What is the importance of Roadmap in DevOps?

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What is the Roadmap for DevOps?

A DevOps roadmap is a great way to provide a more granular review relevant to these two teams. It can be a useful guide, for example, about when the development team will have a piece of code ready for ops to test. DevOps is the process of delivering high-quality products aimed at enhancing customer experience through automation and innovative practices. It streamlines team activities to manage resources properly in each quarter of the year. Team leads and managers can also use such a roadmap to reduce overhead costs and eliminate unnecessary tasks. 

Importance of a DevOps roadmap

Before we understand the key components of a DevOps roadmap and the steps involved in creating one, let’s understand its importance.

1. Acts as an exhaustive guide for stakeholders to understand the process

A DevOps roadmap is a key reference point for all stakeholders to help coordinate work between the development and operations teams. It serves as a valuable guide to provide a microscopic review of team activities and their ongoing processes. The roadmap is instrumental in highlighting the estimated timeline when the developers are expected to submit the code for the operations team to test it.

2. Aligns DevOps teams to manage priorities and interdependencies

A DevOps roadmap is an excellent avenue for stakeholders to anticipate when teams will provide urgent deliverables. Being a visual reference, its transparent layout is an efficient way to display interdependencies between the development and operations teams. This lets the teams stay on track and helps them prioritize their tasks per the DevOps roadmap

3. Continuously improves products and their functionalities

A DevOps roadmap emphasizes communication and sharing of information to deliver incremental improvements to users continually. It acts as a reminder for teams to keep near- and mid-term priorities in mind, which makes shifting priorities easier as and when required. This collaborative approach brings continuous improvement in the development lifecycle and benefits an organization in building newer products quickly, reducing the scope of errors, and making corrections along the way.

Pro tip: The CAMS framework is a great way to prioritize each item in your roadmap.

  • Culture can be used to identify how well teams understand each other’s goals and responsibilities
  • Automation saves the team’s time and efforts, resulting in faster delivery
  • Measurement is critical to track the performance of teams
  • Sharing emphasizes the level of communication and trust that teams have among each other, which leads to quick feedback loops and facilitates continuous improvement

Key Components of the Roadmap

A roadmap is a visual board that helps you plan, prioritize, and convey your product strategy to all the stakeholders involved in the software development lifecycle (SDLC). This is an extremely crucial tool that helps translate a DevOps team’s efforts into success. The roadmap plays a major role in bringing cross-functional teams together and ties them around a shared goal.

Team leads and product managers decide the significance of an item and whether or not it earns a place in the roadmap. However, all this is easier said than done. The most important questions remain as to what a roadmap looks like, what are its main components, and how you can read and decrypt a roadmap to understand what it’s trying to tell you!

1. DevOps roadmap template

Let’s look at an actual roadmap that can be prepared using tools such as Miro or Product Plan and break down all major components one by one. We’ll use the following DevOps roadmap template as our reference:

DevOps Roadmap Template

2. Lanes or swimlanes

Lanes, commonly known as swimlanes, segregate important categories of your roadmap to show divisions of responsibility. Swimlanes are categories that summarize your company or product’s division of work. They can be different functions, teams, initiatives, geographical locations, etc. In the example shown above, the lanes in the roadmap display the development and operations for three different products: product 1, product 2, and product 3.

3. Containers or themes

Containers are like major themes representing the most important categories of your roadmap with which all the other items get connected. You can use containers to showcase different projects, themes, subjects, or any other items of your roadmap’s initiative. This is how the containers in the example shown above look like: Implement Praxis Framework, Bootstrap Upgrade, Backend Migration Release 1, and Rollout SWIFT.

4. Bars

Bars are other important items strategically grouped under appropriate containers. These items are initiatives that all get connected to the main theme of your roadmap. In the example above, when you expand the ‘bootstrap upgrade’ container, you can see the bar ‘load testing’ as an initiative to be completed.

5. Timelines and dates

It’s best to avoid displaying specific dates or deadlines for every item in your roadmap. Unless your product release is timed to the launch of a major event from your industry, it doesn’t make sense to display dates. Instead, it would make more sense to focus on the important strategic aspects of your initiative rather than concentrating on stringent deadlines. The example used has an approximate three-month timeframe—divided into sprints and milestones—to be achieved.

6. Legends

Legends are prioritized items and strategic goals backing each initiative in your roadmap. The legend used in the example above is ‘phases.’ It conveys which activities are a part of the development phase and those that are a part of the operations phase. Legends make it easier for all stakeholders, including the product, development, and operations teams, to understand the roadmap quickly. Along with phases, status and priority are also examples of legends.

7. Percent complete

A roadmap should always be up to date and display information regarding the status of any upcoming plans, tasks, or initiatives on your team’s agenda. Any stakeholder should simply hover over the bar and get a clear idea about the status of a task.

8. Tags

Tags come in handy when you’re looking to identify, track, or go back to a particular initiative throughout the development cycle. If you’re looking to quickly find all the items on your roadmap aimed at automation, you can simply search and filter your roadmap by ‘automation’.

9. Connections

Last but not least, connections are another beneficial component you could include that would help you quickly recognize and identify all the dependencies within items in your roadmap. Connections are attached to bars and display a relationship of interdependence between tasks.

Like the example shared above, a DevOps roadmap provides a more granular view of the software development process. A roadmap shows the complete picture of an organization’s DevOps strategy and supporting mechanisms.

Common challenges encountered while creating DevOps roadmap

The journey of creating anything from scratch has its ups and downs and endures several hiccups along the way. The same is true when it comes to roadmap creation as well. Let’s uncover some of the typical challenges that you might face while creating your DevOps roadmap.

Common Challenges Encountered During DevOps Roadmap Creation

Common Challenges Encountered During DevOps Roadmap Creation

1. Failure to communicate DevOps roadmap to stakeholders

There is often a gap between the components of a DevOps roadmap and how well teams can comprehend it. You might create one of the most lucrative, visually stimulating roadmaps, but it would be of no use until your development and operations teams clearly understand their role in it.

This gap can be bridged with appropriate communication that team leads and product managers should carry out regularly to ensure that all stakeholders are on the same page. Communicating your DevOps roadmap’s vision and strategic goals to your teams to ensure that they are aligned to the end goal is imperative to succeed in this endeavor.

2. Devising unnecessary long-term roadmap plans

Most companies mistake locking in plans for the long haul and face frustration when things fail to go as per plan. A DevOps roadmap is not a fixed plan set in stone. It is an agile document that needs to be regularly visited, discussed, and updated with changing circumstances. Hence, it makes more sense to create a flexible DevOps roadmap focused on a high-level product strategy that can be easily adjusted instead of following rigid deadlines with no room for alteration whatsoever.

3. Lack of clarity when prioritizing goals

Prioritization of goals is seen as a major challenge when creating a DevOps roadmap. Often, teams find themselves stuck in between accomplishing several initiatives all at the same time. This happens if your DevOps roadmap lacks clarity when creating goals that are driven by prioritization.

It is crucial to create a prioritization framework that also fits within the larger context of the organization. This framework is beneficial when deciding whether a new feature should be given priority or existing product development should be kept at the forefront. This step makes it easier to manage expectations and allows teams to switch focus as and when necessary.

4. Difficulty defining the right metrics for your roadmap

Many companies struggle when it comes to setting metrics and determining the right ones to focus on. Metrics-driven DevOps roadmaps are the foundation of building successful software products. It is good to define the appropriate metrics early to guide the DevOps roadmap and software development in the right direction.

The best way to drive software products to success is by setting the right metrics in your DevOps roadmap to track goals. Most people fill their DevOps roadmaps with vague metrics that are rarely actionable. It’s best to focus on a limited number of metrics that align with your organization’s high-level strategies.

7-Step Complete Guide to Creating Your DevOps Roadmap

An effective DevOps roadmap is a must-have to optimize your organization’s journey. Often misconstrued as a strict list of deliverables or checklist, a roadmap, in reality, should be like a canvas depicting a story to all important stakeholders. A DevOps roadmap has the potential to elevate a software company’s end-to-end product lifecycle. It builds and releases products faster and helps teams stay motivated to deliver a higher output level, improving cross-functional collaboration and the organization’s overall success.

Here is a seven-step complete guide to creating your DevOps roadmap in 2021:

7 Step Complete Guide to Creating Your DevOps Roadmap in 2021

Step 1: Determine the roadmap objective

The first and foremost step while creating a roadmap is sitting down with your team and determining the intention behind creating it and the outcome that you’re expecting to achieve. Determining objectives early on will make it easier for you to lay down the content of the roadmap and select the path for your journey. This clarity results in team members being confident in their approach and help them stay on the right track.

Examples of objectives:

  • Focusing on value creation for end-users by releasing software quickly
  • Building a knowledge repository to share successes and failures to enhance DevOps efforts for the future
  • Prioritizing a collaborative culture over rigid organizational structure

Step 2: Stay focused and stick to short timelines

A DevOps roadmap, in many ways, is similar to a company’s blueprint. However, it differs when it comes to the duration of the plan. Unlike blueprints created for six to eight months, a DevOps roadmap needs to be planned for a shorter time. As mentioned earlier, the DevOps roadmap example shown above uses a three-month planning time.

The best way to make the most of your DevOps roadmap is by staying focused and starting small. Prioritize the highest level of initiatives and the most important categories for the development and operations teams to follow. Investing any more time could lead to a cluttered and confusing roadmap.

Step 3: Make use of visual elements to understand your roadmap

We’re all living in a highly visual world. Research proves that the human brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text. This is a clear indication for you to make optimal visual cues to jazz up your roadmap. A lot of companies make the mistake of creating their roadmaps in a text-only format, such as spreadsheets or word processing documents.

A DevOps roadmap is an excellent platform to share initiatives in a compelling format. By doing so, you’re communicating all the important details and making it easier for all the stakeholders to understand them. Visual roadmaps give you the flexibility and freedom to play around with as many elements as possible. For example, you could use containers, themes, bars, color-coded labels, legends, epics, tags, and so much more to take it to the next level.

Step 4: Share roadmap access with your DevOps team

It’s important to include both the development and operations teams to review the roadmap. By doing so, you’re allowing the teams to visualize which work initiatives depend on the other. Sharing your roadmap’s access with both teams brings them on the same page, thereby uniting them to a single source of truth.

A DevOps roadmap is invaluable to the success of a company. Inviting all important stakeholders to access your roadmap improves coordination and collaboration, allowing them to complete their tasks efficiently. A roadmap also provides a heads-up to the teams to note their deadlines and keep an eye out for other important tasks coming their way from the other team.

Step 5: Update your roadmap regularly

Today’s fast-paced, tech-driven world demands every one of us to stay updated at all times. Applying the same practice to your DevOps roadmap will work wonders to boost your organization’s overall goals. Make it a habit to frequently revisit your roadmap to ensure it is up to date and perfectly captures the current picture of your company.

If any high-level strategies or plans have changed since you first ideated it, go ahead and adjust the updated priorities in your roadmap. Ask your teams to look for changes in the roadmap or inform them about the same. This way, the teams do not waste time working on older priorities and outdated plans.

Step 6: Check your roadmap’s efficacy

There’s a lot you can do with your DevOps roadmap. Encourage your team to actively review the workflow to ensure they’re on the right track. One way to measure the effectiveness of your roadmap is by checking if it helps your development and operations teams stay aligned with each other and the high-level initiatives in the roadmap.

Step 7: Integrate your roadmap with other workflows

After you’ve made changes to your DevOps roadmap, it can so happen that an important stakeholder or members of both teams might miss out on new updates made in the workflow. You can avoid this by integrating your DevOps roadmap with a communication tool such as Slack. This will automatically notify your teams about any important details and will facilitate smoother and faster task completion.

In conclusion

A DevOps roadmap is an indispensable part of your DevOps journey, and creating one can elevate your efforts tenfold. This is an extremely powerful tool that allows you to stay on track with your DevOps goals and enhance coordination for teams to stay aligned with each other. Building a DevOps roadmap is a strategic task that requires tactical execution. It is not a regular document that you can sit and draft without investing time or thought.

A DevOps roadmap is like the stepping stone to successful software development and needs attention and consideration while creating it. A roadmap is different from a listicle of features; it essentially includes your high-level goals, strategies, initiatives, and vision. In the end, your DevOps roadmap needs to communicate the big picture of the organization. It should be carefully nurtured and curated, as it has the potential to translate your organization’s vision into reality.

What is the importance of Roadmap in DevOps?
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