Who pushed your release two weeks out? Who deleted your Q4 initiative? Who changed the description of your upcoming feature? For goodness sake, who messed with your color scheme?
Well, now you can point fingers.
We’re excited to announce our new History feature, which tracks all changes made to bars and containers on your roadmap so that you can keep track of who’s edited what.
To view the report, simply choose “History” from the sidebar in ProductPlan. You will be able to see who on your team made each change, and at what time they did so. Or simply filter by product manager (or any other parameter) to narrow in on any specific changes.
You can also view the history for a specific bar or container — simply click on it and select “More” for a full report on that particular item.
Whether you’re monitoring an entire roadmap or just following a few initiatives, it’s now easier than ever to keep tabs on the changes that matter to you. No more mysteries. Let the blame game begin!
But in all seriousness, we know that it’s important to keep a living roadmap. And we know that product management is nuanced and decisions are made all the time that result in having to deviate from the original plan. So why not make it easier to keep track of all these changes? We believe transparent communication leads to better teams, and better teams ship better products.
Here are few additional benefits of tracking roadmap history.
1. See What’s Changed on Your Roadmap
It can be frustrating to open a roadmap and see that things are not as you left them. History allows you to get answers right away. Spend less time trying to identify all the edits and play detective as to who made them and more time actually discussing the strategy and clarifying why certain decisions were made.
Collaborating on web-based roadmaps and tracking changes online cuts down significantly on the admin workload. Anyone who has ever built and shared roadmaps in Excel or PowerPoint knows how much time is wasted versioning files and passing around email attachments just to communicate small changes.
Agile teams need efficient ways of communicating — and that’s why we’re invested in building features like History that automatically track and report changes, bridging communication gaps and eliminating unnecessary work.
History also makes it harder for important roadmap changes to fall through the cracks. Perhaps a deadline was slightly adjusted, the order of two initiatives was swapped or a feature was tagged as team A’s responsibility instead of team B’s. These changes, that may have otherwise flown under the radar, are now easily visible with History.
2. Be Transparent With Your Stakeholders
As creators and owners of the roadmap, product managers need to know all roadmap updates. But it can be just as important for the audience of your roadmap to be able to track changes and easily understand what’s different from the last time they saw it.
As a product manager, you’ve likely gotten some version of this question from an executive before: “What are you working on and what’s the progress?”
History is an easy way to give your executives a quick run-down of what’s new — it can serve as a summary of everything that’s happened since your last roadmap meeting. You can even grant stakeholders self-service access to your roadmap, so that they can simply sign in at their convenience and review the changes for themselves.
3. Encourage Your Team to Collaborate
Groups can produce far more than individuals. A group will often make better decisions and reach more accurate conclusions than one person acting alone. Collaboration is essential, but you need the right tools to facilitate it.
It can sometimes be hard to let go of your baby. Maybe you spent months putting together your 2016 product roadmap, and you want feedback — but perhaps not too much feedback. History gives product managers the security to let others edit the roadmap without relinquishing control. You don’t want to pass up opportunities to collaborate — your product will almost certainly be better off for it — but it’s nice to have an insurance policy.
And collaboration is a two-way street. When people know that their changes can easily be reviewed and undone — that if they make a mistake, it’s not the end of the world — they often feel more comfortable contributing. Empowering people to take risks can lead to some really great breakthroughs, and History gives you the proper controls to encourage risk-taking while still staying in the picture.
Roadmap History Leads to Better Communication and Better Results
Static roadmaps that lock-in long term plans are a thing of the past. Frequent changes to the roadmap are now the rule, not the exception — and that’s a good thing. Teams that iterate and constantly adjust course in response to customer feedback and market changes have been behind some of the world’s most successful products.
When Marty Cagan said that roadmaps are the reason why most products fail, he meant that committing to a negotiated feature set and delivering it on time is not the same thing as shipping a great product. Your process needs to be flexible and the roadmap needs to enable you, not tie you down.
A common challenge that many product managers and their colleagues face is not the fact that plans change, but that such changes are poorly communicated. Disjointed communication makes it difficult to align the organization around your product strategy.
And that’s where a web-based, interactive roadmap shines. Product roadmaps are important communication tools, and our new History feature is another step toward making communication as simple and as transparent as possible.