Software Engineering Management & roadmap handling

Estimation and planning for a better roadmap

Photo by Alvaro Reyes on Unsplash

One of the most important and crucial activity I have as a Software Engineering Manager is the alignment with Product Management on the Roadmap activities.

A good, reliable and stable roadmap is a kind of dream for every developer, because it is the guide of the development activities and not properly calibrating it will create big inefficiencies. But roadmaps are created for being continously reviewed and when needed changed. Having a development roadmap defined spanning one year and pretending to be written in the stone and unchangable is impossible. I never observed it happening. There will be several circumstances for which a change is needed from business perspective, so we should not be scared for planning again and changing, at least until it is done in the best way possible and without following any schizofrenic pattern. We assume we have a healthy Product Management, so the requested changes are conscious and well pondered and not wished without a strong reason and vision ahead.

Anyhow everytime a roadmap has to be changed difficult days will start. It is a difficult task because you have on the table the current roadmap with ongoing activities which could be stopped, new activities with potential due dates, effort estimation for the activities, resource allocation problems. All mixed and interlaced. Everything contribute to make the roadmap shaping complex, especially for the several constraints you have to handle in parallel.

In this post I want to reflect only on one ingredient of the entire recipe: the effort estimations. The software engineering world is divided in two pieces: on one side there are who do not care about estimations at all and suggest to totally avoid doing them, while on the other side there are people like me who believe that doing estimations is anyhow important despite how difficult and uncertain it is.

Practical experience tells me:

Let’s go and estimate because it is funny and it forces you to think wider and sometimes out of the box.

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Alessandro Attanasi

Engineering Manager at PTV Group for Real-Time mobility. PhD in physics with passion in Computer Science, Statistics, ML/AI. Motto: “Never stop learning”