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How to Build a Product Development Roadmap?

  • James Wilson 
Building a Product Development Roadmap Requires Input from a number of sources.
Building a Product Development Roadmap Requires Input from a number of sources.

The product roadmap envisions the step-by-step developmental process of a product.

The advantage of having a roadmap is that it defines everything expected from the Product. It communicates the requirements to all the stakeholders. With a roadmap in place, it becomes comprehensive to explain the strategy, particularly to different internal stakeholders.

When do you require a Product Development Roadmap?

But, you might ask whether you require a product development roadmap for your organization. The answer depends on your organization’s requirements. Creating a product is a resource-consuming process when you’re building a new product for a large or medium-sized company. Building such development requires constant inputs and investments, which might fail if not appropriately planned—preparing a roadmap before a product buildup makes it easy to modify the plan. 

A product requires the whole organizational efforts instead of sectional efforts. Therefore, the developers and the marketing and sales teams also need to understand the requirements.

What do we mean by a Product Roadmap?

Your product development roadmap is a tool that executes extensive efforts to obtain the business objectives. The roadmap allocates time for distinct features that compliment the general business goal.

Product roadmaps are not the organization’s usual instructional maps like feature templates. Thus, organizations should not confuse these general listings with product roadmap checklists. After careful considerations and filtering, product managers consider these listings to contribute to the product development process.

Roadmaps evolve throughout the Product Lifecycle according to market trends and consumer requirements. Thus the true ideal of a product development roadmap checklist is more dynamic than other rigid guides.

Steps to ensure your Product Development Roadmap is successful

1st Step: A concrete strategy in place

Defining the why of your Product shapes it for its future course, and it sets the goal, vision, and how it will contribute to its growth.
A robust product vision shares the crucial details of the Product with the team to understand its nuances and necessities. They devise a product that competes in the market. Additionally, when product managers share the vision, it helps the team ideate on a single aim without getting distracted. Thus provides a competitive advantage during performance marketing. 
The vision involves all nuances and specifications like who this Product will serve. These specific customer requirements will create a difference within your competitors when launching in the market.

2nd Step. Assemble all the feedback and requirements

Three primary sources and processes of doing that- 

Gather the requirements by first speaking to your customer support or sales team. They are in-direct touch with your consumers and better understand customer requirements and market performance. The experience of how the market grips over your Product and what they feel about your brand. They’ll inform you about the consumer feedback based on which you can optimize your features for present or future services.

Make channels and leverage social media to engage with your consumers. You’ll gain insightful ideas from experts who use your Product every day.

Leverage your team’s product knowledge. Your team understands your brand and Product KPIs (Key Performance Indicator) and USP (Unique Selling Point). They have a profound insight into its characteristics and limitations. Blend all the three input sources to map out how and what your Product should function with.

3rd Step: Review and rank the ideas.

After gathering requirements from the above sources, it’s challenging to filter the features without ranking them in essentiality order. By scoring the ideas with metrics under your strategy, you’ll understand the product features that will impact your business’s objectives. Scoring involves subjectivity out of idea evaluation.

4th Step. Divide a comprehensive timeline into your Product development roadmap features-

Cliff Gilley, the technologist and Product Manager of “The Clever PM” says- “The level of detail on your roadmap needs to leave room for innovation and agile responsiveness,”.

And this has got several product owners to nod in agreement! We discussed earlier how a product development roadmap is not a rigid guide. So, It should have room for changes, tweaks, and modifications, which requires extra time. When you create hard deadlines, you’re dedicating your employees to assurances that can become hard to deliver. As a product owner, you are responsible for putting guidance in your team rather than strict dates. Thus, several PMs assign these specific features and allocations monthly rather than with strict dates.

5th Step: Involve your stakeholders to engage with the roadmap 

A product’s success is not only on the designers’ or developers’ shoulders. To gain support during the product lifecycle from development to marketing, involve the stakeholder’s buy-in. You can achieve this by delivering a roadmap customized according to their specific interests.

Here’s an overview of general internal stakeholders of the company and how they define their interests in the product roadmap-

  • Engineers and developers: Requirements, deadlines, sprints, and specific tasks. 
  • Organizational executives and higher management. -The higher management considers the components abstracted in the product development checklist. The information in it highlights the market size.
  • The marketing department. -Your marketing team will be more interested in the product strategy, USP, and the Product’s potential to yield sales.
  • Your sales team. Your sales team would need specifics about product releases and how the Product caters to the consumer’s requirements. But, don’t add rigid release dates since it might shift, but present a general idea.

6h Step. Stay flexible while sharing your final roadmap.

Finally, it’s time to share the product development roadmap with all the segments of your organization that will engage during the product lifecycle.

You’ll have to make your Product flexible for changes based on inputs during that. You’d have to keep in mind that your features are built. They are not set in stone since the Product and expectations evolve. With time, resources and market need change, impacting the final product roadmap.

Bottom Line- Your takeaways from the process

Your first product development roadmap can be challenging since you involve many teams and gather requirements from all resources over changing market conditions. It will keep varying over the course, degree but in the end, it would benefit your final Product’s positioning in the market. All the above steps are crucial in determining a product buildup that is scalable and works according to all segments.