How to Create a Product Roadmap That Everyone Can Understand!

What is a Product Roadmap?

A product roadmap is a document that outlines the steps that will be taken for a product or solution to be developed over time. Roadmaps are used by product owners to specify future product functionality and the timing of the release of new features. When used in agile development, a roadmap gives the team’s daily work critical context and should be adaptable to changes in the market.

Nobody knew what product roadmaps should look like until recently, but we all knew something had to change.

To communicate our product plans at older companies, we used pen and paper and a release planner. They were long, complicated, and detailed — after all, they were designed for developers — and they resulted in a jumbled backlog that was difficult to follow.

Today, road mapping is a divisive topic, but one thing is clear: It is necessary. We all know that no one reads the lengthy piece. We’re also learning how effective a roadmap can be when it’s so well-designed that teams use it to make product decisions and businesses use it to make business decisions.

We’ll look at how a roadmap can help you connect your work with that of others and reclaim control over your product. But what exactly does that road map entail? Let’s dive in to understand it better.

What does a great product roadmap look like?

A good product roadmap must be visually appealing, easily accessible, and clear enough for anyone to scan for answers to the following questions:

· What exactly are we doing?

· Why are we doing it in the first place?

· What does this have to do with our OKRs?

OKRs are defined as Objectives and Key Results that the product is entitled to achieve through the set of features you are building for the product. It encompasses the milestones you will attain in releasing those features.

A theme-based product roadmap is based on this premise, and the benefits are enormous and immediate.

· Reduce the number of meetings you attend — On the roadmap, your priorities (what and why) are clearly stated. You do not need to explain things to different people in different ways.

· Encourage constructive team debates — Your roadmap can serve as a benchmark for team members to hold themselves and one another accountable for linking deliverables to roadmap goals and OKRs.

· Make product choices, everyone understands — you’re no longer the jerk who dismisses ideas. You can actually discuss customer feedback and ideas using your roadmap and priorities, which are visible to everyone

We must abandon the notion that we can enumerate a set of features that will represent what we will do in the future. This is a ridiculous notion. We should communicate how we will make decisions instead of sharing feature lists with the rest of the company.

A theme-based roadmap is made to be adaptable, so your plans can change as your circumstances change, and it can serve as a communication tool.

To begin, make three columns.

A roadmap, which includes release dates, may be familiar to you. A theme-based roadmap substitute with time horizons made up of three columns:

1. Now — Tasks that you are currently working on

2. Next — Tasks that are coming up soon

3. Later — Tasks that you’d like to work on in the future or need to do a bit more research before you move on

It’s worth noting that we’re not displaying any dates. This isn’t a release schedule; rather, it’s a bird’s eye view of your top priorities. Those are always subject to change, especially in the far future, which you can’t plan for today meaningfully.

The idea is to give yourself some flexibility in case things change. You can push something back if it was current but you no longer want it.

Organize Broad Themes

A roadmap, which includes a list of features and their expected completion date, may be familiar to us.

A theme-based map replaces this with themes, which appear as cards on your roadmap.

According to Jared Spool, founder of User Interface Engineering, themes are “a promise to solve problems, not build features.”

Those words come from the realization that almost any product will receive a flood of customer feedback and feature requests that revolve around a single universal problem.

You can either become a slave to those requests or take a step back and address the root of the problem with a single, elegant solution.

Working in themes allows you to think about how you might approach each problem and then decide how to solve it later.

In user administration in the blue cloud, you can observe it’s considered as them because it consists of certain features that complete that. Sign up for a new account and login for existing users are two basic features that get covered under it. It’s basically a strategic theme to add/login users to an account, not a specific deliverable.

But on a contrary, you can observe that the last one is crossed out. Because you want your cards to be strategic. To be a strategy, “rewriting transactional emails” is far too specific. It’s both an idea and a tactic, and does not belong in the high-level view you’re developing in this step.

It would, however, be more appropriate as an idea within a larger-scale roadmap card.

Inserting Supporting Details

Once you’ve nailed down your themes, you can add more supporting information for anyone who wants to dig deeper. These details help us strengthen what we’re putting on our roadmap, which could include information that’s useful to those who read it:

1. What exactly are we doing?

2. Why are we doing it in the first place?

3. What does this have to do with our OKRs?

OKRs are defined as Objectives and Key Results that the product is entitled to achieve through the set of features you are building for the product. It encompasses the milestones you will attain in releasing those features.

Internally, your team will have access to detailed data that will assist them in preparing for and navigating your workflow. The following are some of the details:

· Ideas — Strategic suggestions for improvement. These concepts respond to a straightforward business question: What problem are you trying to solve?

· Customer feedback — We attach feedback to ideas in Product Board so that it can be linked to potential improvements and we can keep track of what our customers want.

· User stories — For inspiration, consider the following case scenarios: I want to X in order to Y as a user.

Cards in the Future column don’t have to have all of those answers just yet, but they should get a lot more detailed as they get closer to the ‘Current’ term.

Label and Categorize

You can color code and tag your roadmap as you go along to make it easier for the viewer to sort through and filter down based on a specific interest. It’s similar to how you use post-it notes!

Remember, color coding can also help to distinguish certain features based on the parameters you choose like prioritization, efforts, immediate release, customer needs, etc. It simplifies your process of developing features and functionalities for your product.

Source: https://www.smartsheet.com/your-complete-guide-understanding-and-creating-visual-product-roadmaps

User Profiles, maps of cuisines, and reviews are something most customers look for before going to any restaurant. Similarly, what needs to be built when and for whom, the prioritization should be customer-centric rather than features-centric.

Similarly, you can find next and later features to be developed and in case you want to make changes, make sure it helps to solve your customers’ pain points.

How’s that for basic usability? This keeps things simple and engaging visually, and everyone will appreciate not having to slog through stacks of cards to find what they came for.

Rather than staring blankly at one large roadmap, your co-workers can concentrate on the ones that are relevant to them.

The Bottom Line: This Roadmap Is Much Larger Than You Think

The idea’s sheer brilliance is how, with a single gesture, understanding everything about customers becomes the most influential factor in developing product strategy. “Look at us,” companies say when they talk about features. Take a look at what we’ve accomplished thus far.” “Take a look at what you’re dealing with,” companies say when they discuss customer problems. Take a look at what we’re planning to do to facilitate.”

And, in a single stroke, you’re empowering everyone at your company to think in this manner. You are not the only one. Can you imagine the impact that would have?

Just stick to this famous quote by Jeff Bezos:

References

· https://happyproject.in/stoic-decisions/

· https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-better-way-to-build-an-effective-product-roadmap-What-makes-a-good-product-roadmap

· https://www.prodpad.com/resources/roadmap-course/

· https://railsware.com/blog/product-roadmap/

· https://productschool.com/blog/product-management-2/product-roadmap-templates/

· https://www.smartsheet.com/your-complete-guide-understanding-and-creating-visual-product-roadmaps

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