Forecasting for Scrum Teams with Roadmaps
A roadmap is a complementary practice that a Scrum Team might use to forecast upcoming deliveries or to translate Product Backlog items into a visual representation. When multiple Scrum Teams work together on a single product, these teams should share a single Product Backlog and, therefore, a single forecast or roadmap.
A roadmap can provide stakeholders with an easy-to-understand visual of the feature deliveries planned in the Product Backlog. Keep in mind that while a roadmap expresses the team’s plans, it is not a promise or a commitment. Scrum is an agile framework used in complex environments where more is unknown than known. Like a weather forecast, a roadmap is never set in stone. As the 2020 Scrum Guide puts it, “Only what has already happened may be used for forward-looking decision making.”
Below are a few roadmap templates. Give them a try, and let me know what you think in the comments section!
Simple PDF Roadmap
Sometimes the simplest method is best. A simple PDF with the product’s name, Product Goal, and two or three upcoming deliverables is a great way to visualize theProduct Backlog for internal and external stakeholders. If desired, include either current or target metrics with the description of each deliverable to provide context around expected impacts.
Now, Next, Later
Another simple but powerful communication tool is a simple “now, next, later” table. If a Scrum Team does not have a steady velocity or experiences frequently changing business needs, this format can communicate plans without forecasting a delivery date. The visual shows what the team is working on now, what it plans to work on next, and tentative plans for what it might work on later. As the team matures and develops a steady pace, either through adopting flow metrics or gaining a steady velocity, then the roadmap can be expanded to provide more detail in terms of current date forecasts.
Roadmap with Success Measures
Another simple way to communicate the roadmap is to show upcoming targets by quarter (or month, or whatever works for your team.) This format includes an area for the team to provide a summary of what they are planning to deliver in addition to the specific features.
Infograpify is a third-party website that provides a host of templates for roadmaps, problem-solving, and more. If you are looking for attractive templates to communicate your roadmap to customers or stakeholders, I highly recommend Infograpify. They have a one-time access fee that allows members to download an unlimited number of templates, including roadmaps, fishbone diagrams, Gantt charts, funnel diagrams, and hundreds of other types of visuals that can amp up your stakeholder communications.
Using a roadmap in your Scrum practice is a way to increase transparency with stakeholders by providing a visual representation of the Scrum Team’s plans. Be warned, though, not providing a specific deliverable date is better than including one you might miss. Scrum is best used in complex environments where more is unknown than known. Providing a roadmap in a complex environment can be helpful, but it does not replace empiricism, which is making decisions based on what is known. Everyone accessing the roadmap must understand that the team might adapt and change plans as more information becomes known. So, consider the roadmap as you would a weather forecast rather than something set in stone.
What to learn more about Scrum?
- Applying Professional Scrum
- Introductory class for those new to Scrum
- Professional Scrum Master
- Geared towards Scrum Masters coaching teams
- Professional Scrum Master II
- Advanced class for Scrum Masters
- Professional Agile Leadership
- For leaders and managers of agile teams
- Professional Scrum Product Owner
- For Product Owners