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9 Min. Read

What Is a Project Roadmap & How to Create One

What Is a Project Roadmap

Would you ever go on a road trip without knowing your destination? For some, that might present some exciting opportunities. For others, it would be out of the question.

Project managers fall into the latter category. They need to know where a project is heading before it begins. This includes an overview of different tasks, completion dates, and team members. 

That’s what project roadmaps are for. They are simple but essential guides to managing a successful project. Keep reading to learn all you need to know about project roadmaps.

Table of Contents

What Is a Project Roadmap?

What Are the Key Components in a Project Roadmap?

What Is the Need for a Project Roadmap?

An Overview of How to Create a Project Roadmap

Project Roadmap Creation Tips

Project Roadmap Examples

Key Takeaways

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is a Project Roadmap?

A project roadmap is a detailed plan that outlines what a project should look like in terms of goals and deliverable dates. It is not a linear timeline. Instead, it captures project milestones, objectives, deliverables, resources, and timelines.

Project roadmaps are essential for any project manager. It helps them plan every step of their work. It also allows them to communicate with their team and stakeholders about what they’re working on and how they will reach their goals.

Track Dollars And Sense

What Are the Key Components in a Project Roadmap?

A good project roadmap will help you identify potential risks, issues, or challenges in advance. This way, you can have a plan in place for how to overcome them.

Project roadmaps should include the following:

Project scope: This is the “big picture” of the project. It details what you want to achieve in the end. 

Deliverables: These are items that the project team delivers by the end of the project. You can also think of them as project “outputs”.

High-level timeline: This is an outline of how to complete the project. It lists the significant milestones in chronological order.

Milestones: These events on a project’s timeline indicate a shift to a new project phase.

Potential risks: There are several potential risks that can arise with a project. These may include  issues with team members, resourcing, or environmental constraints. These may cause the project to go off-schedule or exceed the budget.

Resource allocation: Here, you calculate estimates of financial costs and human resource allocation.

Stakeholders and partners: Identify the key decision-makers in the project here. Also, show what people the project will impact.

What Is the Need for a Project Roadmap?

A project roadmap plays a crucial role in any project’s success. It’s a touchpoint that all project stakeholders can refer to. And it helps teams stay on track.

Project roadmaps help organise all the most important aspects of a project. And they do so without going into overwhelming detail. Having a bird’s-eye view is essential for prioritising tasks and creating a more in-depth project plan.

Here are some other ways a project roadmap can help you carry out a successful project:

  • It keeps your team accountable. The project roadmap ensures that everyone knows the project schedule and their deliverables.
  • It facilitates communication between team members. And stakeholders can use it to manage their expectations.
  • It improves coordination between teams and enhances collaboration.
  • It provides visibility for the project. This lets teams know where they fit within the scope of a project. And it reduces the chances of critical oversight.

An Overview of How to Create a Project Roadmap

We recommend creating a new project roadmap using FreshBooks’s project management software. And while each roadmap may look different depending on the industry and project goals, they often follow a similar pattern. This pattern often includes the following steps:

1. Define Objectives

The first step is to set high-level goals. What is the project trying to achieve? You should be able to answer this question in trackable terms. This allows the team to measure their success later.

2. Establish Priorities

Which actions should your team complete before other actions can proceed? Can certain activities overlap? Determining your priorities is critical for a well-structured roadmap.

3. Input Key Information

This is the moment to add more information essential to the project. Be precise without going into too much detail. Include details like team members, resources, risks, and dependencies.

4. Create Project Timeline

In this step, match key deliverables with specific due dates. Make sure to set clear milestones for different phases to help define progress.

5. Review

Take a step back and look at what you’ve created. Then engage partners and key stakeholders in the review process to gauge how well you’ve communicated the project. Revise for clarity and further detail as necessary.

As we said, FreshBooks offers easy-to-use Projects Management software. It’s great for project managers looking to collaborate with other clients and team members. It allows you to review all tracked time from you and your project team members. And it displays all invoices and expenses associated with the project.

Creating a Project with FreshBooks is simple. All you have to do is go to the Projects section and click on the New Project button. Next, navigate to the Clients or Estimates section. 

From there, you can assign Projects to clients, edit project information, set billable rates, and more. There’s also a helpful discussion section to enhance collaboration.

Project Roadmap Creation Tips

Even though project roadmaps should be simple presentations, creating them takes time and effort. Here are some tips to follow for thoughtful project roadmapping:

  • Make it your first step. You should always create a project roadmap before any detailed planning occurs. It’s better to start with a wide-angle view before zeroing in on specific tasks and responsibilities.
  • Present it in the kickoff meeting. A roadmap is visually simple, making it ideal for sharing with others in a group setting. Showing your roadmap in the kickoff meeting gives key stakeholders a high-level overview of the project to help them share in your vision. Some teams even use the kickoff meeting to develop the roadmap together.
  • Keep it updated. A project roadmap doesn’t have to be set in stone. If you need to adjust deadlines or shift roles around, update the project roadmap. This is the document that teams can refer to throughout the project’s cycle. So, it should be regularly edited for accuracy.
  • Be precise. Just because it’s an overview, doesn’t mean the information should be vague. Project roadmaps should be easily digestible. And they should contain enough detail to communicate actionable objectives.
  • Include contact information. Remember to include the details of how to reach team members and key stakeholders. This makes it easier for everyone involved to contact the people responsible for individual tasks.
  • Leave room for flexibility. It’s better to leave some wiggle room instead of inputting tight deadlines. Not everything will go according to the project plan. So, it’s best to prepare for the unexpected.
  • Use project management software. The right tool makes it easier to plan and manage your project from start to finish. Integrate with software from FreshBooks to make your life easier. 

Project Roadmaps Examples

Different types of roadmaps will be best suited to certain types of projects. Here’s a brief rundown of some of the more popular categories:

  • Strategic roadmaps help you to visualise long-term goals. These are the highest-level overviews of strategic priorities and organisation-wide initiatives.
  • Product roadmaps define the strategy for developing a single product. They’re highly specific and cover the project’s journey from initiation to launch and beyond.
  • Features roadmaps describe the timeline for developing individual product features. This type of roadmap gets down to the most granular level of product development.
  • Multiple project roadmaps help project managers track projects that run simultaneously. They’re a good way to see how different projects impact each other.
  • Sprint roadmaps are common in agile environments. They track concurrent sprints of different teams as they work towards the same project objectives.
Raise a Hand If You Know Which Projects Are Profitable

Key Takeaways

A project roadmap is an overview of the goals and deliverables of a project in graphical form, presented on a timeline. Unlike the project plan, which includes detail and minutiae, the roadmap should be simple. 

A project roadmap is a highly effective tool. It’s especially great for communicating with stakeholders and coordinating internal teams. It also helps manage expectations.

A good project roadmap will help you identify risks, issues, or challenges in advance. Then you can have a plan in place to overcome them. It can also serve as a communication tool. This way, everyone involved in the project understands their duties and their deliverables.

Did you know you can collaborate directly with clients and team members inside your FreshBooks account? Click here to learn more about creating and managing projects in FreshBooks.

FAQs on Project Roadmap

Is a Project Roadmap a Gantt Chart?

No, Gantt charts and project roadmaps serve different purposes. Project roadmaps are high-level visualisations that show start and end dates for different phases and tasks. In contrast, Gantt charts help visualise specific deliverables. They’re more detailed than project roadmaps.

What Is the Difference Between a Project Plan and a Roadmap?

A project plan acts as a guide for the project team. It provides insight into how your team will meet project objectives. It may include project requirements, task lists, timelines, job descriptions, and resources. A project roadmap is a visual representation of the project plan. It outlines goals, work, and delivery of the project.

Is a Roadmap a Plan?

A roadmap differs from a plan in that it’s only an overhead view of a more detailed project plan. It helps visualise the link between project variables and how they contribute to project success. It isn’t meant to serve as a comprehensive plan or detailed guidebook to the project.

What Is a Strategy Roadmap?

A strategy roadmap is another term for a project roadmap. It describes 2 essential factors of a project—the what and the why. In other words, it outlines the strategic approach to the project.

What Are the Different Types of Roadmaps?

There are several different types of project roadmaps, depending on your team’s needs. For example, strategic roadmaps and theme roadmaps are good for high-level project management. Feature roadmaps or sprint roadmaps help manage projects on a more granular level.