Product roadmaps might at first seem redundant or outdated. Learn why they can be not just useful but often critical to the success of your business.
- You might be asking yourself why you need a product roadmap at all. After all, if you work on an agile product development team where you plan one sprint at a time, what's the point of making a long-term plan? And is it even possible to create a roadmap in a dynamic market environment? Through my experience, I've learned that for most organizations, product roadmaps can be extremely valuable, if not critical, to the success of the business, but only if they're built correctly. To understand why, we need to think beyond the product development team to the larger business that it serves.
Let's start with the basics. A product roadmap is nothing more than a long-term product development plan that gives all product stakeholders the information they need to coordinate their planning. Before we describe exactly what a roadmap looks like and how to build one, let's talk about why we might need one and what exactly it's used for. The product roadmap allows all of the different stakeholders of your product to plan and coordinate their own future activities. Another way to think about it is that a product roadmap provides predictability to the product development process, and everyone loves predictability.
Now let's examine a few of the product stakeholders, the different groups of people inside and outside of your organization who will be impacted by product development. Let's also imagine how the product roadmap can help them to become more effective. First, your customers. If you serve large enterprise customers, they often want to see your product roadmap to help them make purchasing and implementation decisions, especially if the industry is new and changing quickly. Second are the customer-facing groups in your organization, like sales, and marketing, and customer support.
They may use a product roadmap to develop their materials such as documentation and training, all of which require some lead time. Third are your investors, your board, or executive sponsors who may use a product roadmap to estimate future revenues, and costs, and decide what level of resources to allocate to your group, including financial investments and a hiring plan. Last, and the one people often don't think about, are your own architects, engineers, and designers. They can use the visibility provided by a roadmap to create higher-quality designs for your product.
Without a longer-term plan in place, design can become piecemeal and create unforeseen problems, and there can be many others. Consider your human resources team, who might need to change hiring plans, or your legal team, who might need to develop contracts, and so on. There's another critical but less obvious function that a product roadmap can provide. It forces the leadership team of your business unit to clearly articulate its business goals and its strategy for achieving them.
Having a product roadmap helps ensure that your product development efforts are aligned as closely as possible with your strategy. And having the key stakeholders aligned around that roadmap ensures that everyone works together effectively.
This course shows how to build a product roadmap for your business—and gain critical stakeholder buy-in. See examples of what roadmaps might look like, and spend time learning the tools and techniques necessary to map the projects for your specific organization. Instructors Teg Grenager and Eldad Persky help you create strong, dynamic roadmaps that will ensure your team is working on the right projects at the right time.
- What is a product roadmap?
- Roadmaps in agile organizations
- Selecting stakeholders
- Researching customers
- Identifying milestones
- Estimating effort
- Maintaining the roadmap