Last time we updated you, we talked about the current roadmap and its limitations, what steps we’re taking to amend that, and shared a work-in-progress shot of our new Roadmap.
The new Roadmap has been in active development and we’re still marching towards our end-of-year target. It may seem like a simple task, but an oft-overlooked aspect of building out this Roadmap is the management of such a massive dataset. Building out the front end for a Roadmap isn’t the hardest part – not even close. The new Roadmap relies on large swaths of data coming in from more than 50 teams, which requires a lot of effort to organize and make presentable for public consumption. In addition, since we’ll be sharing headcount, expertise, and more, this massive dataset will require ongoing and regular maintenance and QC. The key has been in establishing a pipeline/process so that the new roadmap is sustainable.
What To Expect In December
So, what can you expect this December? We plan on delivering a Roadmap that focuses on our core features from our “upstream” teams initially. An “upstream” team is a team that is responsible for a core deliverable (tech/content/feature), while “downstream” teams often won’t have a good idea of their work until the upstream team’s content has been decided and locked in. Downstream teams consist of support teams such as UI, Audio, and other similar teams. The nature of development is obviously that downstream teams have to be reactive to some degree to what upstream teams are working on, which can make it very difficult to accurately map out long-term work. Not only that, but the process works both ways, so often times the downstream evaluations that feed back into upstream planning can alter the upstream team’s timelines.
This video includes real work, real sprints, and real data. This is the format you can expect once we finish gathering data from our teams around the globe to populate the Roadmap for its initial publish. Like we mentioned above, this has been a monumental undertaking for our team, who have been hyper-vigilant in trying to get this right for all of you. Although the work shown in this demo is real, it’s important to note that we haven’t gone through the quarterly planning or go/no go for everything so the duration, time and scope of the work can change.
Release View vs Progress View
The new Roadmap is going to have two views that you can cycle through at your leisure: the Progress Tracker (seen in the video) and Release View. Release View is very similar to what you already see on the Public Roadmap that is currently available. This visualization will show you the upcoming releases, with each card being populated by deliverables that we have the highest degree of confidence will make it into that release. That’s why for the immediate release in the quarter ahead, you will see it generously populated. While we intend for this view to show several quarters out, we want to be very clear that due to the nature of priority shifts (which you’ve seen time and time again), visibility beyond one quarter isn’t something you should consider locked. Development is very fluid, and it isn’t until we’ve passed certain milestones that we can gain confidence on delivery times.
It’s important for us to set these expectations properly. We’re constantly shuffling our schedules around, whether due to technical accomplishments that bring a feature sooner, or technical hurdles that push things back. It may be the case that we decide that the release view for a card that is several quarters out may be completely blank until we have a high degree of confidence of what deliverables will make it in that time frame. And sometimes, we may find that an unexpected pivot or complication causes us to remove a deliverable we once thought was going to make it. That happens today, but with this new roadmap, you would still see the work in the progress tracking view. This progress tracker view, which is the real highlight of this new roadmap, is what you see in the video above, and again, is our intention to show you all the current work for the quarter for all our teams (starting with upstream teams first), and the subsequent work on tap for these teams in the subsequent quarters down the line.
Progress and Priorities, Not Promises
A key goal of ours with the updated Roadmap is to move away from promises of when we think things will arrive, and instead shift the focus to progress and priorities: tracking our current quarter’s progress, what we’re working on, and what our current priorities are for the quarters after. To be entirely candid, we’re fully aware that regardless of caveats or explanations, there will always be folks who see projections as promises. Our new roadmap is not for them; it’s for us to present our progress and priorities, as we said, and show what our teams are working on for those who want to see our development. Content will obviously be more reliable for the current quarter, slightly less so for the quarter right after, and continue to diminish the farther out you go. That is just the nature of development. We don’t always know what we don’t know, and if a team hasn’t started working on a specific piece of content yet, the estimates on velocity and work will not be as accurate. The key is going to be in pulling back the curtain so you know what we know, and to share changes rapidly as our development on deliverables progress every few weeks and sprints.
This is a large undertaking for us, and quite frankly, kind of scary. We’re always trying to find better and more innovative ways to present information and especially progress. We’re going to put ourselves out there with this one. We already have ideas for future additions/improvements and we’ll keep you in the loop along the way.