items that need immediate attention, new marketing outreach initiatives, and then strategic projects to organize and develop the internal infrastructure. Correct prioritization of feature set, and planning a proper release that will address the executive strategy, are serious challenges for the product manager and the agile project teams.
Lack of fast feedback, inability to change course direction based on new priorities, and reluctance to gather inputs from multiple stakeholders can throw the team off track quite easily. To deal with this, the agile team introduced a tiered approach to develop and execute the roadmap. The tiered approach made sure that everyone’s voice was heard. To support this approach, the project moved from its initial one-week sprint to a two-week sprint to ensure the availability of sufficient lag to alter priorities for the teams without overburdening the release cycles.
At the client company, each product request in the roadmap was judged on multiple parameters to make sure that the roadmap consisted of feature sets that delivered maximum business value and remained aligned with the corporate strategy. A few of the key questions that were considered for building and prioritizing the roadmap are:
- What is the business value for the product?
- Is the new feature considered a legal obligation for the market?
- Does the new product provide a distinct competitive advantage in the marketplace?
- How much can the proposed product leverage the newly created infrastructure?
- Which product can help launch or promote new or emerging lines of business?
- Will the new product allow the stakeholders to reach and exploit new marketing geographies?
- How much will it cost to launch the new product?
- Is there a need to build follow-up modules to the product?
- Is this a new product a catch-up with rest of the players in the market?
- Is there a partner obligation for the product launch schedule?
- Are all necessary resources available for the product to be implemented?
- ·Which product addresses the most demanding stakeholder group in the company?
The idea was to initially create and maintain two backlogs for the product roadmap: one for all the bugs and enhancement requests; the second for all high business value products and new feature requests. Unless the bugs and enhancements were deemed to be critical, or if there was not enough work for the whole team, the sprint focus of the project team was always dedicated to new features and high value business products based on prioritization from the product manager.
The team adopted a quick feedback model to ensure that the project teams, distributed across the world, had visibility into the prioritized product roadmap, enabling them to them to stay focused on delivering the right projects. This provided the product owner and the stakeholders bandwidth to prioritize the project backlog based on the business realities of cost and implementation timeline.
What to work on from the product roadmap?
Once an initial draft of the roadmap was created, loaded with multiple new products and features, the challenge facing the organization was to make sure that the agile project teams were dedicated to working on the right products selected from that roadmap. This is where we had to extend the bandwidth of the product manager by introducing full time business analysts to the project. Figure 3 outlines the different phases, and the key groups involved in active collaboration in each of these phases. The process of selection of projects from the roadmap for implementation consisted of four logical and overlapping phases, to which each product is subjected. We divided our effort to make a project Go/No-Go decision into 4 different, yet cohesively connected buckets: