In my early days as a founder (CEO) of my first startup. I struggled to maintain track of the progress, feedback, and strategy progress. Profoundly, I was unable to create a roadmap that would heed all product scenarios.
Yet, some failures and criticism drove me to learn. How to plan, research, organize, prioritize, manage staff, and conduct brainstorming meetings for product development and launch.
In this article, we will delve into the various aspects of product roadmaps, and how can a product manager execute their product development roadmap with stakeholders.
What is a product roadmap?
In actuality, a product roadmap is a visual representation of a product's vision, which helps a business unify behind a high-level product strategy. It's like a freeway leading to your product's intended vision or end goal. Basically, it's a strategy that answers the question, "What am I going to build?" "What am I going to develop next, whether it's in 6, 12, or 24 months, and why?
To put it another way, a product roadmap is a very sophisticated strategic tool or document. You create a theme for your projects, present them to your stakeholders. And then move on to more essential product management tasks. Which can help the product stand out in the market and persuade customers to buy it?
“A product roadmap is about communicating the why. It is about the ultimate destination and the major steps. That the team intends to take along the way (goals to be reached, problems to be solved). A roadmap should not delve deeply into the what and the when. It should stay at the why level. It should inspire your teams to develop a release plan. A delivery plan or a project plan for how to deliver the vision.”
- By McCarthy, Author of Product Roadmaps Relaunched
Types of Product Roadmap
You and your team may create a product roadmap in a variety of ways. Each sort of product roadmap has a distinct function, that should be aligned with the CEO's and customers' requirements.
Status-oriented, theme-oriented, and outcome-oriented roadmaps are the three types of roadmaps: those are described below. There are a variety of different methods for creating and orienting roadmaps. But these three, are the most useful, particularly for producing alignment.
A status-oriented roadmap helps you to have a better sense of where the team is right now, without having to commit to a specific timeline. The simplicity of this style of roadmap is its major advantage.
It's divided into three columns based on the Now, Next, and Later state of each delivery. It aids in prioritizing and eliminates any uncertainty. What the team is working on at any particular time.
Here's a brief rundown of how a status-oriented roadmap may look:
- Whatever the team will be concentrating on, over the next several sprints.
- This part should not change and should describe explicit business objectives/problems.
- Whatever the team should be concentrating on a few weeks from now.
- This part should be more defined than the "later" section, and it should be less likely to change.
-As you might expect, this is what is now in the icebox (a few months out, depending on your sprint length).
-This section may be the most ill-defined and open to interpretation.
A theme-oriented roadmap communicates the value, that will be given to consumers without specifying, what the team will produce inside that topic?
Maintaining a high-level roadmap allows stakeholders and team members to align on the product's direction and vision without diving too deep into the details.
This roadmap keeps the team focused on the bigger challenge at hand. And it's simple to question one another if something new comes up that fits into the present time frame. The majority of the time, a theme-oriented product plan is based on a quarterly based.
Theme-oriented roadmap implementation
An example could be, to improve the user experience of an application. Where a product manager aligns with stakeholders and seeks out ideas and customer feedback. Afterward, he will decide what exactly time will take to develop the application. Based on feedback and ideas he will set a theme-oriented roadmap. Thus the roadmap will go a long period. Because customer feedback will come consistently.
However, before establishing the topic. It's indispensable to comprehend the product strategy. As well as the general short- and long-term objectives that must be met.
Well, the theme or goal should be linked with the organization's broader strategic vision.
You and your team can nest epics beneath those strategies. Afterward, your stakeholders will be agreed on them. The product team can obtain a bet by layering epics beneath a theme.
An outcome-oriented roadmap is quite similar to a theme-oriented roadmap. What distinguishes it is what happens at the highest level; a consequence.
The term "outcome" refers to "anything that happens as a result or consequence. By deciding on the results you and your team want to achieve. Basically, you give the team complete control over the solution.
Most roadmaps we see these days have a major flaw: they define the solution before the problem, instead of turning it around.
It will not only create a better atmosphere for your staff. But it will also keep stakeholders pleased.
Why stakeholders like an outcome-oriented roadmap
The majority of stakeholders don't have an interest in which feature you're working on. Rather, they want to know what challenges the team is attempting to resolve.
For instance, the goal would be to improve the app retention rate by 10% in 7 days.
The team must next find out how to make this happen and specify the tasks that must be completed.
This method gathers agreement with stakeholders, and it's fine if you don't always want to share it with customers. Most of the time, simple updates on what's coming are enough.
When you're completely aligned with the desired goal, you'll be able to achieve it.
Where do we start?
The first step is to start documenting everything. Afterward, the product manager should schedule a brainstorming meeting with his stakeholders to solicit different ideas and customer feedback and understand the company's goals and priorities. Later he should make a roadmap using a template, excel spreadsheet, PowerPoint slide, and other tools.
When creating a roadmap, product managers should allow their imaginations to run wild. This would be a great start in order to stand on the CEO's vision and mark the success.
Thus, a skilled product manager ensures that executives express the business's demands distinctly.
One of the most typical mistakes is made by product managers. That they don't update roadmap on regular basis. A reasonable rule of thumb is to update the roadmap at least once a week. Depending on changing market conditions, requirements, or company goals.
How do you keep stakeholders informed about your product roadmap as it develops?
Knowing your audience is the foremost principle for any type of communication. Hence roadmaps are no exception.
Top-down communication, such as providing detailed plans to executives, conveying strategic goals to executives.
However, presenting and communicating your roadmap plan is not an isolated step in today's agile world. You can't just go from establishing your roadmap to communicating it to putting it into action in a straight line.
Every stage of the process is iterative, and communication is an important component of it.
In order to mark the success, a product manager should make a plan before making a roadmap. First, he should schedule a brainstorming meeting with his stakeholder to seek out different ideas, loopholes, market conditions, and requirements.
Afterward, he needs a roadmap for what he delivers and when. This could be the launch of a new product, customer enhancements, to an existing one, etc.
Prioritization makes you reduce stress, helps you focus, and ignores FOMO even time management and productivity will be improved.
Open communication with department leaders in engineering, sales, marketing, and customer service is critical at this point.
Hence, discussing their top priorities and see how they fit into your themes. It would be a good initiative to work on a mutual goal, and they would be more inclined to support you.
To analyze a proposed project, use a structure thorough process, such as the effort vs value model. In the end, the method of prioritizing you is what matters.
Execution comes from experience. However, a product manager should appoint only experience executives in his team.
Once you have prioritized works in the roadmap to reflect your strategic goal. Now it's time to translate product vision into actionable steps.
The roadmap you're using right now needs to be more specific. You should set aside resources, give ownership to different members of your team, and set delivery dates.
It's critical to ensure that all stakeholders in your company are on the same page.
Once strategies have been decided and engineers have been put in place. Schedule a meeting with sales, marketing, customer service, and other departments to discuss what will happen next.
When presenting to customer-facing teams. A product manager should use a high-level product roadmap that communicates product direction while avoiding precise timeframes.
To successfully bring a new product or feature set to market, the marketing team must first grasp its positioning.
Furthermore, the sales staff must understand how the product will answer the customer's problems in order to demonstrate its worth to prospects.
There are many tools, a product manager can create a roadmap to mark the success. For instance, whiteboard, Excel spreadsheet, PowerPoint slides, and other tools. In general, it depends on your controllable resource.
For instance, Jira software is an agile product roadmap tool, that supports any vision to mark the success. Where you can find features such as agile boards, backlogs, roadmaps, reports. And you can integrate your plan, and track the progress.
Therefore, in the initial period of your startup, you don’t need to go for any software. Concerning our experience, you should go for templets It could excel sheet and PowerPoint slides.
We would love to befriend your suggestion and knowledge towards our products (Templets).