Chapter 12 – How to Develop Product Roadmap?
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Great products are not accidental. They all start with a focused strategy.
A good product strategy helps the team stay focused, guide the product development and manage the business during the development process. It also helps keep all the stakeholders (internal & external) on the same page.
To lay out and document your strategy, you need to develop a Product Roadmap.
Product Roadmap — What
Product Roadmap is a guiding strategic document – the What & Why of your product, as well as a plan for executing the strategy.
It maps out a high-level visual summary of the product vision and direction.
Building a Product Roadmap
To start building a Product Roadmap, you’ll need to define the Product Vision, key Business Goals and the initiatives you’ll invest in to get to your goals.
1. Product Vision
You need to establish a strong vision for your product which should act as a ‘True North’ for your team. It should be supported by details of Who the customers are, what the customers need and go-to-market plan.
2. Business Goals
Goals define what you want to achieve in a specific duration. For example, Increase revenue by 25%, Reduce churn by 30%, Reduce the number of support tickets by 30%.
3. Themes (for Initiatives)
Initiatives are high-level efforts that would help you achieve your goals. These initiatives are grouped together by a common theme. Example — Better Onboarding, UI Improvements, Better reporting, Better customer support, etc.
Themes are “a promise to solve problems, not build features”. The idea behind developing themes is to take a 30,000 Ft view and focus on the root of the problem rather than burden yourself with a list of features.
Developing themes enables you to define priorities in terms of problem areas or initiatives to tackle these problems. Those are things that everyone can understand. It also enables you to actively incorporate the daily flow of customer feedback and feature requests into your product planning.
4. Prioritize Initiatives
You could use following frameworks to prioritize theme –
- Opportunity Scoring
- ROI Scoring
- Kano Model
5. Using the Theme based Product Roadmap template
This is how a theme based Product Roadmap looks like –
And this is how it talks like –
“Hey, we don’t know what the future holds. So this is an outline of what we’d like to do, and we’ll fill in the blanks as we go.”
This open-ended approach creates space for the experimentation, collaboration, and creativity that leads way to an innovative product. The great thing about such roadmap is that it starts with a problem statement and move towards a solution in a flexible way, rather than start with a feature list and struggle with dates, dependencies.
The three columns are –
- Current: Stuff that you are currently working on.
- Near-Term: Stuff that you’ll be working on soon.
- Future: Stuff that you’d like to work on in the future, but need to do a bit more research before you move on.
You can take a look at few roadmaps that have been made public –
Note that the associated teams are marked by color labels for each card (initiative).
Roadmap (by foldingburritos.com)
Tools to develop roadmap –
Yet another way to develop your roadmap is to use swim-lanes to depict respective teams and show duration in terms of quarters –
You could check out different kinds of roadmap here.
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