How do I create a Project Roadmap?

Step-by-step Powerpoint Roadmap Template Guide

A Project Roadmap is the best format to communicate project plans to executive boards and stakeholders. Here’s how to create one.

Time needed: 1 hour.

This process walks you through the steps to create your own roadmap slide for a presentation or to share.

  1. Choose your “Workstreams” (or “swim lanes”)

    “Workstreams” are the ongoing, most important delivery areas of your Product / Project.
    You will arrange key activities within these areas.
    There may be just one, and there may be many.
    Our advice is to choose 3-5 workstreams.
    These are also known as “Project Swim Lanes”.Set your workstreams - Three to Five is ideal

  2. Set the Timeframe

    Think: “What timeframe do you need to cover?”
    Be careful – the further in the future you go, the more uncertain. Read up on “the cone of uncertainty”Put a timeline on your roadmap

  3. Establish the important activities in each stream

    Within each Workstream, what are the key areas of activity?
    The could be “Projects” or “Tasks” etc, depending on your kind of product / programme / project.
    Bear in mind that you want the whole roadmap readable within 5 mins, so you do not want lots & lots.Put the important activities in your roadmap

  4. Communicate risk levels

    Use colour coding of the activity boxes in each work stream to indicate levels of risk or certainty.
    Explain your colour coding in a “Legend” at the top.
    You can use “Red Amber Green” or just highlight the Medium and High risks with amber and red.Show the risk levels for each work item in the swim lanes on your roadmap.

  5. Set some Milestones

    You should include a few key dates on the timeline.
    These can be represented as “Milestones”.
    e.g. Launches, handovers, closures, migrations, etc.Set your milestones along the top of the timeline on your roadmap.

  6. Add any other important points

    Bear in mind: your Roadmap tells your story.
    It needs to do that within 5 mins.
    Still,.. are there any other important points you need to highlight?
    If so, then put them in as call-out “comments”!Help tell the story of your roadmap by adding important comments

Some more help for Creating Your Roadmap

Communicating your project plans and strategy in one document is not a simple process.
Project, programme and portfolio managers are increasingly using Roadmap Template formats to establish a clear, shared understanding of project plans, especially at the board and executive level.

Example Project Roadmap Layout

original Visio Roadmap Template

This is our popular Visio Roadmap Template from 2005.

Characteristics of a Project Roadmap

  1. Communicates project plans at a glance
    1. Highlights important milestones
    2. Tells your stakeholders what to expect, and when
  2. Demonstrates the use of the capacity you have available
    1. Demonstrates where your resources and budget are being allocated
    2. Gives a sense of proportional allocation
  3. Draws attention to important issues
    1. Keeps them few
    2. Makes them clear
  4. Gives you a tool to “manage upwards”
    1. Highlights what you need from stakeholders
    2. Manages expectations

Create your Roadmap

Before committing this to an electronic format, sketch it out on a large piece of paper, using pencil and eraser

  1. If you want to save time – you can see some Powerpoint Roadmap examples here.
    1. These roadmap samples can help you with layout ideas.
    2. There are Visio Roadmaps and Powerpoint Roadmaps.
  2. Set out your timeline
    1. How far do you want to show?
    2. Make sure this is going to be a relevant period of time – i.e. don’t go too far into the future
  3. Establish your workstreams
    1. Where are the areas of resource or budget focus?
    2. Work these into discrete “workstreams” of activity
    3. This helps you communicate to your stakeholders and their colleagues where the business is focussing
  4. Work out the high-level activities within each workstream
    1. Keep the level of detail down
    2. e.g. if your entire timeline is 12 months long, don’t include any activities below 1 month long
    3. Keep this realistic – i.e. don’t overload any of the workstreams
  5. If there are areas of high risk – add labels
    1. Resource issues/constraint/risks
    2. Financial issues/constraint/risks
    3. External issues/constraint/risks
  6. Put in your key milestones
    1. In a timeline along the top of your Roadmap, add markers for important dates
    2. Keep these dates realistic
    3. leave plenty of contingency
    4. If a date/milestone is tentative – clearly mark it so
  7. Clearly demark the status of your document
    1. If it is “draft”, clearly label it with “DRAFT” at the top of the document
    2. Give it a version number
    3. If it has been signed off by a key stakeholder, mark this prominently

With all parts of this Roadmap process, try and keep your roadmap document uncluttered.

Then create your electronic version – see the list of templates below if you need a good starting point.

Testing your Roadmap

  • Use a friend or colleage as a guinea pig to test your Roadmap.
  • They should be able to understand your roadmap and your project timelines within 1 minute of looking at it.
  • This is what separates it from a standard “Project Plan”.

Keep your Roadmap up to date

Once created, you must be sure to keep your roadmap up to date.
If you are running an agile process (i.e. regular iterations and regular product releases), keep your Roadmap updated at regular intervals in time with your iterations.

Short on time?

Use these templates to help with business best practice:

Business Topics

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Published :

Last Updated : August 22nd, 2020