One of the most challenging situations an Agile organization will encounter will be the coordination of dependencies and releases across product teams, operational or support groups, and areas of the company not using Agile methodology.
With the organizational vision in place and agile teams established, product owners will begin to determine the features to be added to their product. The features are usually captured as part of the product vision, which we’ll cover in the next post.
These features are laid out over time in a product roadmap and expresses, in broad strokes, planned future releases. The challenge typically comes when synchronizing individual roadmaps and releases with others in a portfolio of products. Leadership involvement in the product roadmap creation should be through continuing support at the senior level and planning coordination across the organization by mid-level leaders.
To start preparing the way for effective delivery of the vision and ease some of the complexities of cross-team planning, here are a couple of thoughts to consider:
Establish product syncs. Setup a frequent cadence for product owners to share their product vision and roadmaps with each other. This is especially useful for product teams with shared code, components, or technical infrastructure. This opens up the possibility of product owners “trading” features with another product owner who will be delivering a similar feature or touching the same code.
Build architecture roadmaps. Another useful work product would be to create an architecture roadmap for each product. Similar in format to the product roadmap, the architecture roadmap would layout key architecture decisions, implementations, or upgrades affecting product delivery.
The architecture roadmap would be created by the architect or technical lead on the product team and would always be at least three to six months ahead of the. The architecture roadmap would also pull from enterprise architecture to align all products and systems with the enterprise technology vision. In the same way as with product syncs, technical leads from each team would sync with each other to coordinate their roadmaps.
Find cross-team connection and collaboration points. Johanna Rothman has written extensively on this subject and I would recommend reading her blog posts. Johanna recommends Communities of Practice for cross-team coordination and I agree. If you are interested in getting Communities of Practices, here is a post with an approach to get them started. If your Scrum teams are integrating with traditional waterfall projects, include them in your network of connections and use those dependencies to make your roadmap decisions.