There is a growing trend on how roadmaps shouldn’t include deadlines and features but instead should focus on themes and goals. I have to admit I’d like to work in that dreamland. However, in order to actually ship products we need deadlines. Period. Of course these should be rough deadlines for which developers were given enough time and information to come up with. But at the end of the day, we NEED deadlines.
Otherwise it is very easy to drift into endless tweaking (both the design and the code) and thus waste time. Not having deadlines not only wastes design and development time but also causes a company wide restlessness and restrain the rest of the company from planning their own actions.
So, it is obvious we need deadlines. (It is, isn’t it?) The important thing is that product people have to make sure that the voice of customer is heard. Also, they must be certain that the final roadmap items are in line with the product vision and strategy. If we have these in place then we are ready to estimate and plan the hell out of those roadmap items.