Product roadmap helps to define the growth plan of the product. Most product companies find it difficult to plan an accurate product roadmap because of the short and long term business goals that might evolve with time and lack of expert consulting.
A good product roadmap not only helps to identify the level of investment required to deliver a functional product in the specified period of time, but also acts as a strong foundation for the future of the product. It additionally enables product managers to capture a 360 degree feedback from customers and other stakeholders on where the product is headed, constantly iterate to release better and frequent version after every sprint, and thereby bring business agility.
Outlined below are the six common product roadmapping mistakes and the steps to avoid them:
1. Freezing the roadmap – A committed approach to product roadmap is really great, but freezing it ab initio isn’t the right thing to do especially if the market is evolving and so is your business model. Make sure you update it with time and describe it as a high level plan to your stakeholders. Show only the relevant information without going into the detail.
2. Thinking features – A product roadmap is framed to develop a product that solves problems. A feature based plan blocks opportunities to solve a problem in various ways. Moreover, thinking features and functions will also drive the conversation around them rather than possible solutions that will resolve the end user problems. Thinking features lead to a low level detailed plan, but remember product roadmap is a high level plan.
3. Going solo on the roadmapping – Not involving customers and other stakeholders while roadmapping is one of the biggest mistakes. Collaboration helps to strategize better and map actual problems with the solution.
4. Detailing epics in the plan – Avoid detailing with user stories and epics. This will again break the high level plan to smaller detailed function specific plan. The big story, high-level plan can be covered in the product roadmap whereas the user stories or detailed product experience which can be covered in the product backlog.
5. Missing on the strategy – A good foundation cannot be formed unless there is a product strategy in place. A detailed product strategy has the features, market segment and various other value props outlined clearly. Basis this, the roadmap is formulated. If it is a new product, test the usability for the first few months after the launch of MVP and then formulate the way ahead.
6. Stopping launch due to changes – A product roadmap is futuristic and guides the overall development. However, it’s evolution should not stop you from launching the product. At times, you might like to change the plan and development process or embrace new technologies, basis the feedback. You can do so with Agile and iterative development and incorporate feedback at each sprint before launching the final product.
Product development is relatively complex and without an accurate roadmap it can surely derail. Avoid the common mistakes highlighted in this blog and come up with a high level product roadmap which is more sustainable and Agile.