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Product Roadmaps

Roadmap iconProduct roadmaps are a critical part of any product strategy, and a central tool of every product manager. Roadmaps bridge the gap between multi-year strategic plans and release/iteration planning. Thoughtful, consensus-built, up-to-date roadmaps keep product teams from wandering and deliver on company strategies much more quickly. Agile roadmaps are an underpinning of Business Agility. They provide the framework for deciding when plans should change, what impact potential changes will have on related products/releases/objectives, and act as a collaborative tool for communicating the plan of record.

Understanding Product Roadmaps

Product managers do not create successful software products by reacting to every competitive thrust, customer complaint or marketer’s /developer’s suggestion. After ascertaining the fundamental needs of their customers, product managers must get the commercial side (market, sales, market research, etc.) and technical side (engineering, maintenance, etc.) of the house to work off the same page. By this, we mean a shared and deep understanding of market segments, features and benefits, timelines for rolling out features/benefits by market segments, market events, and an architecture that allows the product to be enhanced according to plan. The best roadmaps are constructed by a cross-functional core team, meeting in person for at least a day of uninterrupted collaboration.We call this common “page” an agile product roadmap. It addresses four key issues in the success of a software product throughout its commercial life:

Markets: We help you create a market map that lists your target markets and determines the order in which you create offers for them (the bundle of products and services that provide value to them).

Features and benefits: This shows the key product features you need for each market segment and their specific benefits. Features may be a benefit to more than one market segment. However, they may not provide the same perceived benefits to those segments. Developers need to understand the intent and nature of future features and benefits so they can make sure the architecture will support them.

Events and rhythms: Events refer to the things that are happening in the business lives of your customers that you can and must anticipate. For example, most retailers don’t accept software releases during the holiday selling season. Rhythms refer to the cycles that customers, developers, sales people and others like to see in software releases. For example, customers can’t absorb new releases quickly but they get concerned when releases happen too slowly. And your salespeople need long lead times to prepare for new releases.

Architecture: Your software must be architected in a way that allows you to deliver the right features and benefits to each customer segment in the timeline that they need them. We help you identify essential features for each customer segment and make sure your architecture will allow them.

Good product-level roadmaps also provide the basis for scenario planning and “roadmaps of roadmaps.”

Engagement Model and Deliverables

Developing a roadmap is a highly collaborative process. A typical engagement brings together key contributors [product management, engineering/architects, marketing, professional services] to create the initial roadmap for a product, and includes a quarterly re-assembly of the team for updates and review. Many Enthiosys customers have expanded this into a “roadmap of roadmaps” to manage portfolio-level planning and complexity. We customize a five-step process for each roadmapping engagement:

 

  1. Review your business and product-level goals and objectives, business plans, existing roadmaps and other documentation
  2. Facilitate the development of a draft product roadmap (typically starting with one product team)
  3. Assign tasks and set deadlines for gathering information
  4. Facilitate the development of a final roadmap
  5. Guide the publication, review and communication plan for the roadmap

 

Enthiosys’ agile roadmap service helps you get all sides of your house on the same page. We help you plan when to deliver the right releases with the right features and benefits at the right time to the right customer segments. We make sure you design or adjust your product architecture so that you can meet the upcoming demands of your customers in a timely and profitable manner and stay ahead of your competition’s products.

Webinars and Templates

We promote good roadmapping from a lot of podiums. See two recent webinars:

Scott Gilbert and Borland’s Jeff Brantley on “Agile Roadmapping” and Jason Tanner on “Building your Agile Roadmap.”

Or download some of our templates as a starting point