If you can’t explain what your product is, how and why people need it, then don’t expect your product to succeed. Developing a brilliant idea and even bringing it to life, unfortunately, doesn’t guarantee your success. Moreover, your product doesn’t have any value unless you introduce its value the right way. Not the product itself, but the meaning behind it and its strategy are the key players. That’s when a product roadmap comes to play a significant role.
Any product has a particular aim and solves specific problems. To achieve an excellent release and entrance to the consumer market, introduce those aims and solutions. What you are building and why is the fundamental question to ask developing a product roadmap.
Developing a product roadmap is not complicated when you know what you should pay attention to before making it.
There’s a popular misconception among people that only a product manager is responsible for all the ideas and solutions to all the problems. It’s desirable for product managers to have ideas. Still, it’s better to integrate all other possible ways of gaining ideas and let the product manager generate all the ideas and choose the best solutions. It’s up to the product manager to define the core values and vision of the product and develop a product roadmap, but only after examining all possible solutions and ways to achieve the goal.
When it comes to finding solutions and new ideas, here’s what we advise you to do:
Listen to your target audience. Let your customers interact with you as much as possible. Due to social media and other channels nowadays, you have a chance to be close to your customers or potential users. Their feedback is a valuable source of information. Listening to them gives you a range of fresh new ideas and the possibility to improve your products to meet their needs. Moreover, problems are more important. Start with finding out the problems and then think about creating solutions.
Who else can tell you about all the complaints customers have? Who is interacting with them in real life and knows what pleases and what disturbs them? Yes! Your sales and marketing department. Don’t underestimate their opinion and interview them to get new ideas.
Image from Age of product
Your product roadmap must involve a story. It should be about your values, your vision, your plans. That’s why it’s essential to clearly define your goals and how you are going to achieve them. Product roadmap content should consist of themes, epics, stories, features and show how they will work together to create an ideal product.
Here are some examples of successful vision statements to get inspired:
Tesla: To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.
IKEA: To create a better everyday life for many people.
Invisible Children: To end violence and exploitation facing our world’s most isolated and vulnerable communities.
Microsoft: A computer on every desk and in every home.
LinkedIn: Create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce.
In a sentence: product vision is how you see your product in the future, what you want it to become. So, it should be inspiring both for your team and for your customers. It should arise strong desire in your team members to unite around a single idea.
From the beginning to the end, the product roadmap should be collaborative. Team discussions and brainstorming on the early stages of drafting a product roadmap will lead to a more effective plan. It’s not about speaking out a point of view but coming up with creative ideas that will help to build a strong product roadmap and affect the result—discussing questions like who, what, how, why not only serves to the proper decision-making process. It also helps to build a culture of alignment. One for all and all for one, that’s what describes best the working process.
After defining your goals and communicating with stakeholders and team members, your next step is to explain everything about the process. Your strategy is the execution plan consisting of the steps your company is going to take to achieve the vision. Due to the roadmap, your strategy moves consistently forward. Your strategy gives a right and constant direction to your roadmap.
On the other hand, due to the product roadmap, you can present the strategy in a visual way. Your product roadmap will show your stakeholders and team members the visibility into the entire process. They will witness all the developing stages. They won’t see just a plain strategy plan in front of them.
Nobody reads roadmaps that are not easy to understand, do you? A complicated product roadmap won’t do you a favor. The product roadmap is a document that reflects your goals, vision, ideas, and plan. So well understanding of all that process will lead to better results. That’s why it’s better to keep it simple. Write as clearly and simply as possible. Organize the information, use simple designs and the right tools. Divide the whole roadmap into steps.
It’s not always possible to define exact dates. Still, depending on the process, you may include some periods, such as a week, a month, etc., to complete the tasks effectively. The suggested timeframe is an approximation. You should take into account that some inevitable situations are unavoidable. For example, market changes, discovered new needs of users should be included in your plan. It means that it is useless to make a product roadmap for a year or longer. Ideally, a roadmap should be for the next few months. It’s natural to forecast how the product is going to grow. Your map shows your tactical steps on each stage. Yet, it should be flexible and realistic aligned with the strategy and entire process.
Hopefully, you will look at your product roadmap developing process not as a complicated thing to do from now on. Keep in mind that a well-defined product roadmap will facilitate the entire product development process and make your team enjoy the process.
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