Product Managers are often tasked with creating and maintaining a Product Roadmap. There are many types of roadmap - so PMs should choose one that’s most helpful to the team and surrounding stakeholders.
It’s best practice for product teams to have autonomy. Many PMs struggle to win an autonomy mandate and face top down prioritisation.
The Tension Roadmap helps in top-down prioritisation situations, and it’s particularly helpful if you’re clashing over priorities with your stakeholders.
Anatomy of the Tension Roadmap
- Columns represent the tensions you have → Each column is a theme. To highlight tensions, choose 3 themes that represent those tensions. Retail Example:
- Column 1 - Ad-hoc company wide marketing campaigns
- Column 2 - Re-platforming and technical debt
- Column 3 - Increasing retention
- Rows represent team development time. The sum of the rows should represent your entire capacity for the time period. Choose a time period that makes sense, based on team’s speed, capacity and how often you have prioritisation conversations with stakeholders (4-26 weeks).
- Cards represent features, experimentation or discovery work. Choose your columns so that each card belongs to just one theme. Cards have different vertical heights, depending on their expected size / effort. A card could span multiple rows. Continuing the retail example:
- Card 1 - Halloween Marketing Campaign Support
- Card 2 - Customer Data Platform Enhancements
- Card 3 - Discovery work to understand churn
- Rows and Cards → The order of the cards represents priority and sequence, put the cards with the highest priority towards the top. Importantly: Only allow one card per row.
The result is a clear picture, you’re showing how you’re spending your effort across your tension themes. Importantly, if a theme isn’t getting enough attention, it’s not going to have any cards and it’s going to show.