15 Tech Leaders Share Roadmapping Tools And Techniques They’ve Found Effective

When setting out on a journey, it’s always wise to have a reliable roadmap. The same holds true when it comes to embarking on new tech projects and initiatives. And just as there’s considerable flexibility in terms of routes and guides when planning a trip, tech leaders and project managers have several choices when it comes to tools and techniques for plotting and refining a project roadmap.

With so many options available, a young tech leader or first-time project manager can benefit from the advice and experience of seasoned industry leaders. Below, 15 members of Forbes Technology Council share some roadmapping tools and techniques they’ve found effective and why they work so well.


1. User Personas And User’s Journey Maps

User personas and user's journey maps combine as an effective roadmapping technique. Creating user personas helps you consider their needs and wants; thus, you can make the most user-oriented decisions. By meeting your existing end users’ needs you can increase their loyalty and attract new users. Balancing the needs of existing and new users is important for startups that rush to implement new technologies. - Klaudia Zaika, Apriorit LLC


2. Top-To-Bottom Customer Research

I have found it very effective to include people who truly understand the business from top to bottom in the planning process. Before designing a product, take time to understand how your customer’s business works, from day-to-day operations to high-level leadership reporting. - Bogdan Burlacu, eProp


3. The RICE Model

The RICE model—reach, impact, confidence, effort—is a solid framework. With this model, product managers score competing ideas to gauge how much effort and reach needs to go into a new product and how that effort will impact quantitative successes, such as conversions and sales. This helps teams quickly and objectively evaluate the importance and value of various projects for easier prioritization. - Sonali Shah, Invicti Security


4. Innovative Planning And Work Rollup

We use two levels of roadmaps: innovative planning and work rollup. Many tools only include the work rollup and consider it a roadmap. But product managers need to be able to plan for true innovation and infrastructure and architecture updates, as well as such things as sustainability, security and keeping the lights on. Your tool should allow your PM team to combine these items into a forward-looking plan. - Laureen Knudsen, Broadcom


5. Miro

Miro is a great product roadmapping tool as it not only allows you to look at a product from various angles and depth levels but also lets you collaborate on the product roadmap as a team and in a visual fashion. In a remote work environment, such visual collaboration is essential for business, technical and product teams to stay relevant and connected. - Aleks Farseev,


6. Tying Roadmap Items To Themes

Tie roadmap items to one of three to five key themes for each release period. The content becomes more digestible and memorable for stakeholders while forcing product leaders to organize individual features into strategic buckets aligned to the longer-term vision. - Sayer Martin, Conga


7. Contextual Inquiry

Contextual inquiry is a research method that involves interviewing and observing your customers in their natural environment (context). There is no better way to ensure your roadmap aligns with the needs of your customer than becoming intimately familiar with the problems they face as they naturally live and work. - Kevin Philpott, Pie Insurance


8. Value Ranking

Value ranking—and developing a common language around value—is vital to product roadmapping. Tech leaders are faced with a number of internal and external pressures. To cut through the noise, a sober method value assessment is key. It should incorporate factors such as revenue impact, job size and customer satisfaction. - Colby Thames, Certegy


9. A TIL Dashboard

Create a “Today I Learned” dashboard to capture data from discussions with your customers, partners and competitors. At DataStax, anyone can submit a TIL through our internal messaging bot. All of this data feeds into a dashboard that is available to the entire company. Our product team then uses this information to support the prioritization of specific initiatives. - Chet Kapoor, DataStax


10. JIRA Advanced Roadmap

The roadmapping tool JIRA Advanced Roadmap is incredibly efficient. It allows you to create different views based on the type of intended stakeholder. Though it might initially seem intimidating, with effective sprint and roadmap planning procedures in place, JIRA Advanced Roadmap is a quick and effective tool to track roadmap progress. - Ashish Fernando, iSchoolConnect


11. Wardley Mapping Plus Real-Time Dashboards

I’m a fan of Wardley Mapping—with a real-time twist. After the mapping exercise, it’s critical to track plan progress holistically across all departments. Static reports aren’t enough. Real-time project dashboards, personalized to each stakeholder, that securely integrate sales, project management, and product and marketing systems are critical to ensure project success in your ever-changing enterprise. - Jim Barrett, Edge Total Intelligence


12. ‘Now-Next-Later’ Framework

The “Now-Next-Later” framework has helped me overcome my dislike of roadmaps (as they create delivery commitments that are often neither realistic nor productive to the business) and start using them effectively as a communication tool, both internally and externally. That’s really the purpose of putting together a roadmap in the first place! - Maya Mandel, Helios


13. Collaborative Roadmapping Sessions

While a roadmap is a useful representation of the desired sequence of capabilities, the act of roadmapping, done collaboratively, is more useful. Roadmapping requires collaboration, solutioning and iteration. However, the discovery/delivery cycle can quickly change your roadmap! As for tools, sometimes sticky notes, a whiteboard and PowerPoint do the trick. Using Jira or Snow can make information technology service management easier. - Gavin Hupp, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment


14. Looking At What Your Stakeholder Values

Understanding what level of transparency and context your stakeholder needs is key to determining the proper roadmap to use. We use several variations, with the choice depending on the stakeholder. Some are very high-level, while others are drilled down to the epic and phase of development or production. Know what your stakeholder considers valuable, and constantly use your roadmap to realign expectations. - Jonathan Cardella, Ventive, LLC


15. Aligning To Company Strategy, Vision And Direction

Creating roadmaps is often a way to prioritize customer requests based on deal size. We often forget strategy and vision in the effort to secure short-term profits. Keeping a keen eye on aligning the roadmap to the strategy, vision and direction of the company will help businesses not be blindsided or miss bigger opportunities. - Vishwas Manral, Skyhigh Security