Short introduction to roadmapping

What’s a roadmap and why is it useful?

When you’re starting an open hardware project (or restarting a project, or starting a new phase of a project), it’s important to outline and plan for the work ahead and share that plan with any potential contributors. This way they will know where the project is standing and which intermediate goal you want to reach. Breaking up a big project into bite size pieces helps you to visualize progress and split your development into small actionable steps.

We can do this using a text document we’ll call a “roadmap”. Like a road map you’d use while travelling, this document will help to identify where you are now and how to reach your project’s end goal, as well as the course that you will need to take to get there and which are your intermediate stops. Your roadmap summarizes your vision and includes a timeline for tasks. This a great tool for you –it helps you schedule work and track goals– but it’s key for anyone who might contribute to your project, so they know what’s currently happening on the project, and what’s next.

As you make your Roadmap, you may realize there are dependencies among different tasks. For example, you might need to define the structure of your database before you decide on a strategy for searching it, or you might need to asses the power consumption of the electronics before you finally decide the size of the battery for the first prototype. Creating a Roadmap helps you get a sense of not only all the steps that have to be done on a project are (there are always more than we anticipate), but also how to schedule tasks and plan work efficiently.

HOWTO roadmap

In the next submodules you will learn how to set intermediate goals to divide the long road to your final goal into smaller pieces (“Planning Progress”). Setting realistic time frames and deadlines for your milestone with potential time consuming pitfalls in mind (“Time Management” & “Evaluating Risks”). Use your roadmap to keep track of the projects progress and update it regularly.

Assignment: Define a clear goal you want to achieve with your project.

Before you start a roadmap for your project, you should be sure about it’s goal and vision. Before you go to the next session review of the project’s goal and think of possible intermediate steps which are necessary to reach it.


next: Planning progress  

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