The Do’s and Don’ts of Product Roadmaps

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You wouldn’t begin a cross-country drive and not using a roadmap (or GPS), and neither do you have to try product improvement with out one.

A product roadmap is what connects the near-term product adjustments to the mid-term strategic milestones and the long-term imaginative and prescient. It communicates the sequencing of priorities and helps you intend all of your product-based initiatives.

However many leaders are confused about what goes right into a product roadmap. In the end, there isn’t any proper reply: various kinds of roadmaps go well with completely different corporations.

They’ll present numerous element or little or no; they are often deliberately scrappy or extremely organized with color-coding, iconography, staff associations, and extra. We’ve seen them printed on ten-foot-wide poster paper and contained on a easy Google Sheet.

Whereas there isn’t any “finest approach of creating a roadmap,” there are a number of do’s and don’ts that may information you in crafting your roadmap doc.

The Do’s of Constructing a Roadmap

Let’s begin with the do’s.

  • Do clearly categorize particular roadmap initiatives. Primarily based on our expertise, we’ve realized that each one product improvement actions will be positioned into one among three classes: innovation (making progress in the direction of the imaginative and prescient), iteration (getting higher outcomes from what you’ve already constructed), and operation (sustaining your product and operating your corporation). If doable, on prime of categorizing every initiative, talk the allocation goal for every class to remind the viewers of the extent of funding that was agreed upon.
  • Do paint an image far sufficient sooner or later that it helps different groups to plan accordingly. For instance, advertising may have to begin engaged on communication plans for a big product launch effectively prematurely.
  • Do make clear the rationale behind the work you’re planning on doing. The issues you might be fixing, the worth you are trying to create, and the important thing outcomes you are attempting to ship are sometimes extra vital than the options you at present intend to construct.
  • Do depart room for plans to shift. Improvement timelines are notoriously troublesome to foretell prematurely. As you experiment and validate assumptions by buyer discovery, you will have to have the ability to react to what you study, and the roadmap ought to permit for that.

The Don’ts of Constructing a Roadmap

And now, the don’ts, that are simply as vital because the do’s.

  • Don’t attempt to predict improvement plans to date forward that you just’ll nearly actually change them earlier than you get there. Providing this false precision is a typical solution to erode belief between the product and the remainder of the corporate.
  • Don’t fear about offering the identical degree of constancy for each staff. It’s okay for the roadmap to have a “ragged edge” wherein some objects are higher understood than others, or some groups’ plans lengthen farther into the longer term than others.
  • Don’t make commitments which can be pointless or which can be unlikely to really be met. Typically talking, it’s higher to keep away from feature-date pairs until there’s a particular enterprise purpose the date is as vital as what really ships.
  • Don’t get within the behavior of taking part in roadmap Tetris to power as a lot in as doable. It’s much better to under-commit and over-deliver than vice versa, and also you’ll want some buffer to accommodate the ripple results when improvement doesn’t go in keeping with plan or important suggestions is available in.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Speaking the Roadmap

Constructing the roadmap is simply step one. After that, you have to share it with all of the stakeholders. Listed here are some do’s and don’ts for most successfully talk your roadmap.

  • Do share it together with your executives first, as a result of in the event you get buy-in from leaders within the group, they can assist construct settlement and pleasure about its contents with the remainder of the staff.
  • Don’t current it to the entire firm without delay. Every main group inside the firm may have completely different wants and issues. By presenting to every group individually, you possibly can finest tackle these wants and issues and assist everybody get what they want out of the presentation. We suggest having separate conferences for every of the next teams:
    • Engineering, QA, Structure
    • Gross sales and advertising
    • Account administration, buyer success, and buyer assist
    • Everybody else not in these teams (HR, finance, and many others.)
  • Don’t be boring. Your presentation-quality issues tremendously, and it’s your job to make your presentation participating. Use charts and different visuals.
  • Do create a system for answering questions and getting suggestions. A few of this may be completed within the presentation conferences. Nevertheless, some individuals don’t really feel comfy asking questions or providing suggestions in entrance of others, so additionally take into account conducting nameless surveys after the shows.

One Extra Do and Don’t

We’ll depart you with one closing do and one closing don’t.

Do dedicate the time and assets to making a roadmap. It’s one of the crucial vital paperwork guiding your organization’s actions and initiatives.

However don’t stress about making a “excellent” roadmap. The most effective roadmaps evolve and develop with the corporate and serve to spark the precise conversations about priorities.

Whether or not you decide to construct a extremely detailed, organized roadmap with color-coding and extra, or a broader, deliberately tough one, following these do’s, and don’ts will assist be sure that you craft and successfully share your roadmap.

For extra recommendation on product roadmaps, you will discover Build What Matters on Amazon.

Rajesh Nerlikar Ben Foster

Ben Foster and Rajesh Nerlikar co-founded Prodify, a product administration advisory agency that’s served greater than 60 software program corporations previously 6 years.
Featured as a speaker at prime trade occasions and on quite a few podcasts, Ben Foster has greater than 20 years of product administration expertise. He’s chief product officer at WHOOP and was previously a senior product supervisor at eBay, vp of product at Opower, and chief product officer at GoCanvas.
Rajesh Nerlikar has greater than 15 years of product administration expertise. Previous to changing into chief product advisor at Prodify, he was a know-how advisor at Accenture, an entrepreneur, a product supervisor at Opower, a senior product supervisor at HelloWallet, and a director of product at Morningstar. He’s additionally at present serving as vp of product at Savonix, a Prodify consumer.

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