What is a Project Roadmap?

A project roadmap is an extremely detailed picture of a project’s deliverables. It gives a clear overview of what is expected to happen at certain times during the project life cycle. A project management roadmap is an important tool as it allows stakeholders to keep track of project milestones and helps with the coordination and communication of different elements of the project.

Developing a roadmap for a project plan takes time because a typical project roadmap indicates project timelines. It also clearly itemizes the risks involved in the project, what impact the project would make, highlights the project specifications, communicates where the team is headed – helping to align their daily tasks with the project’s overall goals and defines success factors.  

This is an important aspect of project management as it acts as a guide for the project manager who is set to kick off a project and helps promote a shared understanding amongst stakeholders and members of the project team.

However, it should be noted that the project plan is subject to change during the course of the project.

How to Create a Project Management Roadmap

1. Define the Project plan and examine key components

This stage is all about defining what the project is and creating a project plan to guide the execution of the project. It comprises of documents that indicate how risks would be managed, what would be deemed “quality work”, how staffing is to be done and what training would be done for staff.

It also lists communication strategy, procurement plans and any plans for handling project deviations or discrepancies. The project plan in project management is often misconstrued; therefore it is pertinent that the project manager explains the details of the planning process so as to elicit buy-in and commitment.

In summary, this is the core of every project manager’s work.

2.  Definition and Assignment of Roles and Responsibilities

You should clearly identify all the key stakeholders in the project roadmap while keeping the organizational structure as simple as possible.

A clear organizational structure has the Executive Sponsor – This is the manager that holds the most interest in the outcome of the project.

Next, you have the Project Director/Sponsor – The project sponsor is responsible for securing resources for the project. The sponsor is seen as a major decision maker and secures spending authority.

You also have the Steering Committee – These could be representatives of all the organizations involved in the execution of the project or those who have a special interest in the end result of the project.

Finally, you have the project team, the customers/user groups, and the vendors.

3. You have identified the key stakeholders; it’s time to hold a kickoff meeting and this is why:

  • The kickoff meeting sets the tempo of the project
  • It is an opportunity for all members of the project team to get to meet each other and familiarize themselves with their individual roles.
  • A great kickoff meeting clarifies gray areas in the project and ensures there are no miscommunication.

Primarily, the kickoff meeting is supposed to be a brief meeting that ensures that members of the project team are sufficiently motivated to committing fully to the project and makes certain everyone is on the same page.

To facilitate your understanding of what this entails, you can read our post on Project Kickoff Meeting: 7 Key Elements for Success.

4.  Development of the Project Scope Statement

The scope statement is a document that contains details of the project deliverables, its constraints, and assumptions. It must be included in the project plan as it is a legally binding agreement between the project manager and the sponsor.

The scope statement in the project roadmap:

  • Highlights the organization’s needs
  • The project’s objectives
  • The justification for the project
  • Identifies key deliverables
  • Defines milestones for the project

For more information, you can also read up our article on Five Best Practices for Project Scope Management.

5. Development of the Project’s Baselines for the Project Roadmap

Here the project manager is required to;

  • Identify the activities that are necessary to achieve deliverables
  • Identify the resources required for those activities
  • Estimate the length of time it would take to achieve those tasks as well as the costs
  • Outline constraints and develop a critical path as well as schedules for all the individual tasks
  • Develop a cost baseline for the project.

Figuring out when to set a baseline for the budget is one of the biggest issues a project manager would have to contend with.

A cost baseline is a time-phased budget that monitors and measures the cost of performance throughout the lifecycle of the project. It is the responsibility of the project manager to publish the baseline as a means of tracking actual performance as the project progresses and a new baseline can only be added when the project scope changes.

6. Analysis of project risks and quality

This is where the criteria for acceptance is agreed upon and the identification of metrics for determining the quality of the project is done. The objective of this section is more about minimizing errors and variances during the project life cycle rather than setting baselines for inspection and final acceptance.

The risk management part of this section analyzes the risks involved in carrying out the project, assesses its impact and develops plans for responding to them in the event of an occurrence.

7. Develop a Communication Plan

This is an essential part of the project roadmap as it addresses how issues within the project would be escalated, it stipulates processes for review and changes in the project plan. It clear states where information would be stored and who would have access to it, information distribution channels and minutes of meetings.

In Conclusion

The project management roadmap considers every element and task necessary for successfully executing a project. It defines roles and responsibilities of the project team and stakeholders.

It also ensures the project manager has control of all aspects of the project, helps identify important project milestones & key deliverables and assists the project team in developing plans for addressing risks and constraints.