Release Dates in Roadmap vs Product Backlog Estimations

Last post 08:58 pm March 1, 2018
by Atacan Demiralp
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05:17 pm March 1, 2018

Hello everyone,

I have a question about timeframes/dates of the Product Roadmap. Assume that you are the PO of a new product. You have prepared a Product Vision board. In the first collaboration with the Scrum Team and the stakeholders, everybody clearly understands the product vision and the product strategy.

Now it's time to create the Product Roadmap which provides direction for the future of the product. You begin to discuss about the goals, features, metrics and deadlines of each release. How can the deadlines or timeframes be estimated during this process? Remember that this is not the Sprint Planning. You do not have user stories, the Product Backlog has not been created yet, they are the next step. Also the release dates cannot be estimated according to value/cost ratio.

As a Product Owner, you know that going agile does not mean you do not need deadlines/time frames. You need to put time estimation in the Product Roadmap.

* Do you ask the development team?

* Do Stakeholders and the Scrum Team decides the release counts and dates together?

* Do these release dates have something to do with backlog item capacity of the Development Team?

* How often should a Product Owner update the product roadmap?

 

05:35 pm March 1, 2018

My advice is to ask a different question. What is the smallest thing that could be built which would validate any of the assumptions being made?

07:53 pm March 1, 2018

Forgive me, I do not understand. I thought that question should be asked to define the very first increment.

Let me ask it in simpler way. Product Owner should specify release dates in a roadmap. How do they estimate them before no user story exists?

08:10 pm March 1, 2018

If I understand your question correctly, you want to know how to establish release dates for a new product with some level of reliability, when all that you have at the moment is a product vision?

Have you been able to produce such target dates in the past for a project/product?   If so, what was the accuracy of such projections?

08:26 pm March 1, 2018

Forgive me, I do not understand. I thought that question should be asked to define the very first increment.

Let me ask it in simpler way. Product Owner should specify release dates in a roadmap. How do they estimate them before no user story exists?

It isn't enough to define an increment. The increment must also be built, released, the associated hypothesis validated and any lessons learned. User stories are placeholders for conversations about such work. Only empirical evidence so obtained can be used to substantiate any future release projections, the scope of the remaining work including any further user stories, the ordering of that work and the expected rate of progress, and to ground any estimates which a Development Team makes.

08:58 pm March 1, 2018

Thank you, Ian for correcting me and for your answer. I get that the past projects/products and any experience should be taken care to make the decision since the Scrum is based on empiricism.

You understand correct, Timothy. At the moment all I have the product vision with no past projects/products done in agile. (This question is related with my master's study. That's why I say "assume") So it is better to start to develop, release and observe the outcome of the first release instead of trying to estimate the future accurately.