Today, workplace productivity often requires having a product roadmap to efficiently work on projects. A roadmap is a visual representation of a strategic plan that outlines a project’s major deliverables on a timeline. It helps the team get from a starting point to a finish line.
Why Do You Need a Product Roadmap?
There are several reasons why a team can benefit from using a product roadmap.
To begin with, a great roadmap provides a framework for operational processes and helps a company achieve its organizational goals faster. Using a product roadmap allows for the entire team to collaborate, as it creates a common point of reference for everyone.
Additionally, the product roadmap invites both project managers and team members to visualize the entire plan and outline the next steps accordingly. In this way, everyone can fully understand the strategy and act on accomplishing the goals of the project.
Finally, the roadmap establishes metrics to measure a team’s progress. It helps to accurately track the performance of completed tasks and, based on feedback, to efficiently distribute necessary resources.
Thus, using a roadmap allows all team members to be on the same page and effectively contribute to the common goal(s).
Your business can benefit immensely from using a roadmap, but it is critical to know how to implement it in a productive way.
What You Should Base Your Product Roadmap on
Before developing a product roadmap, it is important to have a solid understanding of the product vision and of current economic conditions. To define them precisely, you can take advantage of tools such as SWOT analysis and Kano models. A SWOT analysis will give you a bird’s eye view of your business, and the Kano model will help you to better perceive the final result of your product development.
The components of a product roadmap may differ based on the company’s timeline, goal-setting methodology, and more, but there are four elements that should be present in any roadmap:
- Product strategy. The product roadmap is the visualization of the strategic plan, so it is impossible to have one without the other. The product strategy usually includes the target audience, USP (unique selling proposition), market analysis, and more.
- The product. You certainly won’t be able to move forward without having a product – even in the form of a concept. It can be tangible or intangible, a product or a service – as long as it is possible to create it. In some cases, there may be several products that are interconnected, and in that case, they should all be added to the same roadmap.
- Milestones. These are needed to schedule the release of your product, as well as to set up deadlines along the way. Examples of common deadlines are providing updates to stakeholders and finding ways to create increased value for customers.
- Goals. There are some rules that every goal needs to adhere to, such as being measurable, achievable, clear, and time-limited. Without these parameters, it is difficult to know if progress is being made and if success is ultimately achieved. Including long-term goals, as well as short-term goals, is essential to progressing successfully. Short-term goals are a progress marker that indicates how and when you will arrive at the completion of long-term goals. They also determine the likelihood of achieving the end goal and open the door for more opportunities to assess and evaluate your roadmap.
Tips for Using a Product Roadmap for Your Project
Let’s consider some general rules for creating and using product roadmaps in your day-to-day operations.
- Be practical and set clear priorities. It is very important to have realistic expectations and well-defined timelines, as well as good communication amongst team members. You need to keep all team members in the loop during the process. Without proper communication, you will stumble upon frequent obstacles in achieving the common goal.
- Know your own budget and desired revenue outcome(s). This allows your vision to progress within its means and helps you stay within adequate financial boundaries. As a result of organizing and including the financial aspect of a product roadmap, you are more likely to obtain success in revenue goals.
- Keep your product roadmap simple. It should be easily digestible and understandable. If it is filled with complex and/or abstract detail, it may be more of a burden than a helpful tool.
- Treat your roadmap as a work in progress. There may be a temptation to try to create a perfect product roadmap from the beginning so that no changes are required. However, in reality, the roadmap must be adjustable and flexible in order to be successful. New competitors, changes in customers’ preferences, and market developments can all alter components of the roadmap. This is especially true in the VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) world we live in. Accept changes and constructive critiques as you follow the steps in your planned roadmap.
- When developing a roadmap, first focus on obstacles that your company has to overcome in order to create the best product possible. Without a clear picture of what problems must be solved first, you won’t be able to move forward. Understanding the challenges ahead will help you recognize what resources you need in order to resolve those issues, and how to better organize your work.
How do you know what obstacles your company needs to overcome?
There are several ways to figure that out:
- Feedback from users. Your own customers can give you valuable information about the shortcomings of your product(s) by leaving reviews, contacting customer service, making returns, etc.
- Product competitive analysis. By researching your competitors, you can get some specific ideas about bettering your own business.
- Usage data. By analyzing your user data, you may get some insights into how your product could be improved upon.
To sum up, using a product roadmap is beneficial for achieving a company’s goals, but creating it may not be entirely straightforward. It is important to do research before making a roadmap and to include all necessary components to make it effective. Preparation is key in the development of your roadmap and will set you up for success. By following these guidelines for creating a great product roadmap, you will increase your team’s efficiency and help your business achieve its goals.