Product Management

How to Roadmap like a Boss using Notion

Roadmapping doesn't have to be a nightmare. Do the research ahead of time and you'll thank yourself later.

By

Parker Rex

on

Aug 7, 2020

A quick word about roadmapping

Roadmapping doesn't have to be stressful. Do the planning and get exec buy in and your life becomes easy. Ps. Make sure you read til the end, where I share 3 best books you should be reading if you're a product manager. Roadmapping is a topic that everyone deals with differently. Different leadership styles and company sizes dictate what type of roadmap a company will have. It's a good thing to have an overarching strategy with broad strokes, but getting nitty gritty is tough as time horizons expand. Roadmaps will look different if a new product is going from "0 to 1", while scaling an existing product takes your from "1 to N".

Product managers own the product roadmap and are responsible for ensuring it has the right set of trade-offs. In this article I'll walk through the importance of getting the next 6 weeks of development right. The more effective planning you do ahead of time, the more effective your outcomes will be. Don't develop just to develop, develop with intent. Start with your framework. Maybe you're an agile shop, that's great. As long as you're not running waterfall, then all is well.

Shape Up

At Delivery Dudes we develop software using a framework called Shape up. Shape up was started by a software as a service company Basecamp. It's essentially agile, except for one main difference. Cool-down periods. Cool down is what it sounds like. During sprints, teams run hard. Afterwards you need a second to calm down, and recollect before getting in to the next bit of work. Shape Up is available as a pdf on #Basecamps website. I recommend reading through the portion on Pitch writing to get a teaser. Shape up requires that your team take full advantage of 6-week blocks of time. I don't expect you to go read this book I'm recommending so I'll quote the gist of it

"Six weeks is long enough to build something meaningful start-to-finish and short enough that everyone can feel the deadline looming from the start, so they use the time wisely. The majority of our new features are built and released in one six-week cycle."

Part One is all about Shaping — the pre-work we do on projects before we consider them ready to schedule.

Part Two is about Betting — how we choose among the pitched projects and decide what to do six weeks at a time.

Part Three is about Building — the expectations we place on the teams and the special practices they use to discover what to do.

Setup in Notion

Now that you have a crash course on Shape Up we get into how I take this methodology and apply it to product roadmapping. We use Notion for roadmapping at Delivery Dudes. You need to start by setting up a Product home page. Within that home, you'll create two more pages One called  and one called

This is what mine looks like:

The home page makes it easy to store any and all information for your team. My team began working from home full time back in March. Since then we've had to build more information out because not all of us are around. The less you have to let folks know about things the better. The more information you have stored on your notion page the more that everyone on the team is empowered to find information on their own.

All planning starts in the Pitches and bets page. I'll create a table, and each row in it will contain a pitch, or product requirement document used to drive product innovation.

I create the following properties name, tech lead, status, appetite, prod date. Name is for the name of the pitch. Tech lead is the engineer who is going to take lead on the project, status is where we are at with the work, appetite is the timebox associated, and prod date is the date range we're working on - the end date being the production go live date.

I then sort by status, and prod date, and lock down the database so no one can accidentally move anything around.

Development

Let's quickly touch on how we use this roadmap to develop work.

Before we even select a pitch, a technical lead (typically and engineer) goes through the pitch to assign technical requirements. Think of this process as discovery. The engineer reviews the user stories and the solution the pitch provides.

Features must solve business problems (measured by key results); otherwise, the team needs to try a different approach to the solution.

We are constantly referencing the roadmap in Notion. This way of managing work keeps things flowing and all the information the product teams is at their fingertips. No searching for a google doc spec, or an invision linked file. Everything is in the pitch. I have more details on how my meeting schedule works, which you can watch here. During the sprint kickoff meeting we'll quickly reference the roadmap and make sure we have the latest information.

Once we have work QA'd and we're ready to launch, we'll get with a project manager to discuss the go-to-market strategy. This is the short of how I roadmap using Notion. If you enjoyed this of content make sure to go subscribe to my YouTube channel, where I post 1 to 2 quality technology videos a week.

3 Best Books for Product Managers

If you want, you can watch the video on why I think these are the best books for product managers.

Inspired:

https://amzn.to/35qajp0

High Growth Handbook:

https://amzn.to/31sM2xo

22 Immutable Laws of Marketing:

https://amzn.to/35iAEoO

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