The following is an excerpt from our whitepaper, available for download, Top Three Frustrations of Product Managers & Tips to Avoid Them.
Defining and Executing on the Roadmap
The product roadmap communicates the value you expect to deliver to both your business and your customer. It ensures your company’s product plans dovetail with its longer-term strategic goals, maps the product’s delivery path and known iterations throughout its lifespan and creates unified buy-in across all groups of product delivery stakeholders.
Developed correctly, the roadmap describes to your entire team the problems the product will solve, why and for whom you’re solving them, the prioritized order in which the product’s releases will be developed to address those problems, and how they’ll be addressed.
After the roadmap has been defined, developed and agreed upon, it’s up to you, the product manager, to stay apprised of and document all shifting marketplace trends and incoming customer change-requests to ensure continued stakeholder alignment.
If developing the roadmap is half the battle, effectively managing and rationalizing the roadmap defines the other half.
Managed ineffectively, it’s easy for one set of stakeholders—such as Sales, Service and Support, Marketing, or even the customer—to assert disproportionate influence during the product development process. This group could upset your roadmap’s balance. If you’re like most PMs, you’ve encountered one of the following scenarios, at least once:
The Sales team which, being rightfully focused on landing more business, sees a promising opportunity to capture additional revenue. But to capitalize on the opportunity, the product needs functionality that’s not slated in the roadmap’s current requirements.
The Service and Support team, seeking to expand revenue from existing customer accounts raising concern about product implementation? In such a scenario, the team will be too narrowly focused on delivering customer-specific iterations that aren’t in step with the product’s broader long-term value.
Marketing, so intent on maintaining your company’s standing as an innovative thought leader, attempts to skew the roadmap toward delivering new, innovative features more rapidly, with little regard for quality or whether the features address the broader market or users’ requirements.
As a product manager, you want all these stakeholders to have seats at the table, without any one group having more influence than another. You need to weigh the relative value and impact motives of all sets of stakeholder inputs and find a way to balance their often-competing interests.
What’s more, after your development team commits to scope and schedule, it’s your crucial responsibility to track the activities of the team’s UX designers, developers and QA testers, minimize churn and ensure continuous alignment during the varying stages of definition, design and validation. What you need is a way to connect and align every stakeholder, every product delivery team member and your organization’s top priorities, every step of the way.
Successfully managing your roadmap requires process transparency and unambiguous communication. If priorities shift—and particularly if they don’t—everyone benefits from robust collaboration that provides all participants with complete, real-time, contextual visibility into how the roadmap adheres to broader business, customer and user goals.
A specialized product delivery platform with innovative collaboration tools at the core of its DNA can serve as a comprehensive system of engagement; a hub where every product- related conversation is clearly and logically associated with the relevant requirements, and where everyone can see the work of the teams of designers, engineers and testers.
Collaboration at your fingertips promotes team wide ownership of the entire product development process and allows stakeholders to provide feedback, solicit reviews and approvals, and discuss in real- time their work in progress. When challenges and conflicts arise, you can more easily overcome them and maintain your “deliver faster” ethos.
Read part 2: Embracing Change to Accelerate Product Innovation and Delivery and part 3: Maintaining Consistent Organization-wide Alignment Despite Rapidly Shifting Requirements of this series of posts. Download the full whitepaper, Top Three Frustrations of Product Managers & Tips to Avoid Them, and get more resources for product delivery.