5 Best Practices for Creating an Effective Product Roadmap
A “Product Roadmap” is a commanding visual representation that maps out the vision and direction of your product running overtime. Roadmaps are the greatest advantage for any SaaS; they’re the only source of data for those who are all involved in product planning.
A product roadmap helps you find the answer to “why” and “what” product you’re building? A roadmap is a guiding strategic document of the plan for executing the product strategy.
Product roadmaps guide you to:
- Manage the development work within the firm
- Build the correct product which gives meaningful results
- Collaborate with other departments to get their concern and ideas on product plans
- Inform about the status to stakeholders and customers and keep them excited.
- A clear explanation of the vision and strategy of the product.
The product roadmap helps you only if you have a clear plan of execution. If you’re not sure about it, then the whole process becomes messy!
In this article, I will walk you through the best practices to build truly helpful product roadmaps. These tips will be helpful for both “internal” and “public” roadmaps.
Both “internal” and “public” refers to:
- Allocating a place to have a conversation over the product plans
- Providing a better way to contact managers for the roadmap approval
- Giving the entire firm a clear idea of the product roadmap and its stage
It’s easier when you use a product roadmap tool to build a great roadmap, but there are several ways to create a roadmap.
Product roadmaps give you very valuable results if done correctly, never let your efforts on setting up a roadmap fall.
5 product roadmap practices that will work:
#1 Update your roadmap constantly:
Keep updating your product roadmaps according to the economic changes constantly throughout the product life cycle. Clear off the pieces of information that you used already for the previous release so that you need not confuse it with the same information for your next release.
Perhaps, if you’re not keeping the roadmap updated, all your information is disorganized and finally messed up with one another and the roadmap becomes utterly useless at that point. Your product team doesn’t have an idea of what to do next, and other departments will be even more confused.
The out-of-date roadmap is completely useless to your stakeholders, investors, customers, and whoever is involved in the product life cycle.
They will completely lose information about what’s coming next. In the uttermost scenario, they will be tracked to the wrong path and start working on the wrong idea leading to disappointment and hard emotions at the end.
The rhythm of updating your roadmap depends on which phase your company and product are in. In previous times, there are two prominent ways to stay clear that your roadmap is always updated:
The product team should be aware of reviewing the roadmap recurrently, even if they don’t have any recent changes.
Weekly, monthly, for one quarterly whatever your schedule of reviewing maybe, but make sure you’re doing this. As long as you go through it regularly and check where it’s supposed to be or not; you’re good to go.
Update things to the roadmap with the sensible conclusion:
Don’t forget to document all the action items decided upon in meetings. Make sure you’re adding all those changes immediately after the meeting ends. The flow of adding any hard conclusions to your roadmap should come naturally.
Our mind will have no idea longer, we let things slip out of it. If you forget to add things it will cause unnecessary confusion when other departments or customers look at it.
Have a clear and recurrent practice to keep the roadmap updated, it always helps to avoid confusion and never let things fall through the cracks.
#2 Never overwhelm your roadmap by adding things that you’re not sure:
Creating a roadmap with information is fun! But you can overwhelm it by adding all the fluffs that you have in your mind. For PMs and developers, it is a pride to give customers a meaningful release and keeping them excited about their work for future releases.
However, when you add a lot of information in the roadmap at the beginning, and you can’t make it reality later, customers might think you are just giving fake promises on creating things. So, it is advisable to add things only that you can do in a fixed period.
Don’t add all the feature requests in your roadmap. However, you’re building products for the customers, don’t plan all the requests received in one release, instead, try to prioritize it for each quarterly phase. But, don’t forget to respond to each feature request.
Always remember that when you add things to the roadmap that will eventually create more excitement among people. Roadmap becomes meaningful only when the things added in it become reality.
Gaining customers’ trust is a very daunting process but if you make them feel their needs are not happening they will switch in a matter of seconds.
#3 Have a separate place for feedback:
Your product roadmap is built based on both customer feedback and requests, as well as your internal team members’ concerns about the feature.
However, you need not close off the feedback options once you’ve created the roadmap. Always have the feedback loop for overall product longevity. Because it helps you to find whether you’re building the right one.
But, especially in SaaS products, roadmaps are not a single time process where you can be free after setting it. There will be a change of plans in mind based on new information and feature requests. So, always be ready for it and never forget to prioritize all the requests.
Sometimes, roadmaps are not needed to be “super detailed”. This means those people aren’t directly involved with the planning/releases can have some ideas or questions. So, you might need to renovate your roadmap as an outcome for their ideas/questions.
It is always crucial to accomplish a better way to give feedback on your roadmap every time. Additional feedback and input ideas are always best for your product development and your roadmap will be able to adapt to the changes outside your product.
#4 Provide clear ownership details:
Mostly confusion occurs only when the internal product roadmaps are not sure about the ownership. It’s extremely crucial to make it very clear who’s in charge of any given item to clear the unwanted mess.
If people suffer from the issue or a question they don’t know whom to reach out to and clear. Everyone should know whom to reach out to. Otherwise, the general PM will be in trouble with bombarding with questions and problems they’ll have to reassign.
Positively, clear and transparent ownership within the roadmap will help people to easily contact directly the responsible member involved and appreciate the work they’re doing.
If you want to add even more clarity and fun, you can do something like Buffer’s our lovely choice of tool for social media scheduling! Scheduling the tasks will reduce confusion and direct communication.
#5 Try to keep the format default:
It’s not a big deal where you keep your product roadmap in Hellonext, Trello or somewhere else. Though, I’d probably recommend using a tool like Hellonext, which is specially designed for handling product roadmaps, which is built default into it. We also like Trello, but it was not designed for product road mapping.
Have a communication around the format of your roadmap and the entries in it. Everyone who has been permitted to change the roadmap should accept the common “way” to do it.
This is a quite consistent issue. Not enough consistency in the format of your roadmap entries can cause a lot of mess.
Because of being consistent, it is not necessary to add more information to the roadmap.
Relying on how your teams do their job, it can be an issue of either a shortage or more amount of information:
- A shortage of information leads to communication issues and information gaps
- An unnecessary amount of information leads to noise and confusion.
Whatever format you accept when it comes to updating things to the roadmap, it should always look similar and have an equal level of information.
Create your product roadmap with your constant work and thoughts:
It is not about how you’re utilizing your product roadmaps, whether it is internally or publicly, but making sure you bring up meaningful changes with it.
It beneficially helps you to keep work organized between the team in your firm, as well as let your customers keep excited about what’s next.
Product road mapping will help you to bridge the gap between organizing user feedback and execution. Your roadmap will begin with conversations about your product’s future and give context for the work you’re doing.
Managing your product roadmap adequately maintained, updated, and accessible. It will streamline your entire product planning process, and save you more hours.