As a product manager, you work day in and day out on prioritization. Every company has limited time and resources, hence it’s necessary to optimize these. This is where prioritization comes into the picture.
Without prioritization, the team and the stakeholders are completely blind in terms of what to build. Through prioritization, you can also determine your product roadmap, which outlines long-term (yearly and/or half-yearly) or short-term (quarterly and/or bi-weekly) plans.
However, choosing the best framework to approach your product roadmap can be challenging given the amount of options. To help you, this article will explain the Now, Next, Later roadmap and how it might fit into your product team.
As the words suggest, Now, Next, Later is a simple roadmap tool that can help teams understand the priority of their work. Let’s consider an example of building a feature to onboard users. You already ran the discovery and now the feature is in the development phase. With the Now, Next, Later roadmap you would break the work into:
Now — This consists of everything that’s immediate/urgent and forms the core of the product. For a feature to onboard users, now will be building a user authentication system that is easy and safe
Next — This consists of requirements that are next in line. After implementing the authentication system, the next would be building the finishing the pipeline of onboarding users
Later — This consists of requirements that are non-urgent but the team would work on at some point. Once the authentication system and the pipeline to onboard users are finished, in the future the team might want to add checks for finding login frauds
As a PM, you work on different features/products and it’s important for you to understand what to work on first. The following are the key reasons to use Now, Next, Later:
Resources are the biggest constraint for software development. This is where Now, Next, Later comes into the picture. It helps you identify what to work on immediately, as opposed to what can be picked up later.
Now, Next, Later helps immensely with short and long-term planning. Every PM knows how important planning is. Without it, the stakeholders are blind and the engineering and design team don’t know what they should work on. Now and next usually target short-term planning, whereas later targets long-term planning.
During the pandemic, everyone had a roadmap until the spread forced teams to pivot. Now, Next, Later helps to incorporate flexibility into your roadmap.
Now that you understand the importance of Now, Next, Later, you can use the following steps to create your own roadmap:
Here is an example template for a now, next, and later roadmap:
For simplicity, I have created this template in Google Sheets.
There are many tools available in the market to create a Now, Next, Later roadmap. These are some of the most common ones:
|Now, Next, Later||Gantt charts||Waterfall roadmaps||Feature-based roadmaps||Project roadmaps|
|Definition||Categorizes the tasks into now (short-term), next (mid-term), and later (long-term)||Provides a visual representation of tasks, timelines, and even dependencies||Follows a sequential structure of tasks that need to be delivered||Groups all the tasks required to finish a particular feature into one||Categorizes all the tasks based on the project|
|USP (Unique selling point)||Versatile and easy to create. Useful for smaller projects||Great for visually showing dependencies between two tasks. Depending on how complex the project is, this might require some special tools to create||Because of its linear nature, this is not suitable for agile projects||Suitable for complex products where there are multiple features||Suitable for managing and visualizing multiple projects|
I have used Now, Next, Later since the start of my product management career. It’s a great way to visualize all the tasks and helps to align with the stakeholders. I used it when I was working on a payments product as well as a B2B task management software. This means it can be applied to products regardless of industry, niche, sector, or organization.
Feel free to use these templates as a guide. Good luck crafting your own roadmap!
Featured image source: IconScout
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