Do you feel the same as I did?

Do our designers love to work with no boundaries of timelines, no involvement in roadmap building?

Aligning requirements, timelines & follow up is painful.

Our deadlines are always missed, delivery quality is not as expected.

Planner/tracker tools are too complex to use.

We have a small team of designers, do we really need to have roadmaps?

We know the benefits of roadmap planning but can’t afford premium tools.

Team’s KPI & goal reviews are a nightmare.

Why you need to have simple & effective roadmap

In an organizational setup, we need to understand that every department has different Goals & KPIs, tasks and their roadmap will be different too. The Product design team needs to ensure that their Goals are aligned with organizational Goals.

The success of any project depends on whether it is delivered on or before its scheduled time. And as your team keeps delivering projects successfully, the more your team will grow. However, we will all agree that it is not possible to achieve deadlines without planning.

As you grow, you need to have a roadmap for each quarter, aligned with business goals. You and your team have to follow that.

Wait for a second!

Over the 10 years of my work experience, I have seen many delivery failures in these years. I realize building a project roadmap is not much of an issue. But, monitoring it every day is a challenge. Forcing the team to follow by means of constant reminders and punishment for non=adherence does not work well; in fact, they end up hurting the team.

For a Product Design Team Lead, it is very important to create a roadmap for any project, before it starts. The Lead also needs to break down each and every task with keeping in mind the team’s Goals & KPIs for the Project and then accordingly, estimate the timelines.

I will not go on to tell you to learn some roadmap tools. There are lots of tools available that help you to create a roadmap. Some will be your favorite too. Most of the available roadmap tools have lots of features and possibilities to do; on the other hand, they also bring along complexity.

Fail Fast

Being a design manager you have to create a roadmap for your team. As you would be well aware that a team will have all types of people — some of them adapt quickly while some may not. In the end, if your team is not adopting the new tools and means, then your roadmap tracking takes a big hit.

Daily 5-minute standup meetings will help only to exchange activity with each other. Aligning every one with the roadmap and keeping everyone on track without team contribution will be a nightmare. I used to try multiple tools (one by one) to find a cost-effective & easy to manage solution but there is no one-stop solution I could find.

Learn Faster

Over a period of time, I understood the common patterns and elements of a product roadmap and decided to create my own.

First started with the following items to start.

  1. Easy to customize as per requirement & adoptive

2. Product name & design tasks

3. Define timeline

4. Task status labels e.g. Planned, Inprocess, Review, Complete.

5. Timeline

6. Owner

7. Remarks

Decided to go with Google Spreadsheets for this, I planned a roadmap for a quarter and made myself to use that on a regular basis, for this experiment duration I collected the feedback from my teammates and keep it improving till the next quarter.

After 3 months of experience, get the following items on the roadmap.

1. Add team members

2. Easy to customize as per requirement & adoptive

3. Breakdown product design tasks

  • Task detail
  • Project
  • Goal
  • KPI
  • Task

4. Define timeline

5. Task status labels

  • Open Item: Where details are unknown.
  • Planning: When you need to know the unknown.
  • Planned: When you get to freeze the requirement and have sorted all unknown to known
  • In-process: When you & your team started work
  • Designed: When design ready for the review
  • Review: When you send it to for review
  • Complete: Post review deliver it to the next team
  • Behind: when some dependent tasks need to be done before this or are in the ‘hold’ situation.
  • Blocked: When dependency occurred, need clearance

6. Start & End Date

7. Owner

8. Followup

9. Remarks

Roadmap Screenshot

Feel Free to Use the Product Roadmap Template.


For the next quarter added more elements on it as given above. Started the designer’s involvement while creating a roadmap, connect them with the vision and business goals, ask for the timeline. I felt one most important sentiment here once designers committed the timeline they own it.

I found everyone on the team started contributing to it by himself and maintaining it daily basis without any constant reminders. With $0 spent on the tools, Keeps delivering projects successfully on time.

I have shared my thoughts and methods with you all with the hope that this might be useful for someone. Please comment here to share your thoughts and also share how you create roadmaps and manage the team. I am always eager to add to my knowledge. 🙂