• Doug Ringer

The Product Roadmap

One of the most discussed topics in product management is the “roadmap”. Unfortunately, the discussions are more about format, its contents, and who should make the decisions than about the future of the company. Talk about letting perfect get in the way of good.

Before we go any further, these are the definitions I use when talking about strategy and roadmaps.

  • Product Strategy: Strategy is the vision or goals for your product line. Simply stated: “This product line will accomplish X, Y, & Z within 24 months.” Strategy is the WHAT.

  • Product Roadmap: If Strategy is your goal, then the Roadmap is HOW in will be accomplished.

I posit the reason more companies do not have a viable, demonstrable product roadmap is that the leaders of the process dive too deeply into features, benefits and technologies far too soon. These topics are important, but there are topics that are far more important to setting the boundaries and velocity of the roadmapping process. They are:

  • Are the boundaries of our corporate strategy clear?

  • Have we identified a sufficient market need?

  • Are we or can we be capable of addressing it?

  • Does the market recognize us as viable alternative to our competition? If not, do we have the ability to profitably change that perception?

If the roadmapping process is started before these boundaries are set in stone, then the team will end-up taking three left turns to go right, and will repeat this time and again.

Think of going on a vacation with your friends. Unless you are just taking a joyride, you have a destination in mind–a strategy if you will. Now all you have to do is figure out how to get there while viewing as much natural beauty as possible.

Using an actual paper roadmap, you mark where you are and where you want to go. Then you look at the various routes that can take you there. Your group debates the merits of route #1 that has a famous amusement park vs. route #2 that has beautiful vistas and amazing local restaurants. You choose route #2 because your “strategy” is to see as many sites of natural beauty as possible on the way to your ultimate destination.

This example shows how straightforward it is to create a product roadmap that supports your product strategy. Define the boundaries you want to remain within before discussing alternatives on attaining your goal.

There will be dozens, if not hundreds of these types of discussions and decision points to make during a product development cycle. It is far easier, cheaper, and saves a tremendous number of hours if you set guidelines and firm boundaries before you begin.

What are you doing in this time of unprecedented change to remain successful? If you are trying to simply hold on until we get back to "normal," then you are failing to take advantage of opportunities to leap ahead of your competition.

If you want some ideas to dramatically improve your product strategy and commercialization, let’s talk.



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©2021 by Doug Ringer. All Rights Reserved.

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