A Roadmap Readme

In the dying days of 2022 I started to crowdsource a collection of roadmap examples to help land on a format and approach we could consistently embrace at the day job. I was looking for something that needed to walk a very fine line – an approach that aligned with our agile/product thinking and ways of working but that provided enough detail and clarity that it could help wean stakeholders off of the false certainty their delivery plans offer them.

As a product community (both at the Department and wider) it was clear that people leaned towards the Now / Next / Later approach but if that was going to land with our wider audiences it needed more rigour and depth than we might be used to.

I wanted the roadmaps to be the conversation starter – the primary communications artefact for Product Managers. A living document that managed expectations but also reflected ambitions.

In the end nothing quite worked for our local needs so I went a bit Doctor Moreau and created a hybrid monster of a roadmap to meet our needs.

  • Every roadmap starts with a MISSION
  • Each MISSION can have multiple GOALS
  • Each GOAL has its own NOW / NEXT / LATER roadmap built up of OBJECTIVES
  • Each OBJECTIVE can link to a detailed summary of DELIVERABLES


The NOW column represents the next two months of activity. It represents certainty and detail. Each entry in the column links to a more detailed summary – covering the why, how, expected benefits and success criteria. It is a single slide but it should be information rich.


The NEXT column represents the following four months of expected activity. This will be less certain and some of the details will be sketchy – but not totally unknown. Where possible adding detail is encouraged but not mandatory.


The LATER column should contain your hopes and dreams for the final six months (and beyond). It is where you should document your ambitions. This is the land of might and things will inevitably change when you learn more. This is where stakeholders will be most uncomfortable so the heavy lifting in building trust has to be up front in NOW and NEXT.

We want that high fidelity up front combined with the regular review cadence and communication to build trust with stakeholders to have them learn to love adaptive, outcomes focused roadmaps that encourage conversation and transparency.

The format is tool agnostic. There is no doubt it works better with something like Notion or Trello but the fact remains it ‘travels’ better internally using PowerPoint.

It is also designed to be linky – there is no way a single view will meet all needs so we need to think in links. Allow users to dig deeper if that provides them with assurance (potentially all the way to the backlogs in Jira/Trello).

All this is very much an Alpha – it will inevitable evolve and iterate but for now it seems to meet our needs. YMMV.

We’ve also landed on a Mission Canvas inspired by some of Ben’s questions from back in the day with a few additions combined with some of the work James shared recently about creating a ‘front door’ for requests at the NHS. This isn’t quite ready to share at the moment as I have many skills (well some!) but document template designer is not one!

Thanks to everybody who contributed examples and shared their thinking and particularly to Jamie Arnold who once again inspired a lot of this – even if he might be horrified at where it ended up!

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