Why we don't have a roadmap

way-of-working Jun 01, 2021

This week I had the honor to perform as a guest lecturer at the local University of Applied Sciences. Always fun to share my passion for IT Architecture. This was my biggest audience yet, so naturally, nervousness forced me to over-prepare myself ;). But that doesn't stop me from sharing a modest post on our blog. So... we don't have a roadmap.

Weird right? We don't even have a real backlog. We have some to-do lists containing tasks that have to be done to build the current feature we are working on successful. But that's it. We are building our platform during free time resulting in a very inconsistent development velocity, so there's no value for us in slicing features into stories. The closest thing we have to a backlog is our to-do list.

In a previous post, I briefly mentioned "we make it up as we go" and that is the reality of our collaboration. We know what we want at this moment, and that gets our "full" attention. We do have a bucket of ideas because ideas can pop up at any time. But this bucket is just a mental model, we don't keep them in a backlog of things we could do. At most, we post it on our message board if we think it's is a really good idea. This way we can find it back in the future if the idea resurfaces.

So why do we do it like this? Ideas have limited value, they are essentially worthless unless executed. And fleshing out ideas in a backlog or a roadmap adds the illusion of value, you are spending time on describing an idea that has only potential value. Nobody can predict the future, especially in the realm of cloud platforms, so how can we guarantee we get a return on investment regarding time spent managing and grooming our backlog?

So how do you keep track of your ideas, well, we don't. Ideas are like weeds, they keep coming back anyhow. As stated before, an idea is only valuable when executed. Roadmaps suggest you can't execute yet because you have to do something else first. And if that something else is valuable, go for it, but that does not mean you have to buy in for the subsequent ideas as well. You can't know if those are worth doing until you get there right?

Unquestionably, backlogs and roadmaps have their value, especially when you have to manage vast quantities of inter-dependencies. I do use them extensively at my day job.  But at Draftsman, yeah, we make it up as we go.

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Bo Hanssen

I've been a technology-agnostic developer since 2015. And currently filling in the role of solution-architect for one of the core business-systems at APG.

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