Importance of a Well-Defined Product Roadmap
Every successful product development project starts with a plan. Without one, you’re reducing the odds that your new product will deliver on your vision and its potential. This post will share a few ideas on how important a product roadmap can be to the success of your product development process and will suggest some tools to help you build your roadmap. More importantly, a good product roadmap is an essential management tool to translating your product strategy into an actionable set of projects to deliver on your product vision over time.
A product roadmap helps you visualise the product(s) you want to create, understand how you’re going to create them and plan how to track success of the project(s) to build them. A roadmap is an agile tool that provides a bird’s-eye-view of core product features, objectives, and priorities at each phase of development.
This helps ensure that you and your stakeholders are on the same page, that each member of the product development team understands the bigger picture and their roles on the team, and that everyone can track the team’s progress throughout the project(s).
Some product managers downplay the importance of a product roadmap because it may be considered “old” or “rigid.” But that’s not necessarily true. An agile product roadmap is flexible as it borrows conceptually from the concept of agile product development. It is a living document updated regularly to keep current with customer needs, emerging trends, competitive pressures, technological advances, changing strategic priorities of the business and changes in your team’s design and development velocity.
What Happens if You Don’t Create a Product Roadmap?
Without a well-defined product roadmap, you may very well experience:
- An inability to track and measure progress effectively.
- A delayed or stalled project from unnecessary delays in product development.
- Little-to-no accountability from team members if there are no clearly defined tasks.
- Timeline and cost overruns.
- C-level execs who are disappointed when the product misdelivers on feature/ functionality.
- Dissatisfied clients.
Worse of all, lacking a roadmap can lead to abandoned projects.
However, if you want to launch a product that delivers on the company’s vision, capitalizes on the business opportunity thereby driving new revenue and comes in on time and on budget, you will want to create and use a product roadmap as a key management tool in your product development process.
Reasons Why a Product Roadmap Is Important to Product Development
Everyone associated with the team benefits from product road-mapping including management stakeholders, product owner, project manager, architects, designers, business analysts, developers, QA engineers and especially end-users. And if you use an outside, third-party development partner to help build your product, a good product roadmap will help clearly communicate your product objectives and goals to ensure everyone is on the same page. Other reasons why a product roadmap is warranted?
Establishes Organizational Leadership and Maintain Discipline
A well-defined roadmap helps project managers delegate tasks and clarify responsibilities for each member of the team. This maintains discipline and organizational leadership as everyone understands their role at each phase of the project, and provides a timeline to help make team members accountable to each other and the roadmap itself. Timelines help the team track progress at each stage and sprint helping ensure the ultimate delivery date is met.
Keeps Stakeholders Current
A good product roadmap provides a visualization of the individual projects on the roadmap and their status. It is much easier to keep the CEO, CTO, product owners and others in the loop with a well defined roadmap.
Helps Developers Focus on Priorities
Roadmapping helps developers and other team members better understand the overall product giving them a clear visualization of critical priorities at each phase. This helps them focus on important tasks making quick and autonomous decisions, while managing scope creep more effectively. Developers aren’t waiting for confirmation as they understand what to do at each stage of the project.
Good Tools for Product Roadmapping
Product managers can leverage several free and paid tools to create their own roadmaps. Many of these tools have templates you can download and edit to include your preferences to avoid starting from scratch. Take a look at these tools….
A product roadmap is a key management tool to help product owners and managers translate their product strategy into individual projects that deliver on the company’s long-term business objectives. It is important to remember that a product roadmap should be flexible and that each product feature or idea does not have to be built now.