Product roadmaps provide a visual representation of where a company’s product is heading. They are probably the most visible contribution to the product team. Roadmaps are not only the responsibility of product managers; they need to account for the opinions of many stakeholders, who often do not get to be included in the final product.
Collaboration is the critical ingredient for a successful roadmap. This means all stakeholders, including sales, marketing, engineering, and leadership, must understand the product vision, scope, and purpose of the product roadmap. Their requests must be considered, and they need to get feedback and understand why their request was included. This collaboration leads to a product roadmap that includes stakeholder buy-in and products that are more likely to deliver real value.
Collaboration is key to creating a product roadmap
Collaboration is essential to creating a product roadmap. Everyone in the company will be affected by where the product is going (and why). Look at the following:
- The product roadmap is a guideline that outlines the outcomes that will affect all. From top-level executives to individual contributors, every person’s success is linked to the product somehow. It makes sense to create a roadmap that addresses the needs of all people, not just the product team.
- Additional insights become available from groups and departments. The knowledge and expertise of stakeholders extend beyond the product team’s area. Product managers cannot spend their time talking to customers, unlike customer success and support. These insights are essential to keep product backlog updated and create roadmaps that address the needs and concerns of users.
- Product Stakeholders must buy-in. Product managers often lack the authority and knowledge to make product decisions. They must instead use their influence and soft skills to gain support. Engaging stakeholders early in the process is crucial. This proactive approach can help uncover new insights and reduce risk. It also ensures that valuable resources, time, and work are not wasted by involving stakeholders early.
In summary, it is essential to involve stakeholders in creating a product roadmap. This will provide the context, shared ownership, and collaboration necessary to bring new products to life.
Collaboration is the best way to build a product roadmap
You are the primary owner and responsible for involving stakeholders at every stage of the process. It all starts with identifying your stakeholders. Your stakeholders are typically sales, engineering, and marketing. Customer support and Customer Success teams are also critical. You should look for departments with high-level views of the company and its product strategy, or who regularly interact with customers. You should also include any person who influences the product management process (such as investors and leadership). Once you have identified your stakeholders, start collaborating on the story-mapping process.
Identify product strategy & priorities
Your product roadmap should communicate the product strategy so that everyone understands it. It should clearly outline the overall direction of your product and what you intend to achieve along the way. The product manager should meet separately with each stakeholder group.
Begin the conversation with your key stakeholders. Identify the top-level goals for the product. What do you want the product’s position to be at the end of each quarter? Discuss how to tie product strategy and high-level company goals.
Imagine your company wants to increase the number of customers by 20% by 2023. One product goal that might support this goal could be “Reach 2,400 paying customers by Q4 2022.” This helps ensure that your product roadmap is in line with what you are trying to achieve overall.
Meet with other stakeholders to discuss the strategy. This will help you to plan your product roadmap. Stakeholders should share the priorities they are most interested in. Because of the insights gained during product demos, sales might decide to create a particular feature this quarter. Engineering might be able to point out technical debt or bugs that could impede progress. Stakeholders should have data to support their reasoning.
Priorities will be different across teams. As Product Manager, you assign a priority ranking for ideas that each team considers necessary and evaluate them against the overall strategy. These rankings will be revisited later. Analyzing all input from different teams can confirm that “We are making this decision because of ABC.”
Share product priorities
Product managers must ensure that all stakeholders are clear about the product backlog refinement and roadmaps. Discuss all input from stakeholders and their priorities with your product team. Then, create a draft of your roadmap.
This step can be overwhelming due to the amount of information you have. It is essential to have one tool that organizes all the information you need. You can also use a product prioritization tool to assess inputs and prioritize rankings from stakeholders.
To avoid any misaligned expectations, it is vital to share the working roadmap draft with stakeholders once you have it. The meetings should be a chance for stakeholders to become aware of product direction and establish priorities. While you may be under pressure from competing priorities, make sure that everything is tied back to the original product strategy.
Designing and refining product backlog and product roadmap
The input you have received will assist your product team in creating a complete structure for your final product roadmap. These elements will help you keep your final product roadmap simple and easy to understand for your target audience.
Let your audience know when short-term and medium-term features will be released. We are not referring to specific dates or deadlines. Instead, indicate the time it will take to complete a feature, such as a sprint or a Program Increment (PI).
At the same time, it is important to track release dates, as marketing events and campaigns need specific due dates.
Describe the prioritized features that you would like to see in the timeline. You can be as detailed or high-level as you like, but just make sure to explain the reasons for each feature.
All teams should know where the product is heading and what goals they are trying to achieve.
You can either work alone or with your product team to define and refine your roadmap. It does not matter what; your roadmap is created independently of any input from other departments. It is vital to have a product roadmap that is clear and easy to follow. This is where you can present your stakeholders.
Presenting Roadmap to Stakeholders and Team
Stakeholders can review your roadmap. From now on, it is critical to keep a constant communication cycle. Everyone in the product development team and engineering team should have access to the product roadmap and be notified of the changes.
The roadmap should never be created without the stakeholder’s review and approval. The roadmap should have stakeholders involved at all stages. An ongoing communication strategy will ensure that all stakeholders are informed about the progress made on the product and the changes required. We recommend establishing regular meetings to review the roadmap and progress.
A product roadmap that is regularly communicated with stakeholders is part of the agile product development process. If there are any changes or delays, stakeholders can adjust and take corrective actions as needed.
Collaboration is key to a product roadmap that succeeds
The ultimate goal for creating a product roadmap is the development of the product that customers use. The collaboration process can be complex. Too many people working together and providing input, directions, and priorities can quickly make it overwhelming. But a collaborative roadmap, when accompanied by a clear product strategy, is well worth it. Stakeholders feel more involved in the roadmap development, and it reduces the likelihood of miscommunications between teams.
About PPM Express
PPM Express is a cloud product management software. PPM Express helps product managers define strategy, set goals, capture ideas, prioritize backlogs, create roadmaps, and collaborate at scale. PPM Express integrates natively with Jira and Azure DevOps to manage portfolios of products, large programs, and solutions.
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