12 Reasons Why You Should Be Product Roadmap Planning!

Product roadmap planning has become a huge success in getting products to market efficiently. Often companies find themselves asking, why roadmap? Where are the benefits? This brings us to our top 12 reasons for product roadmap planning and why it’s essential. One thing is for certain, planning is essential for running a healthy, successful business.

#1—Clear Vision

Today’s market is dynamic, ever-changing and oftentimes unpredictable. Therefore, your product is set to survive more ups and downs than ever before. Yes, we are no longer living in the 20th-century, a rapidly evolving product is a reality of our time.

Every vision needs clarity, plan correctly and you will have both. Click To Tweet

In fact, the moment you think you have the perfect idea, you just might realize someone has already beaten you too it. The competition is so strong, easily businesses are left to struggle to keep up with the growing demand of their customers. Which is why product roadmap planning will give you transparency throughout your product releases, keeping you on track for success. Product roadmaps set the foundation for your vision allowing you to review, rethink and correct if need be.

#2—The Why and the What of Product Roadmap Planning

Some of you might garner an opinion that not even a roadmap can help you guess what will work and what will not work in the business. Maybe even going as far as to say “product roadmap planning is just another way to create additional work for ourselves”. But remind yourself that failing to plan is nothing different than enabling a preemptive kill switch in your product.

Product roadmap planning allows product managers to get the first glimpse into the future of their product. It’s in the roadmap where the strategic course of product development gets clearly visualized. The goals, the solutions, and the development backlog–everything is there.

The roadmap is there to answer for you why your team has to work on that particular item and more precisely what should be done in order for that product to materialize into reality.

As Joe Van Os, Product Manager from CentralSquare Technologies notes: “A good strategic plan creates focus for the product. It outlines specifically which market problems the product is designed to solve. Straying from the core focus of the product is typically a recipe for failure.

#3—Jump start collaboration

Solid collaboration and communication among colleagues while working on a new product will do miracles. It’s certainly the best way to gather a genuine and diverse input from different individuals who are all there to help and make the product come to life.

It’s a challenging enough mission to build a new product and it’s not fun at all if you do it alone. Collaboration and communication are key ingredients of the process, and especially during product roadmap planning time. While you never know if your product will win the hearts of clients and partners at the end, be assured that failure will happen if you don’t collaborate and communicate along the way.

#4—Present with clarity

Working on your product roadmap and presenting it in front of others are two completely different processes. You may be an expert in product roadmap planning, but brace yourself for the presentation moment as this is also essential to success.

Once done the product roadmap can help open other conversations among your colleagues. Like, where your company is headed to? Which waters are you sailing? Is everyone on the same boat? Do we need another crew member at this point? The answers to questions such as these can easily start to unravel upon presenting your product roadmap to your team for instance.

Fortunately, the product roadmap can also enhance teamwork. Presenting it to colleagues means opening yourself up to new suggestions through sharing their feedback with the rest of the crew. By doing this you will certainly improve your product.

#5—Align products with corporate strategies

While it’s true that product roadmaps are a strategy-type document, take note that the best product roadmaps still rely on corporate strategies at their basis.

Once you start with product roadmap planning, take care that your product aligns well with the corporate strategy and the goals associated with your business. Otherwise, you will be like singing out of tune.

Aligning your new product with something as substantial as the corporate strategy is how your company’s vision becomes the spearhead of your product. It will allow everyone to work with ease and clarity, and towards a successful launch, since everyone involved will be conscious of the corporate vision during the process.

In addition, as Sameer Patel, former CEO at Kahuna further notes: “At growth stage it’s your product roadmap that’s really the product that’s going to attract senior executives making 3-4-5 year bets.”

#6—Streamline your product backlog

How do you decide what stays and what goes, on your product backlog? Your product roadmap planning time will allow you to do exactly that. Go carefully through your backlog. Analyze each segment. See what needs to change. Cleanse your backlog from outdated, irrelevant tasks and breathe fresh air into the product.

However, streamlining your product backlog doesn’t mean you’ve chiseled anything in stone. You should be aware that revisiting the backlog is a necessity. While adding and removing items on your roadmap, make sure your team is ready for any such change.

#7—Boost team productivity

Another benefit from product roadmap planning is that it enhances productivity amongst the people behind your product launch.

It’s quite important that the information you put on your product roadmap is structured in a way both your product developers and executive board can understand. More importantly, it should be legible also for you, so that if you are the manager presenting the material to your bosses, you navigate around with ease. Done with the proper tool, you can champion this, without spending more time on tasks such as making memos for your presentation.

Once you own a proper tool to carry out your product roadmap planning, which is subsequently communicated across the entire team, you do get a certain kind of productivity boost. Your product roadmap is supposed to prevent people from losing energy on things that are not necessarily important. Think of your product roadmap as your Magna Carta to achieving an efficient and effective product launch.

#8—Marketing with a vsion

The job of your marketing team is to attract customers and make your product shine brighter than all rest. Giving your marketing team a clear vision on what to expect with the product(s) they are selling, can provide great value.

Your marketing team is not the same as your product developers, however, that’s not an excuse to keep them in the dark and strip them off knowing significant and useful information in advance. Share the product plan with everyone on your team, your marketing people included. This way everyone will be able to see what is supposed to happen along the road.

Your marketing team can use the information contained in the product roadmap for creating new marketing strategies with ease and help with defining campaign goals. Also, before the product launch, they will be able to “spice” things up over your social media pages or other channels you use for product promotions.

With shared knowledge on the product roadmap, your marketing team can give hints to your potential customers and current users on what to expect on your next release. This will build momentum before your product release and get people excited about your product. Information and insight is key, product roadmaps deliver both.

As, John Hurley, Product Marketing & Strategy at Radius puts it, “If your company is launching a new product to the world, you don’t just need a roadmap for how that product is going to be created and promoted. Instead, you actually need a Product Marketing Roadmap – one that guides not only how it will come to market, but also how it will build upon products of the past, and enable products down the line – so that there is a forward-looking vision for how a company will successfully grow and build upon itself.

#9—Corporate value

Giving access to the various departments within your company, will induce more value overall across your entire team. Different working teams will have more information to better their judgement and output on their specific tasks and duties. This leads to a streamlined process which leads to getting more out of your product releases, development, marketing and sales

Even more valuable is the fact that people will be clearer on what to expect as they ponder upon this strategic-like document. Expectations are (re)set both inside the company and amongst your customers, investors, mentors, etc. In the words of Greg Geracie, CEO at Actuation Consulting, A roadmap will clearly show internal constituents what they can expect to happen in the next 12 months… and what is not going to happen.”

Regarding clients, Greg Geracie says “The product roadmap shows clients that you are continuing to invest in your products and helping them increase in value. By sharing the roadmap with clients, you can manage their expectations. The roadmap will also keep them informed about where you intend to focus resources.”

#10—Sharing is caring

Sharing your product roadmap not only inside your company but externally as well. This will help guide your customers on their purchasing decision. This is done by giving them key insight into upcoming releases, building excitement and ultimately converting them to purchase your product. External roadmaps typically have less information then internal roadmaps and don’t often change. Keep this in mind!

Use flexibility as your strength and stamina. When you have the proper roadmap(s) you have the freedom to choose what is going to be presented to the first and to the second group of people respectively. If you are operating with two separate product roadmaps, make sure both come together in harmony and that they each contain information that will not mislead anyone on any end.

Having the right product roadmap for your board or for your colleagues will allow you to present your vision correctly resulting in reliable feedback. The value is that you can bring their attention to where you believe their focus is most needed. For instance, your executive board is more likely to show interest on the high level parts rather than your developers who are more likely to show interest on the details.

#11—Roadmaps switch on your freedom to adapt and change

A product roadmap is a living document where you can adapt and change as required. It’s similar to what top managers and executives would do on a regular basis: adapt and change in order for the business to thrive.

It’s inaccurate to think that your product roadmap should never change once it’s built and first presented. You can alter the timelines and amend the features contained in your product roadmap.

For instance, you are one month into product development and after your first sprint release you now see what has worked and what hasn’t. With this information you are probably going to modify the roadmap.

#12—A clear product roadmap is great for internal moral

Reflecting on managing product expectation in startups, Teresa Torres, Product Discovery Coach by profession, has written that “it’s our job to deal with the uncertainty. It’s our job to find the right path.”

She further says: “And it’s also our job to help our teammates feel like we are on a path that will lead to success. They have their own uncertainty to manage. They don’t need ours as well.”

You use a legible, clear product roadmap as a tool for optimism, to assure that success will come from everyone on the team. That the hard work will pay off. You want a product roadmap that will make people put away their worries or doubts and give maximum attention to their assignments.

It’s best when an employee knows what they can expect a week, month, quarter, or even a year in advance. When you prepare a roadmap, remember that you are also preparing insight into the future for your team.

Final thought: product roadmaps help us reach our goals

Love them or hate them. Bottom line is this: product roadmap planning is about delivering key information across your entire organization and its affiliates. Why? Because we all need tools to help us reach our goals. In this case, that is developing something new, exciting, and extraordinary. Our roadmap is a device that sends the message, loud and clear: it instructs employees what to do, informs other audiences on upcoming changes, and promotes foresight, optimism and well-being within the organization. Check us out @ hutwork

Danny Ball

Co-founder & CEO at Hutwork. I’m working hard every day to ensure visual planning is at the forefront of today’s fascinating ideas. Click here to check us out on twitter.

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