Cross Roadmap Planning

Managing a single project roadmap can be a real headache, but planning a combined roadmap of big projects that have many complex dependencies can quickly drive any PM insane. Many of the projects within the organization that I'm a part of have rather complex dependencies - they share infrastructure, resources, and integrated functionality to varying degrees.

Recently, we had a two day planning session that included project managers, dev managers, and architects from these various projects. Our objective was to take our eight separate four quarter project schedules and identify the cross dependencies, impacts, and milestones then figure out a combined roadmap that didn't kill anyone or anything.

stickies It sounds surprisingly simple, but we achieved our goal by iterating a roadmap with sticky notes on a wall (the image shows a small slice of the effort that survived the plane trip home). Basically we assigned each project it's own color sticky note.

Each sticky listed the:
- deliverable description
- project(s) the deliverable would impact
- task(s) required from the other team(s)
- affected resources

The stickies where then individually placed on a wall under the desired quarter in which it would deliver. Alternate categories for placing the stickies included: Low Priority/Unknown Scheduling and High Priority/Unknown Scheduling.

Once the stickies were initially placed, we discussed each one, applied necessary changes, and added the deliverables to an online roadmap. The combined roadmap includes individual project deliverables that have dependencies on other projects - not every deliverable for every project.

We'll continue to maintain the roadmap with tactical updates and continue meeting on a quarterly basis.

Other ideas on untangling cross-roadmap dependencies?

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Sr. Community Engineering Program Manager/Acting Director for Sun's external social networking sites (blogs, forums, wikis, etc.). Skrocki's personal blog, LinkedIn.

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