Project management tools that make your life easier
Prerequisites

Have completed all previous sections and modules

Materials

Pen or pencil and paper

Reverse planning

When you start building your roadmap, it is usually easier to do it in reverse: Start from final goal and from there plan backwards step for step. This helps you to identify important dependencies and to set timeframes if you have an external deadline you have to keep.

Milestones

Break up the long way to your ultimate goal into smaller pieces and define intermediate goals: your milestones. Milestones can also mark important dates such es external deadlines or events (e.g. a conference where you want to present your project). As with a long road, you should add as many details (= required tasks to complete the milestone) as possible to close milestones and rather outline more distant milestones. You can always add more details, tasks and additional milestones as you work on your project.

In order to define your milestones, use the SMART method we introduced to you in “Staging Your Project”. This means

In the next step, estimate the amount of time you’ll need to reach the milestones and define their timeframe. Try to be realistic and account for possible detours, problems and troubleshooting. Time planing and management is probably the hardest part of roadmap creation. That’s why we dedicated the following submodules “Time Management” and “Evaluating Risks” to these topics. The final step is to set deadlines for your milestones, at least for the close ones. However, this depends on your projects goals and your overall strategy.

The direction of your project might change as the work evolves. Return to your roadmap frequently to update, add or change milestones, and track your progress! You may want to welcome supporters or key participants into any conversation about Roadmapping, as a way of increasing their participation and sense of ownership of the project.

In short:

  1. Define the goal of your project
  2. Define several intermediate goals (milestones). Add as many details as possible.
    • Development goals (specific features or resources you want to create)
    • Meetings and events.
  3. Define time spans for your milestones
  4. Add deadlines to your milestones

Assessing progress and monitor indicators

Tools for planning progress

Luckily there are plenty of tools available which can help you to create and maintain your roadmap and plan your project. A very common and accessible tool is a Kanban board. It visually depicts work at various stages of a process using cards to represent work items and columns to represent each stage of the process. A Kanban board can thus help you to focus on important tasks and to keep track of your short, medium and long-term goals. You can set up a Kanban board with a piece of paper and some sticky notes or use one of the many online tools. Read more about Kanban boards here. An free and easy digital Kanban tool is the GitHub Project Board.

Assignment: “Reverse-plan” and list the milestones and responsibilities for achieving your goal

  • Pick 1-3 milestones for your project.
  • List tasks to complete for each milestone
    • Short description of each task required to successfully complete project work on a milestone.
    • Explaination why you are doing this task (one sentence). This will reinforce your vision for the project and help others see why each step is meaningful in the larger timeline.

Resources

next: Managing time  

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