Roadmap HEROES Framework

At Roadmap Heroes, I believe there are 6 key areas to consider when creating, managing and sharing your roadmaps.

I’ve created a handy mnemonic to help you remember them: HEROES.

Let’s explore each area in more detail.

High-level Strategy

A high-level strategy is a broad and overarching set of principles, models, and documents that describe a future trajectory. It may be defined at different layers of an organisation from the company level down to the various functions and products.

The strategy should be more than just mission, vision, and values. It should take into consideration factors such as the competitive landscape, market trends, and customer needs.

Strategy typically covers a period of several years and is often developed by senior executives and other key stakeholders within an organisation. An output from this process might be a cadence of long-term goals and objectives, a set of customer and business outcomes / problems we want to solve, a strategic roadmap or other similar concepts designed to help focus effort and resources.

The strategy should be flexible enough to adapt to changes in the business environment, such as new technologies, shifts in consumer behaviour or feedback from execution.

Done well, the strategy acts as a framework for direction and decision-making, guiding and aligning the entire company.

Exploration

Exploration and discovery describe the work required to understand user and business problems so that we can make better decisions on how we might solve them.

Teams research and validate these problems through a variety of techniques including assessments, fact finding, tests, and experiments.

For some companies, exploration is a stage in a linear product process later followed by execution. For other companies, exploration and execution are more continuous, working in partnership to reduce the uncertainty of product bets as they work towards building effective solutions.

Regardless of the approach, exploration is a critical step in the product process, helping teams to identify real problems to solve and reduce wasted investments and resources later on.

Requests

Requests represent ideas, needs, or feedback from customers and employees.

They might include new features, enhancements, or changes to an existing product or for a new product entirely.

Requests can be received through a variety of channels, including customer support requests, online portals, feedback forms, social media, or direct communication with the product team.

Requests are typically reviewed by the product team to determine feasibility, impact on the product, and alignment with the product’s overall strategy and goals. The product team may also evaluate the request based on the volume of similar requests, the potential value to customers, and the level of effort required to implement the request.

Product requests are an important source of feedback as they provide valuable insights into customer needs, pain points, and opportunities for improvement.

Operations

Roadmap operations encompasses the processes, activities, meetings, and tools needed for the effective planning and implementation of our roadmaps and delivery plans. It should not be thought of as a dedicated role or function but something that should be intrinsic to product management.

Roadmapping is itself a process which should be iterative and continually optimised based on feedback.  Key activities might include high-level resources, budgeting, prioritisation, capacity planning, collaboration across teams, KPIs/metrics, and managing risks. The emphasis on these various activities might be different dependong on whether we are working on the strategic roadmap or the delivery plans.

Both artefacts should be tightly coupled, allowing the roadmap to inform delivery plans but also allow learnings from exploration and execution to validate the roadmap and overarching strategy. Roadmapping should foster frequent two-way communication to ensure transparency and alignment between stakeholders and participating teams.

Effective tooling should be leveraged to support our roadmapping, planning, and execution processes by increasing efficiency in their management and communication.

Executing

Execution involves translating a subset of the near-term strategic roadmap into a series of actionable steps.

This might involve the more granular breakdown of work, distribution across different teams, skillsets or suppliers, synchronising cadences, and managing dependencies. Depending on what is being built, it may also involve certain frameworks or methodologies such as Agile or Scrum.

For some companies, execution is a stage in a linear product process. For other companies, exploration and execution are more continuous, working in partnership to reduce the uncertainty of product bets as they work towards building effective solutions.

Regardless of the approach or methodology it is important to ensure work in the execution phase and delivery plan is aligned with the overarching high-level strategy and strategic roadmap to ensure we move towards our future trajectory.

Sharing

Sharing refers to the process of communicating product roadmap to various audiences, such as customers, investors, internal teams, or other external partners. The goal is to rally all stakeholders around the product’s strategy and priorities, and to build confidence, trust and alignment.

Sharing typically involves creating a visual representation of the roadmap that highlights the key problems, themes or outcomes it will address. The detail from other artefacts may be used to help provide the context of the roadmap from strategic direction though to information on recent delivery.

Sharing the roadmap should also involve soliciting feedback from stakeholders and incorporating that feedback into the product’s direction. This feedback can help identify potential areas of concern or opportunities for improvement, and can help ensure that the product is meeting the needs of its customers and stakeholders.

So there we have it. Now you can see how these 6 areas work together to ensure that we consider roadmapping is an entire process rather than a single page artefact. 

So next time you think Roadmap. Think HEROES.