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What is a Project Roadmap? 25 Tips + Top Templates
September 26, 2022

Abraham Lincoln famously said: “give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax” – and there is no lack of quotes that highlight the value of planning for success!

Good leaders know that comprehensive planning is key to effective project management. Taking an idea through successfully completing a project takes a lot of resources, collaboration, and hard work from a team – and requires a solid plan to optimize the process, set expectations, and support everyone’s efforts.  

In this blog post, we’re going to break down how to develop an agile project roadmap with free and advanced templates so you can improve your team’s capacity planning across your next project.

What is a project roadmap?

So you want your project to be successful – but how do you build confidence in key stakeholders and also create a successful plan for your team to get the project off the ground? At this point you’re probably wondering: what is a project roadmap and how exactly is it going to help set the team up for success? A project roadmap is a high-level, strategic overview of a project’s goals and scope so that stakeholders, management, and contributors can all stay on the same page with a project as it progresses. These can be visually laid out in a timeline format, and/or built out as a project charter to launch a project and keep everyone up-to-speed as it unfolds.

While the concept of a project roadmap might sound a little broad, this step actually provides major benefits to everyone involved, across all stages of a project. 

Benefits of a project roadmap:

  • Keep efforts aligned with project end goals
  • Keep everyone informed on project expectations 
  • Easily highlight status updates for stakeholders 
  • Visualize your timeline for task-level planning 
  • Be able to reprioritize when obstacles arise 
  • Improve your resource allocation to optimize your spend

Project roadmap vs. a project plan

There are many documents that make up a project management plan – so what’s the difference between a project roadmap and the project plan? 

The project roadmap serves to define a project’s goals and highlights the overarching milestones of the timeline. It serves as an easily digestible central source of truth for everyone on the project - including executives, investors, department leads, and individual contributors - to reference for the project’s progress at a glance, and to realign with objectives as time goes on. 

On the other hand, the project plan breaks down exactly how the project roadmap is going to be accomplished on a very granular level. These are typically built by project managers, break down roadmap milestones across relevant departments, and assign specific day-to-day tasks to individual contributors so the intended roadmap can be met.

A successful project plan works backwards from the project roadmap goal-ladder so that tasks can be planned around changing priorities before deadlines come up. The roadmap offers clear direction and expectations throughout the project – which is even more important when collaborating across separate teams and departments. 

While the format of a project roadmap might vary from team to team – there are a few standard elements that make up a solid project roadmap.

Elements of a successful project roadmap:

  1. Objectives: The end goals of the project that serve as the North Star for the duration of the project - all other elements ultimately support the completion of these objectives. 
  2. Milestones: Plotted stepping-stone achievements throughout the project’s timeline to help measure progress and successes.
  3. Deliverables: Any internal or external items that need to be produced to achieve milestones and make progress towards objectives.
  4. Resources: The allocation of resources and budget to produce deliverables and meet milestones to achieve the project objectives. 
  5. Timeline: A timeframe breakdown of when the elements above need to be completed to achieve the project objectives. 

How to create a project roadmap

Now that we’ve covered what a project roadmap is and why you should use one, let’s dive into how to build each element of your roadmap with tips for maximum success. You can develop these in a doc, spreadsheet, presentation, or directly in your work management app – whatever works best for your team. It’s important to note that all of these elements work off of each other to create an effective project management roadmap. So, as you work through the template, review previous sections accordingly! 

Step 1: Objectives - what exactly do you want to achieve with the project?

Building out your project objectives is the first step towards creating a successful roadmap. This is the end goal the team will be working towards for the duration of the project, and becomes the foundation of all future planning. These should be formatted in short scope statements to clearly and concisely communicate the ultimate end result.

Here are 5 tips for building your project objectives:

  1. Define what you want to achieve by the end of the project. 
  2. Involve the project team in the goal-setting process.
  3. Make sure your objectives clearly define the scope of the project. For example: “do a rebrand” vs. “develop new brand design including a color scheme, a light and dark variation logo, and new typography”.
  4. Make your objectives SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound).
  5. Review and refine your objective statements to be as succinct as possible.

Step 2: Milestones - which key events do we need to hit to reach the objective?

A project doesn’t go straight from kickoff to approval! Key milestones, or stepping stones, set the pace for the project through the finish line to track progress and help identify bottlenecks. Depending on the project scope, these milestones likely include iterations, requirement reviews, and approvals and visually represented on a Gantt chart to break down the project timeline in a digestible format.

Here are 5 tips to help you establish your project roadmap milestones:

  1. Identify which key events need to be met to reach the project objective (ex. approval from stakeholders, major deliverables from the project team, reviews from leadership).
  2. Set milestones for critical junctions in the project (but be careful not to overuse them for minor goals which can actually reduce productivity).
  3. Ensure the project milestones challenge the team sufficiently to fuel motivation, without making them completely unachievable. 
  4. Make milestones accessible to everyone involved with the project?
  5. Appoint someone to track and make sure project milestones are met on time.

Step 3: Deliverables - which assets must be produced to hit set milestones?

While milestones flag important events across the project roadmap – each milestone requires certain deliverables to be met. Deliverables might include designs, reports, reviews, and final products. This is where more granular planning comes in to break the project milestones into smaller assets and set due dates according to the roadmap timelines. These deliverables will guide project managers down the road as they assign individual task work across the team, but that level of detail isn’t included in a high-level project roadmap.

Here are 5 tips to plan your project roadmap deliverables:

  1. Break down each project milestone into smaller, individual deliverables.
  2. Identify which deliverables are non-negotiable priorities vs. tasks that could be deprioritized if a blocker arises.
  3. Establish due dates for when each deliverable should be completed to stay on track with your set milestones.
  4. Note which deliverables are going to be internally vs. externally completed.
  5. Create a plan for how individual contributors will be assigned independent task work, and how dependencies will be managed to hit goals on time.

Step 4: Resources - how are you going to achieve your project objective?

Having well-developed objectives, milestones, and deliverables planned out is key to successful project management – but you still need to figure out exactly how you’re going to realize these great intentions within expectations. Planning your available resources across budgets, time, project managers, internal and expert contributors, and the team’s availability is what makes a successful project happen.

Here are 5 tips to note as you go through the resource planning of your project roadmap:

  1. Establish and approve a clear budget and timeframe for the project.
  2. Figure out the expertise you need to successfully complete the project, and evaluate who on your team has the capacity to take it on.
  3. Plan how you’re going to complete the project on time without overworking the team (ex. realistic workloads, reasonable working hours, fewer unnecessary meetings). 
  4. Determine whether you’ll need external resources to complete the project before your deadline, and whether it’s within budget.
  5. Identify how you’re going to track resources over the course of the project timeline.

Step 5: Timeline - when is the project objective going to be completed?

A timeline is more than just a deadline! On the most foundational level, a timeline becomes the basis on which your project is planned. From milestones, to deliverables, to resource planning – a timeline informs deadlines and capacity planning to make sure the project objectives are achieved.

Here are 5 tips to establish your project roadmap timeline:

  1. Create a project scope statement around your objectives to accurately evaluate how much time you’ll need.
  2. Set a start date and end date for the project (based on external requirements and your team’s availability).
  3. Decide how you’re going to track your timeline (ex. line timeline vs. block timeline, Gantt chart, dependency maps).
  4. Plot exactly where your project milestones fall within your timeline, and make sure your available resources support this plan.
  5. Create a contingency plan for your planned timeline should blockers arise.

Top 4 project roadmap templates

Once you’ve gone through the above tips to get crystal clear on the overview of your project, it’s time to lay out your own project roadmap. 

There are tons of free downloadable project roadmap templates out there, like these from SmartSheet which include a IT Project Roadmap Example Template (Excel | PowerPoint), a Project Portfolio Roadmap Template (Excel | Google Sheets), or even a 3-Year Project Roadmap Template (PowerPoint). 

While simpler templates like these can work for some project teams, they don’t offer much in the way of optimizing processes like task assignment, progress tracking, capacity planning, and collaborative feedback over the course of a project. The good thing is, many work management tools offer comprehensive project roadmap templates for agile teams!

We’ve compiled the top 4 apps with project roadmap templates to help you build a killer roadmap and efficiently manage your team from start to finish with powerful project management features.

Jira - best for no-frills roadmaps

Jira is a work management tool leveraged across agile software teams to plan out roadmaps, manage projects, and track progress across all stages. With a clean interface and comprehensive templates for both a basic roadmap and an advanced roadmap – Jira is a great option for teams to build no-frills roadmaps, track goals and issues, and manage independent task work across the timeline to hit more goals ahead of deadlines.

Get the Jira roadmap template →

Asana - best for timeline roadmaps

Asana is a popular project management platform with comprehensive features to help improve team workflows from all sides. The Asana timeline template facilitates everything you need in an effective project roadmap - from multiple deadlines, to milestones, to task dependencies - all laid out in chronological order. As a visual timeline, this template offers managers, contributors, and stakeholders a clear overview of the project’s next steps and helps to identify bottlenecks before they arise. And for daily work – the roadmap can also be viewed as grid style or a Kanban board to help everyone stay on top of their responsibilities!  

Get the Asana timeline template →

ClickUp - best for customized roadmaps

Aiming to be the “one app to replace them all”, ClickUp has quickly risen in popularity as a project management tool known for its granular customization capabilities. And ClickUp’s project roadmap template definitely delivers there! With 5 unique views including a workload view, a Gantt chart view, and a list view – team’s can completely optimize their project roadmap template with custom statuses and custom fields to create a plan that works best for their workflow and project needs. 

Get the ClickUp project roadmap template →

ProductPlan - best for variety project roadmaps

ProductPlan is a unique addition to this list, as a tool dedicated exclusively to project roadmapping. Offering 30 different project roadmap templates for basically any project need – ProductPlan is an awesome choice for project managers who are regularly planning many different projects for high-performing teams. Other standout features include customizable private links for viewers like external stakeholders, and flexible integrations with apps like Trello and Jira.

Get the ProductPlan roadmap templates →

Want to uplevel your project planning even further? Using these project roadmap tools with a productivity app like Reclaim.ai can help teams more accurately plan their capacity for a project by 12.1%. And when the time comes to assign work to individual contributors, teams can even sync their task lists directly from their task management platforms (including Asana, ClickUp and Jira!) to their calendar – so nothing falls through the cracks and deliverables always get done before deadlines.

Better planning = more successful projects 📈

Don’t skimp on time spent sharpening your ax (or - in this case - creating a project roadmap for your team!). Building a thorough roadmap helps managers establish expectations for their team and stakeholders, and facilitate a more efficient project plan. 

And now that you know all the important elements of a roadmap and how to develop them for your future projects, you can help set your team up for success right from the start – with templates and project management app options to carry the team’s efforts through to success.

Do you use project roadmaps for better planning? Have a great tip or tool you want to share that we might have missed? Tweet us @reclaimai with your thoughts! We love hearing from you. 👋

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How to Share Google Calendar & Manage Your Availability

Learn how to share your Google Calendar with another Google Calendar, Outlook or iCloud Calendar, key privacy settings, and the best way to block your availability to avoid double-booking.
Best Planner Apps: Top 5 Tools for Productivity in 2022
December 13, 2021

Best Planner Apps: Top 5 Tools for Productivity in 2022

If you spend just 10-12 minutes planning your day, you’ll save up to 2 hours of time otherwise wasted from poor planning. Learn the top 5 planner apps to keep you organized and productive in 2022.
How to Add Linear.app Issues to Google Calendar
December 1, 2021

How to Add Linear.app Issues to Google Calendar

Less than 50% of issues get completed every cycle, or sprint. Learn how to connect your Linear.app issue tracking projects with Google Calendar so you can make time for important tasks every sprint.
Top 14 Project Management Skills for the Remote Work Era
November 24, 2021

Top 14 Project Management Skills for the Remote Work Era

Which project management skills do you need to lead a remote working team? As the coordinator for a highly complex show, project managers need an arsenal of people skills and technical skills.
Team Meetings: 5 Types & Best Practices for Scheduling
November 12, 2021

Team Meetings: 5 Types & Best Practices for Scheduling

What is a team meeting? A gathering to build relationships, collaborate, share updates, and align your team. But with 50% of the workweek in meetings, orgs need to consider if they’re overscheduling.
Productivity Trends Report: One-on-One Meeting Statistics
November 2, 2021

Productivity Trends Report: One-on-One Meeting Statistics

Meetings have increased 69.7% since before the pandemic. Professionals now average 21.5 hours in meetings each week, with over 500% increase in one-on-one meetings due to the shift to remote work.
Effective 1:1 Meetings: How to Better Prepare & Schedule
October 26, 2021

Effective 1:1 Meetings: How to Better Prepare & Schedule

One on one meetings, or 1:1s, are a recurring check-in between two team members to discuss priorities, projects and goals. But are you using them effectively?
Calendar Heroes: Chris Parsons, Co-Founder & CTO at Lollipop
October 20, 2021

Calendar Heroes: Chris Parsons, Co-Founder & CTO at Lollipop

In this edition of Calendar Heroes, we talk to Chris Parsons, co-founder and CTO of Lollipop, to learn his style, tools, and methods for balancing priorities while leading an early-stage startup.
Calendar Heroes: Vishwesh Jirgale, VP of Engineering at Mindtickle & Angel Investor
October 14, 2021

Calendar Heroes: Vishwesh Jirgale, VP of Engineering at Mindtickle & Angel Investor

VP of Engineering at Mindtickle and Angel Investor, Vishwesh Jirgale, shares how he gets things done and achieves a productive workday. Check it out!
What is Focus Time? How to Prioritize Productivity
October 13, 2021

What is Focus Time? How to Prioritize Productivity

Focus time is a dedicated session for uninterrupted productive work. But with each meeting, Slack message, email and social media distraction, it takes 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back on track.
Calendar Heroes: Philippe Mesritz, VP Customer Experience & Customer Operations at Khoros
October 6, 2021

Calendar Heroes: Philippe Mesritz, VP Customer Experience & Customer Operations at Khoros

VP of customer experience & customer operations at Khoros, Philippe Mesritz shares how he optimizes his time to get things done. Check it out!
Calendar Heroes: Megan Killion, Founder of Coven Cloud & MK Consulting
September 29, 2021

Calendar Heroes: Megan Killion, Founder of Coven Cloud & MK Consulting

Megan is a full-time working mother of four who runs three successful companies, Megan Killion Consulting, newly launched startup Coven Cloud, and a property rental business. See how she makes time!
More Calendar Control for Meetings! Reclaim Free & Busy
September 28, 2021

More Calendar Control for Meetings! Reclaim Free & Busy

Add more productivity and control to your smart calendar with advanced Reclaim free and busy event hashtags. Block time for no-meeting days, focus time, meeting times, and clock-out of task scheduling
Top 7 Time Management Tools (for Busy People)
September 23, 2021

Top 7 Time Management Tools (for Busy People)

82% of people don’t have a time management system, but there are hundreds of apps available to improve productivity for every working style. Find your best fit in the top 7 time management tools list.
Job Burnout: How to Fix at Your Workplace
September 21, 2021

Job Burnout: How to Fix at Your Workplace

Over two-thirds of employees have experienced job burnout recently, and more than 50% of all annual turnover results from burnout. See which signs to look for and how to prevent them at your company.
Top 5 Work Habits to Boost Productivity
September 14, 2021

Top 5 Work Habits to Boost Productivity

See the top 5 work habits to try to boost your productivity. If you’re seeking a promotion, trying to pivot your career, or just simply looking to step your game up in the workplace, this is for you.
Calendar Heroes: Chris Hunt, Staff Site Reliability Engineer at Stack Overflow
September 10, 2021

Calendar Heroes: Chris Hunt, Staff Site Reliability Engineer at Stack Overflow

Working on a team that is spread across 10 different time zones and our Calendar Hero, Chris Hunt lets us in on how he is able to do it. Check it out!
Durable Identity: Employee-Friendly SaaS for Life Changes
September 7, 2021

Durable Identity: Employee-Friendly SaaS for Life Changes

The average person changes jobs every 4.1 years, but you shouldn't have to re-sign up for every SaaS app that often. The future of work will be more durable - your identity will survive life changes.
Weekly Status Reports: 3 Steps to Reduce Meetings & Boost Productivity
August 31, 2021

Weekly Status Reports: 3 Steps to Reduce Meetings & Boost Productivity

"This meeting could’ve been an email.” We're all thinking it. Even 71% of senior managers feel their meetings are unproductive. Reduce meetings and boost productivity with weekly status reports.
The Best Time to Meditate? Prioritize Self-Care
August 26, 2021

The Best Time to Meditate? Prioritize Self-Care

The best time to meditate depends on your intention and your schedule. But no matter when you meditate, you can reap the benefits. The important thing is that you make time for this healthy habit.
Top 6 ADHD Organization Tools
August 24, 2021

Top 6 ADHD Organization Tools

Staying organized can feel like a constant battle for people with ADHD before you find your ideal rhythm and workflow. Here are the top ADHD organization tools to help you become more productive.
No-Meeting Days: Top 4 Advantages & How to Start at Your Company
August 19, 2021

No-Meeting Days: Top 4 Advantages & How to Start at Your Company

Are meetings consuming your workweek? 78% of people feel their meeting schedule is out of control - see how one no-meeting day a week can improve your productivity, team morale and prevent burnout.
Calendar Heroes: Ben Hutton, JSON Schema Specification Lead at Postman
August 17, 2021

Calendar Heroes: Ben Hutton, JSON Schema Specification Lead at Postman

Working as JSON Schema Specification Lead at Postman, Ben shares how he balances priorities while developing the JSON Schema strategy and it's tooling, and supports the open-source community.
Calendar Heroes: Shay Kingsbury, Program Manager | Go To Market at Hootsuite
August 11, 2021

Calendar Heroes: Shay Kingsbury, Program Manager | Go To Market at Hootsuite

Shay Kingsbury at Hootsuite shares how she balances priorities while leading merger and acquisition integration and Go To Market for Sparkcentral at the social media marketing and management platform.
Using Slack ‘Scheduled Send’ + Reclaim.ai to Schedule Messages
August 10, 2021

Using Slack ‘Scheduled Send’ + Reclaim.ai to Schedule Messages

Slack released a much-anticipated feature in June of 2021: scheduled sends for Slack messages. This, paired with some awesome Status syncing capabilities from Reclaim, can help you become a rockstar Slack communicator and role model for your team.
Calendar Heroes: Michele Wiedemer, Manager of Customer Education at Snyk
August 9, 2021

Calendar Heroes: Michele Wiedemer, Manager of Customer Education at Snyk

Michele Wiedemer at Synk shares how she balances priorities while developing the education training program for security champions and developers at the open source security platform.
Best Time to Exercise? Morning, Afternoon or Whenever
August 4, 2021

Best Time to Exercise? Morning, Afternoon or Whenever

Exercising for as little as 15 minutes a day can increase your lifespan by as much as 3 years, and you’ll sleep better and feel less stressed too. Here's how to optimize your workouts for the best time of day.
Make Time to Read: 5 Practical Tips for Busy People
July 28, 2021

Make Time to Read: 5 Practical Tips for Busy People

Reading has amazing benefits, and 35% of people want to do it more. It increases verbal intelligence, makes you a better leader, reduces stress, and fends off Alzheimer’s. Here are 5 tips to try out.
Calendar Heroes: Rohini Pandhi, Product @ Square
July 26, 2021

Calendar Heroes: Rohini Pandhi, Product @ Square

Rohini Pandhi, a Product Lead at Square, shares her style, tools and methodologies for balancing priorities while leading the product efforts for one of the top digital payment companies in the world.
15 Best Slack Apps for the Future of Work
July 22, 2021

15 Best Slack Apps for the Future of Work

Check out the top 15 Slack apps productive teams are using today to build and support the future of work at their organization across calendar management, project management, status updates, HR and team building.
Calendar Heroes: Q&A with Connor MacDonald, CMO at The Ridge
July 19, 2021

Calendar Heroes: Q&A with Connor MacDonald, CMO at The Ridge

Connor MacDonald at The Ridge shares his style, tools and methodologies for balancing priorities while leading the marketing vision for the brand that brought the world the first RFID-blocking wallet.
Clockwise vs. Reclaim.ai: 8 Key Differences in these Smart Calendar Tools
July 7, 2021

Clockwise vs. Reclaim.ai: 8 Key Differences in these Smart Calendar Tools

We get asked almost every day: what's the difference between Reclaim.ai and Clockwise? While we're both in the smart calendar space, there are some key differences to consider.
Naming Calendar Events: 5 Calendar Etiquette Tips
July 2, 2021

Naming Calendar Events: 5 Calendar Etiquette Tips

Need to create better calendar event titles to communicate context to your invitees, colleagues and incoming schedulers? Calendar communication starts with the first thing people see: the event title.
Lunch Breaks: 5 Ways to Improve Your Productivity
June 22, 2021

Lunch Breaks: 5 Ways to Improve Your Productivity

Want to improve your quality of work, energy level, and creativity? In this article, learn 5 ways in which taking a lunch will actually boost your productivity.
Effective Meetings vs. Pointless Meetings: How to Tell the Difference & Prioritize Your Own Time
June 17, 2021

Effective Meetings vs. Pointless Meetings: How to Tell the Difference & Prioritize Your Own Time

Learn the 5 key differences between effective vs. pointless meetings, and 3 tips to avoid unnecessary meetings getting booked on your calendar.
3 Ways to Find Work-Life Balance in the New Normal
June 10, 2021

3 Ways to Find Work-Life Balance in the New Normal

You want work-life balance, but work and life can't separate into equal halves. Forget balance, here are three ways to make work-life harmony a reality.
Reclaim just raised $4.8M in seed funding! 🎉
May 26, 2021

Reclaim just raised $4.8M in seed funding! 🎉

We're excited to announce that Reclaim has raised $4.8M in seed funding led by Index Ventures. Here's what comes next.
Pareto Principle: Using the 80/20 Rule for Priority Management
May 25, 2021

Pareto Principle: Using the 80/20 Rule for Priority Management

How to use the Pareto Principle 80/20 rule to block time for your priorities.
3 Single-Tasking Tips to Improve Your Focus
April 28, 2021

3 Single-Tasking Tips to Improve Your Focus

While you may think multitasking is a skill you can master, only 2.5% of people can do it effectively. Your brain performs best when “single-tasking”, focusing on only one thing at a time.
How to Create a Smart Calendar
April 22, 2021

How to Create a Smart Calendar

A smart calendar can help you simplify calendar management and boost productivity. Here's how to create a smart calendar so you can take control of your busy schedule.
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