A product's success depends upon a shared vision that finds its approval from all the internal and external parties involved.
If you have ever been a part of the product development process, you will agree with this statement, regardless of your role.
There are multiple stakeholders, like developers, users, sales, marketing, and suppliers involved in product development. They all need to commit to a common plan and align their work to make it a hit.
When represented in a visual format, this product plan is termed as a roadmap.
In simple terms, it is a plan of action that brings all the teams together around the short and long-term goals associated with the product.
An effective roadmap tells the story of the vision, priorities, direction, and product progress. The roadmap acts as a guiding document that the teams track and revisit to stay on the course.
It also helps them understand if there are any gaps from their side and comes in handy in resolving conflicts between the stakeholders. More than anything, the roadmap acts as a reminder of the final goal.
How To Make Your First Product Roadmap?
Don't worry if you are new to the role of a product manager and have been given the crucial task of developing a product roadmap.
You already have a high-level understanding of the product, what it should achieve, and by when it needs to be delivered. All you need to do is to represent this information in a visual format.
You could be working on the release of a new product or upgrades to an existing one. One thing that you must remember is that product roadmaps evolve over time. However, the underlying vision should not change at any point.
Here is how you can make a roadmap that provides all the answers to your stakeholders and aligns the vision with the product priorities.
Define A Strategy
During the product development and subsequent stages, your stakeholders will often have to reflect upon the "whys".
At such times, you will have to bring their focus on why you are building the product. It is what will define the strategy and the vision of your goal.
It can help you further to answer the following questions if you are struggling to define a clear strategy:
- Why are you building a new or enhancing an existing product?
- What are you hoping to achieve through this product?
- How is your creation going to help the users?
Prioritize The Ideas
When the initial conversations start and also during the product development stage, multiple ideas will pour in.
Moreover, there will also be suggestions from your customers that you would want to incorporate. You don't have include every suggestion, but some of these could be worth your time.
The best way to incorporate them into your roadmap is by prioritizing and ranking them. This way, you will focus on what matters and make your roadmap and vision more objective.
Define The Product Features
Your product features tell your stakeholders what it is that your product will look like. It is also what aligns your development team with your vision.
You can also include other associated information that may help them in fine-tuning the solution.
Plan The Releases
Any roadmap is incomplete without a timeline. It gives direction to all the stakeholders involved. It is advisable to break down the timelines into multiple releases for better efficiency.
Presenting Your Roadmap
Your stakeholders have varying interests, and a single roadmap may not answer the questions they may have.
To align everyone with your vision, you will want to show them something of their interest. It could mean creating a different view for every party.
Here is how you can do it:
The leadership will be keen to know about the high-level vision associated with the product. The leaders will need to understand how the product fits into the larger scheme of things at the organization.
Product Development Team
The development team needs to know every minute detail of the product. For instance, the team will need a comprehensive list of the features, requirements and release dates, etc.
It will help them in prioritizing their work to meet the given deadlines.
Marketing And Sales
These are the teams that engage the customers and are in touch with the market pulse. They will need to understand how your product will make the lives of your customers easy to create a sales pitch.
Here is a team that experiences pressure after every new release. Since the team will be getting more customer queries, they will need to prepare themselves for the critical features and enhancements.
They will be more interested in the dates and the associated training for their staff.
The Evolution Of Your Roadmap
With time, your roadmap will evolve as you may add new features or change the timelines along the way. To incorporate these changes, you must first prepare yourself to embrace them.
Also, remember that although the roadmap may change, the vision should not.
At times, you will realize that a feature is taking more effort than you had anticipated. At other times, you may receive some information from your analytics team that may need some changes in your product plan.
Rarely but possibly, a few situations will arise that will demand you to step back and take stock of things from a new perspective. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is the best example of the same.
In such scenarios, it is advisable to incorporate the new changes into the roadmap. Although the roadmap will change, a carefully chosen vision will not.
Ensure that you send the revised roadmap to all the stakeholders so that everyone is on the same page. The ultimate goal should be to deliver a high-quality product that brings some value to the customers.
A carefully-drawn roadmap is not just another document. It is the basis of your product success. Getting the best product owner certification can help you build better roadmaps and propel the organization to success.
When you make a roadmap after considering all the crucial information, it will help you align your stakeholder and also prioritize more effectively.