The Now-Next-Later roadmap format helps to communicate your priorities over broad timeframes with an emphasis on the near-term. This is ideal for teams operating in fast-changing environments where release dates may be subject to change. It is a strategic tool that can be used regardless of the product or the type of initiatives.
The Now-Next-Later Roadmap is good for:
- Communicating with large audiences (e.g., an All-Hands or Town Hall meeting). The simple and streamlined layout reduces noise and is easy for everyone to understand
- Communicating broad plans without committing to specific deadlines
- Striking a balance of communicating to their stakeholders what they plan to work on over time, while at the same time not making specific feature promises that risk pulling them towards becoming a feature factory.
As captured in this Medium post, “A good roadmap at its most abstract is mainly about 3 things”:
- A vision – what do we want to be & where do we want to end up
- A compass – which general direction should we head in to get there
- A plan – A set of steps, directives and instructions we will take to actually get there
The Now-Next-Later framework at its core is designed to handle all 3 of these.
Elements of the Framework
- Now: “What is currently being tackled by the team?”
The first stage can be focused on what the team is currently working on. This can be practical executional in nature. At the ‘Now’ stage it’s easy to track high level issues and focus on specific features that you are currently working on.
- Next: “What are we doing next?”
This stage is about planning for the near future. What key results are you looking for in the next few months? What is the next stage in the development cycle? Here you can start communicating priorities.
- Later: “What do we have in the backlog that may not be urgent but is still worth visualizing?”
In this stage you can visualize your wish list for the product to see how your product might develop in the future.
Product Managers can use tools like Atlassian Confluence to create such visualization frameworks. In fact, if this is used periodically in your organization, I would recommend creating a Confluence template for it.
With this easy-to-use visualization framework, you’ll be able to focus on the big picture and communicate product goals and strategy to everyone in your team.
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