Challenges with Traditional Roadmap Implementations
The real problem with all roadmaps is that they are, by definition, incorrect. Everyone knows that they are based on guesses and assumptions, but we keep lying to ourselves that they work.
Even worse, we force the teams into accepting our roadmaps, even if they have no idea whether it’s going to happen or not. Then, if they fail to deliver “on time”, a lot of blame is being thrown all over the place, people get frustrated, others get fired and what not. Quite irrational, but that’s what happens in most of the organizations out there.
What’s the way out? Portfolio Kanban and a Kanban Roadmap.
Before digging into the depths of the Portfolio Kanban application for Kanban Roadmap implementations, let’s scratch the topic of Upstream Kanban otherwise known as Customer Kanban.
Upstream Kanban / Customer Kanban
As Patrick Steyaert explains in the article “Customer Kanban – from customer push to customer pull”, Upstream Kanban (Customer Kanban) is:
Upstream Kanban visualizes the demand in terms of options that are explored to define and select the work items that will be committed.
Everything else aside, thinking in terms of options is critical to getting to a better understanding of how a Kanban Roadmap works. All non-started projects are options visualized as Kanban cards on the “Requested” area of the Kanban board. Even if a given project is committed, unless it’s been started, it’s still an option that we can choose to execute or not.
Portfolio Kanban and a Kanban Roadmap
As explained in the What is Portfolio Kanban article, here is what Portfolio Kanban is all about:
- Visualize projects on a global level in the form of a Portfolio Kanban Board
- Signal for blockages and bottlenecks in underlying processes
- Limit the overall number of projects across the organization
- Easily measure the overall lead time or cycle time for both individual projects and sets of projects
The key to our Portfolio Kanban Roadmap implementation is to visualize the options that we want to invest in and allow our stakeholders to prioritize at any time, as long as the option has not been executed (started).
After an option has been executed (the project has been started), we shall do our best to complete it in the fastest way possible, without caring how much time exactly it takes. This sounds like heresy, but in most of the cases, we only need to know that a project is smaller than X days / months / years. If we suspect that a given option would turn out to be too big, we should break it down before it’s actually started and execute the different parts as separate, standalone projects.
Are you are now ready to setup your own Portfolio Kanban board? Try our Portfolio Kanban implementation in Kanbanize.