You're unlikely to build a strong product roadmap without a well-articulated product strategy. Learn the basic questions that your team needs to answer in order to build your strategy.
- Suppose I showed you a product roadmap from my company and asked you what you thought of it. How would you know whether it was a good product roadmap or a bad one? You likely realize that you can't really determine the quality of a roadmap unless you know a bit more about my business. So what kinds of things would you want to know? Well, who my customers are and what their needs are, what features our product currently has, and how well the product is meeting the needs of our customers today. And finally, what are the competing products in the market and what functionality do they have.
You might also realize that you can't be sure of what my business objectives even are. Maybe I want to capture the whole market. Perhaps I just want to build a strong business in a niche segment. Perhaps I'm trying to grow revenue. Or perhaps I'm just looking to acquire new users. The point here is that you can't really evaluate the quality of my product roadmap without knowing something about my company's strategy. So, the first step in roadmap development is to clearly articulate your product strategy.
A product strategy is a description of the way your company or business unit intends to achieve its business goals with its product. Here are some of the key questions that a product strategy should typically answer. First, what are your business goals? And how will you measure success? Next, who are your target customers? Which customers do you really want to win? What are the key needs of your target customers that you think you can meet? And what is the key benefit that your product will provide to these target customers? Also, what are the key competitors to your product? What other options do your customers have? And finally, what are the key differentiators between your product and those of your competitors? Although it's not essential, I found that in practice it's extremely helpful to write down the answers to these questions in a brief document.
And even though you, the product leader, may be the person initiating and facilitating the product strategy process, it's critical that your business leader feels like the owner of this strategy. In other words, they must be the key participant in developing it and they must promote and defend it actively with the senior members of your team. The resulting document should be their document, not yours, but you must make sure it answers all of these questions to a sufficient level of specificity.
Once your business leader has a product strategy articulated, in a shared doc or a short set of slides, make sure to discuss it with each of your product stakeholders. It's best to start with one on one meetings where people feel more comfortable giving you their unbiased feedback and concerns. Then after incorporating their feedback, have one group meeting where everyone discusses and hopefully agrees to support the strategy. If you don't have alignment, you'll need to go back and do it all over again.
With a product strategy in place and your key product stakeholders aligned around it, you're ready to start building your roadmap.
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