will slip out of your mind.

Sheldon saying my brain is better than everybody's

That’s where roadmaps come in handy!

A roadmap gives you a graphical, macro-level overview of the project’s goals and timelines. 

By highlighting the key components of your plan, project roadmapping helps your team stay on track with upcoming tasks and updates your client on the work progress. 

It’s a useful tool for project management, giving you a quick recap of project scope, milestones, key deliverables, dependencies, and risks.

Now that we know what a project roadmap is, let’s see how you can use one to manage your projects successfully. 

How to use a roadmap for project management

With a carefully crafted roadmap, your peace and profits can go hand in hand! 

To start with, here are some elements you’ll need to include on your project roadmap:

  • Scope and deliverables: what’s the expected outcome of this project? A roadmap will help guide your agile team on what they have to achieve 
  • Set the project timeline: sticking to a schedule is important if you don’t want things to go haywire. Just like when you get your coffee at 11:00 AM instead of your usual time at 8:00 AM… #disaster
  • Identify milestones: go the extra mile and set milestones to track progress. This way, you can manage stakeholder expectations and keep your team motivated by checking off each project milestone
  • Identify key resources: which team members are required for this project? Who’ll be creating the daily reports? Who’s bringing the coffee? This will increase accountability and foster better team collaboration
  • Identify possible risks: plan for potential roadblocks that can delay your project, like inaccurate budget estimations or unrealistic deadlines. Instead of getting into a latté trouble with your clients, you should create a foolproof plan to mitigate project risks

Additionally, you’ll have to interlink crucial tasks and the key resources responsible for their proper execution. This ensures that every team member is aware of their responsibilities and will appear polished and well prepared during client presentations. 

Finally, ensure all team members and clients have access to the roadmap to help keep everyone on the same page. 

To learn more about creating and using roadmaps, read our ultimate guide to roadmapping

Now that you know the secret weapon to conquer all your project management needs, let’s see how you can get the most out of it. 

5 No-Nonsense Tips for Creating a Project Roadmap

Here are five tips to create an effective project management roadmap:

A. Use roadmap project management software to manage everything

Roadmap project management software helps teams set project goals, establish timelines, and collaborate with every key stakeholder.

Additionally, roadmap software helps you:

  • Streamline and automate time-consuming steps like task delegation 
  • Visualize and track work progress
  • Access key reports like monthly project reports, weekly status reports, and more
  • Discuss tasks with communication features 

Fortunately, when it comes to roadmap project management, the road becomes easy with a robust roadmap planner tool like ClickUp.

Wait… what’s ClickUp?

Access ClickUp on any device

ClickUp is one of the highest-rated productivity and roadmap project management tools used by productive teams in small and large companies. 

It lets you schedule recurring tasks to streamline repetitive processes in multiple projects. Additionally, you can map out your project’s critical path with the Gantt Chart view to identify the most crucial tasks and track project progress.  

This way, your client won’t be as critical as Gordon Ramsay about your project outcome. 

Here’s a quick look into how ClickUp makes roadmap project management easy peasy lemon squeezy: 

Check out the complete list of ClickUp’s features that’ll help you ace every aspect of project management.

B. Include clear, precise information 

You need to only communicate the essential aspects of your project like objectives, risks, and deadlines in your project roadmap. 

This way, the steering committee (key stakeholders) can get the gist of your project plan with a quick look at your roadmap template. 

After all, no one wants to spend an hour going through a project roadmap when they could spend that time working on the actual project. 🤷‍♂️

C. Set realistic goals

Setting unrealistic goals in your roadmap is like having crazy diet plans. They could do more harm than good.

Devil Wears Prada Emily when I feel faint I eat a cube of cheese

Impossible goals and deadlines will only cause stress and dissatisfaction within your project team. 

That’s why it’s important to set achievable goals that can be met over some time. 

No worries. With a product roadmap tool like ClickUp, you can set realistic start dates and due dates for your team. This way, they can prepare for deadlines and not fall into the procrastination doom loop.

Moreover, you can break down your goals into smaller, manageable targets

This makes it easier for your team to achieve goals consistently. Each time you crush a target, ClickUp automatically updates your Goal progress, showing you how close you are to achieving it. 

Looking for a great goal setting tool?

Check out these five great goal setting software for 2021

D. Invite stakeholders to collaborate

There’s no joy seeing your efforts over the last few weeks or even months go to absolute waste. 😱

Collaborating on your roadmap with stakeholders will let you know if your team is heading in the right direction to meet client expectations. You can even clear any confusion or discuss how to overcome potential roadblocks right away. 

Fortunately, with roadmap project management tools, you can invite your clients to collaborate with you in seconds. 

And ClickUp lets you do exactly that with Guest access and unique Permissions

You can manage and control who has access to your Workspace, and you can invite stakeholders as Guests to edit and leave comments. 

Additionally, Permission settings will help you determine the do’s and don’ts of your Workspace. For instance, your Guests will have limited access to your Workspace and won’t see any tasks, Lists, or Folders that you haven’t shared with them.

Star Trek characters saying permission granted commander

E. Keep your roadmap updated

Since certain deliverables, due dates, and priorities can often change as you progress through your project, it’s important to reflect those changes in your roadmap too.

This ensures that your team works according to the latest requirements and guidelines.

Referring to an outdated roadmap makes as much sense as following 2012’s calendar today.

Challenges of Using a Roadmap Compared to Other Project Management Approaches

Sure, an agile roadmap guides both the internal team and external stakeholders. 

However, you’ll need more than just a project roadmap to handle complex projects and cross-functional teams successfully.

It’s like how you can’t go on a treasure hunt with just a map in hand. You’ll also need the right gear and equipment!

To understand the shortcomings of roadmap project management, here’s a quick table comparing it with other project management approaches:

A comparison of roadmap project management with lean, scrum, kanban, and waterfall project management approaches.
Project management approachHow it worksHow it differs from roadmap project management
Lean project management It’s highly focused on delivering customer value faster and optimizes workflow by eliminating wastes like long waiting times and defects. Roadmap project management involves a lot of feedback loops and updates, which can delay the project.

On the other hand, lean project management eliminates time-consuming and wasteful processes. 
Scrum project management It breaks complex projects into different stages of development known as sprints. Scrum teams are encouraged to self-organize and track project progress with tools like burndown charts Roadmaps only offer basic, high-level timeline estimates.

But Scrum project management encourages teams to create accurate sprint estimates to help them set task-level deadlines. 
Kanban project management Based on the agile methodology, the Kanban approach helps teams track project progress by moving cards through different stages on a board (Kanban board). A roadmap needs to be updated right away whenever any change occurs since it’s the project’s sole baseline and isn’t split into stages.

But in Kanban project management, you can incorporate feedback as a project progresses, since projects are broken down into smaller development cycles, just like agile project management.  
Waterfall project management This approach encourages teams to complete one phase before moving on to another. There’s no overlapping in the phases. Roadmap project management gives a basic overview of the plan without diving into the granular details about each step.

However, Waterfall project management requires extensive documentation for every phase of the project, which helps teams understand their role and tasks better. 

Psst… ClickUp’s project management roadmap template can help you knock out any challenge you might face with roadmap project management or any other approach for that matter. 🥊

But despite its challenges, roadmaps still go a long way in helping you succeed at project management. And that brings us to… 

4 Major Benefits of Roadmap Project Management

Opening up random internet tabs, browsing through Instagram (for research of course), and finally figuring out how Excel works is all fine when you’re just pretending to work

But with both clients and teammates depending on you, you’ll eventually have to step up and do the work!

Fortunately, with a project roadmap, you’ll know exactly what your clients expect from you and how your work ties into the larger objective.

Here are some other ways roadmap project management can benefit your team and stakeholders:

1. Helps you hold an effective project kickoff

Like a project charter, project roadmaps give teams a detailed plan of action so that they can anticipate upcoming tasks. This way, employees are more prepared to take on the work challenges and score every project goal successfully. 

2. Communicates project goals and plans

Since a project roadmap includes all the specific tasks, individual responsibilities, and expected outcomes of the project, your team can always refer to the roadmap to make sure they’re working towards those goals.

And not on that new social media challenge!

On top of that, communicating project goals via roadmaps also boosts transparency. This way, your business can avoid going down the road of keeping your employees in the dark.

Eyes blinking in the dark saying hmmm

3. Helps teams prioritize tasks and make informed decisions

The roadmap lays out deliverables and dependencies in a visual format and helps teams work towards the most important goals first. 

Additionally, having clear priorities helps your team focus more on project milestones and less on their Netflix marathon milestones.

4. Helps you keep stakeholders in the loop

Roadmaps can help you communicate your organization’s goals and product strategy to stakeholders very easily. 

From one look at the roadmap, your stakeholders are aware of your goals and timelines.

Additionally, since your stakeholders have real-time access to your roadmap, they can keep track of project progress and any bottlenecks that pop up.

As an added bonus, it helps you avoid those annoying after-hours client calls!

Take the Road to Success!

Roadmap project management is crucial to your project success. 

Being the solid foundation of your project plan, a project roadmap is like the North Star preventing your team from going astray. 

With ClickUp, you can successfully piece together different areas of the project management puzzle. 🧩

From sharing work updates with Custom Task Statuses to automating routine tasks with Automations, ClickUp can help you improve team collaboration and increase project efficiency. 

Switch to ClickUp for free today and juggle all your tasks like a confident ringmaster!

Man juggling on stage black and white gif

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