Scrum Roadmaps: Guide, Examples, and Template
Scrum roadmaps help your team align and work together so they know what’s coming in the next sprints.
Does your team use Scrum or a similar agile framework?
Then you might want to structure your product roadmap based on your sprints.
In this article, I’ll cover what Scrum roadmaps are, their pros, cons, and how to make them.
Scrum roadmaps—TL; DR
- Scrum roadmaps are a type of roadmap designed to support the scrum framework of building software. They’re flexible, customer-centric, and structure your work in sprints.
- Scrum roadmaps are one type of agile roadmap. There are other types of agile roadmaps, like Kanban roadmaps.
- There’s no single right way to make them. The most effective scrum roadmap is the one that supports the specific development processes you use in your team.
- Benefits of scrum roadmaps include that they are flexible. Drawbacks include that they can be short-term focused and provide less certainty about what product you’ll build.
What is a scrum roadmap?
A scrum product roadmap is a visual planning tool that helps make it clear what features and improvements are in your development workflow for the upcoming sprints. A scrum roadmap gets everyone on the same page about what functionality you’ll build, initiatives you’ll take, and when.
Scrum is an implementation of an agile way of working. For that reason, scrum roadmaps typically employ many of the principles of agile product management:
- They’re flexible and normally don’t use rigid timelines and milestones
- They’re customer-centric, emphasizing the value of features to customers
- They’re built to deliver software relatively quickly
Scrum roadmap example
Here’s an example of a scrum roadmap. In this example, each sprint represents a month and it includes the work of many different teams.
*Here’s an example of an agile roadmap for Scrum, with time frames broken down by sprint. *Source.
Scrum product roadmap example 2
Here’s another example of a scrum roadmap. This example might be more appropriate for a single development or product team, as opposed to several different teams. Note that this Scrum roadmap is built on a board in a similar style to a Kanban board with each card representing a feature or user story.
In this scrum roadmap example, sprints are organized as columns on a Kanban-style board. Notice that customer data is also displayed to help PMs provide their team context about why each feature was prioritized.
Is a scrum roadmap right for you?
A scrum roadmap can be useful, but it might not be the perfect fit for every team. Here are the advantages, disadvantages, and how to decide if it’s the right roadmap type for your team.
Here are some of the advantages of using Scrum roadmaps.
- Flexibility and adaptability. Scrum roadmaps are designed to accommodate changes. They allow teams to adapt to new insights, feedback, or market changes rapidly without derailing the entire plan.
- Transparency and collaboration. Scrum roadmaps foster communication and collaboration. They provide visibility into the product development process, aligning everyone in the team on what's being worked on, the progress made, and what's next.
- Prioritization. The roadmap allows you to visualize which new product features your team has prioritized. That makes it easier to have conversations about whether the priority makes sense and justify the product decisions you’ve made.
While Scrum roadmaps offer many benefits, they also come with some drawbacks:
- Short-term focus. The iterative, sprint-focused nature of Scrum encourages teams to think in short-term chunks. A scrum roadmap can become overly focused on short-term tasks and sprints, which could lead your team to lose sight of the long-term strategic goals.
- Dependency on stakeholder engagement. Scrum roadmaps rely heavily on ongoing stakeholder feedback and collaboration. If stakeholders are not committed to this level of engagement, it can lead to misaligned expectations or a lack of clarity.
- Less predictability. Because they are designed to embrace changes, scrum roadmaps may provide less certainty on the final product's specifics or the exact timeline for delivery compared to traditional project management approaches.
- Scope creep. If not carefully managed, the flexibility of Scrum can lead to scope creep, where the project’s requirements continue to grow and change, potentially leading to delays or resource strain. This is a risk of the scrum method in general, but it’s especially relevant to product roadmapping.
When to use an agile roadmap
Choosing to use a Scrum roadmap should be based on the context and specific needs of your team and the project at hand. Here are some situations where a Scrum roadmap might be the right choice:
- You use scrum. Really, this roadmap is specifically designed for teams who already use scrum to organize their work. If you use scrum, a scrum roadmap is a no-brainer. If you don’t, it probably makes sense to look for another product roadmap type.
- Dynamic and uncertain environment. If your industry is highly dynamic with frequent changes or updates in technology, customer preferences, or market conditions, a scrum roadmap allows you to quickly adapt and respond to these changes.
- Complex projects. Scrum roadmaps shine for complex projects where there's uncertainty about the best approach or solution. When you plan new features in short, iterative sprints, you make the best use of your learning and you can change courses easily if you need to.
- Emphasizing customer-centric development. Scrum roadmaps are a good fit when your product development process is strongly geared toward fulfilling customer needs and delivering high customer value. The iterative feedback and improvement process underscore the importance of shipping quality features that truly meet user needs.
Remember, there is no 'one-size-fits-all' approach in project management. The best methodology is always the one that suits your team, your project, and your organizational culture the best.
How to make a scrum roadmap
Creating a Scrum roadmap is an iterative process that requires input and collaboration from various stakeholders, including product owners, Scrum masters, and the development team. Here are the general steps to create one.
Step 1: Establish your vision
Start by defining the product's overall vision. What are the high-level goals and objectives you want to achieve with your product? This vision acts as a guiding light for the entire development process.
Learn more: Product vision guide
As part of that exercise, decide on your specific business and product goals for the sprint, month, or quarter, too. Some possibilities include:
- Reducing churn
- Increasing trial-to-paid conversion
- Increasing expansion revenue
And so on. Ensure that your goals align with your overall business or product strategy. Selecting specific goals will help you prioritize your feature requests appropriately.
Step 2: Create a product backlog
This is a list of features, enhancements, and fixes that need to be done on the product.
Agile frameworks, like scrum, are all about delivering value for your customer. To do that, it’s critical to understand exactly what they’re asking for. So, establish a feature request tracking system.
That means connecting all the feedback your customer-facing teams are getting to a central feedback repository where you can analyze it.
Step 3: Estimate and prioritize the backlog
Now, figure out which features in your backlog are the right ones to build next. Do that by first figuring out which are the most important and then how much time each one requires to build.
Prioritization is the hard part. There are a ton of roadmap prioritization frameworks out there to help you try to find the right features to build first. For example, you could use techniques like RICE scoring, the value vs. complexity matrix, or the MoSCoW method for helping you make prioritization decisions.
We’ve also created our own Savio method for prioritizing feature requests, which differs from the others in that it uses customer feedback as the primary way of making priority decisions.
Step 4: Create the roadmap
Once you know the priority of each feature and how much time it’ll take to build, start filling in your roadmap. Group related items into larger chunks known as epics or themes. These provide a more high-level view of the work to be done and help maintain a strategic perspective. Then insert them into your sprints.
We like the big rocks, little rocks strategy:
- Fill in your sprints with the highest-priority features—often the biggest ones
- Fill in any remaining sprint time with smaller features and improvements
At this point, also think about how to display your roadmap—what information you want to display, what visual design elements to use, and so on. At Savio, we think Kanban-style boards are the cleanest and simplest, but you might want your roadmap structured as a Gantt chart or another style.
Step 5: Review with stakeholders and iterate
Share your draft roadmap with your key stakeholders so they have the opportunity to provide feedback. Adapt the roadmap as needed based on their input. This could involve re-prioritizing backlog items, adjusting estimates, or modifying the release plan.
Step 6: Communicate
Now, share the roadmap with all relevant stakeholders, including your product teams, management, and even with your customers if appropriate.
Clearly communicating your roadmap can align everyone with the strategic plan and expectations.
But your roadmap is also agile. When you’re communicating it, make sure everyone knows that it’s just a plan, and that it can quickly change as your context or requirements change.
Scrum roadmap best practices
Your roadmap will be unique because it should be tailored to your system. Still, there are some “better” ways to build an agile product roadmap. Here are some key best practices to consider:
- Align with vision and strategy. Your roadmap should be a reflection of your product vision and align with your overall business strategy. Always ensure that the items on your roadmap are contributing towards achieving your product and business objectives.
- Keep it flexible. One of the key benefits of Scrum is its adaptability. Your roadmap should be a living document that can be adjusted as circumstances change, whether due to market shifts, customer feedback, or new business opportunities.
- Involve the team. Your development team should be actively involved in the roadmap creation process. Their insights can help with more accurate estimates, and their buy-in will lead to smoother execution.
- Manage stakeholder expectations. Regularly communicate with stakeholders about what the roadmap is—and what it is not. It is not a commitment but a plan that can change. Being clear about this upfront can prevent misunderstandings later on.
Creating a Scrum roadmap is more of an art than a science, and it requires a deep understanding of your product, your customers, and your market. Use these best practices as a guide, but don't hesitate to adapt them to fit your specific circumstances.
Scrum roadmapping tools
Consider using a purpose-built product roadmapping tool to create, share, and update your roadmap. These tools can offer features like drag-and-drop, easy updating, and secure sharing which can greatly ease the process.
We’ve got a list of product roadmapping tools here. You can use most of them for scrum roadmapping.
You can also use Saivo.
Scrum roadmap template
Get started with scrum roadmaps—sign up for a free trial of Savio. Then start adding features to your backlog and build your scrum roadmap.
Other roadmap types to consider
The best roadmap format for your team will depend on your specific context and needs. If you already use scrum for your development process, a scrum roadmap makes sense for you. But if you don’t, maybe consider other types of roadmaps. Here are some alternatives.
Roadmap types by what information is displayed
- Feature-oriented roadmaps
- Goal-oriented roadmaps
- Outcome-oriented roadmaps
- Evidence-based roadmaps
- Product portfolio roadmaps
Roadmap types by workflow framework
Roadmap type by design style
Up Next: Roadmap types and when to use themLast Updated: 2023-06-21
Kareem is a co-founder at Savio. He's been prioritizing customer feedback professionally since 2001. He likes tea and tea snacks, and dislikes refraining from eating lots of tea snacks.
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