PI ROADMAP: A Gateway for Transparent and Smart Planning

Agile is all about responding to change. That does not necessarily mean that we should leave everything to be done at an ad hoc basis which will eventually lead to a disaster at all developmental and management levels. Thus it is wise to have some level of planning done.
A Program Increment (PI) Roadmap helps in defining an outline of events or milestones that aims to communicate all the planned deliverables which have to be achieved down the product’s journey.
When building a PI Roadmap, a lot of effort goes into future planning. It is in fact an arduous task as you cannot precisely predict how the requirements or the market can change. With a roadmap, it helps to give some sense of direction and lays the groundwork for some initiatives that would take years to be made.

How is a PI Roadmap made?

To initiate the process of building a PI roadmap, you have to consider two very crucial factors. They are described below:    

1. Understanding Market Event and Market Rhythm: A Market Event is any internal or external occurrence, which can happen due to any changes in the economic or market conditions that can affect your solution. They are crucial for making a PI Roadmap as they can force organizations to adjust the development or to alter the timing of delivering the features.
An example of a Market event could be that a new product has been launched suddenly that offers a better experience to the customer than yours. This event has triggered your organization to change the strategy or developmental practices to outperform your competitor. Market Rhythm consists of events that occur at a predictable time. Possessing an understanding of the market rhythms beforehand will allow you to understand what is required by the market at that given time and to get an upper hand on your competition.

2. Applying Planning Horizons: Planning horizon, also known as a planning window, is an activity where consultants, managers and business owners band together to make a strategic plan for the future by using forecasts, insights and statistics. This activity is helpful in providing a sense of definition and clarity of the plan at various levels.
A planning horizon for a PI Roadmap tends to cover a span of 3 Program Increments which usually includes the current PI and two upcoming. This is considered a good practice as it gives a clear direction of where the business is heading and also reduces the chances of making any long term commitments and from straying away from the business priorities. If you were to plan for more than 2 upcoming PI’s, that would result in planning in more detail which is not advised, given that it may result in a shift of priorities over time.

How can a PI Roadmap be helpful?

A PI Roadmap helps in building a strong relationship between the organization and the customers. It focuses on planning based on strong factual, statistical and quantitative data.
It provides clarity and visibility into what needs to be actually done by also enhancing coordination amongst all the internal and external stakeholders. It gives them insight into how the product will evolve over time by staying true to the vision.
In agile, you have to welcome change. But it isn’t wise to expect the same attitude from the customer. They may or may not like the fact that the product they have been using for so long has gone through a change without any anticipation of an event like this happening.
With a roadmap, a strong collaborative and interactive relationship is created with the customer that can bring into their knowledge, that somewhere down the product’s path, a change can occur.

Do you share the same opinion about having a PI Roadmap as us? Or do you think it is about applying too much effort for something that might change down the way? Comment down below to share your thoughts.

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