A product roadmap is an integrated solution that connects all aspects of product development. From ideation planning and product development to the successful release of the product, everything is contingent upon aligning the activities to the strategic framework of the roadmap. The most effective roadmaps also align with the overarching goals of the company.
As the product manager, your task is to manage all of these aspects down to the smallest detail. Let's discuss the five critical components of solid product roadmaps.
1. Share Your Vision
As an effective product manager, you must communicate the vision of the company to your product teams. This requires strong communication skills and the ability to present the information concisely. Product managers need to do the following:
- Outline the short and long-term goals of the company.
- Inform and update your stakeholders on new information in a timely manner.
- Promote cross-collaborative meetings between departments.
Alignment ensures everyone is on the same page and working toward the same goal. Preparing detailed presentations for your stakeholders that outline, where the company hopes to be five, ten, or even fifteen years from now, helps to keep everyone informed. Having everyone understand the vision means that they can work towards these goals.
2. Outline Your Strategy
Successful execution of the product plan requires a well-designed, detailed, strategic framework from which all stakeholders can refer to.
Some examples of essential information that will enable you to outline your strategy include the following:
- How will your company achieve the vision?
- Which markets will you compete in?
- What are the goals for all the products in your portfolio?
- Are your product offerings still relevant to the overall vision of the company?
- Is it more advantageous to update the features of an existing product or introduce a new line altogether?
- Are all stakeholders working in alignment with the product vision?
Regular meetings with teams and cross-collaboration between departments will help to strengthen relationships.
Unexpected challenges, such as supply chain disruptions, can often force you to adapt your strategic plan. Product managers can work closely with their project managers and make necessary adjustments to the product roadmap.
3. Define Your Product Line
Which product lines support your strategy the most? Your product features are the selling point for your product, and identifying which features are likely to have the most significant impact is critical. Comparing your products to find the best combination of features will help you develop better products.
Align With Your Customer Wants
While a single product has many different features, some will be more desirable to the consumer than others. What is it about your product that will prove more alluring than competitor products in the market? Having a clear understanding of what the customer wants will allow you to embed the voice of the customer within the strategic framework.
One example of this scenario could be the result of a customer success team finding that long battery life in a laptop was essential to customers. With that knowledge, producing a laptop with a long battery life would be an important strategic initiative. In contrast, having a product line that underperforms in this area could be detrimental to your success.
Compare and Contrast Products Within Your Portfolio
Another important aspect of managing a product portfolio is comparing and contrasting the products within each product line. You can compare and contrast your best-selling products by examining how adding a feature might affect production costs. You could also research how removing a feature might affect the performance in the market. Creating a "what-if" system to map out possible choices can help you make more informed product decisions.
From a product development focus, accurately defining what the desirable features are will allow your stakeholders to focus their energy on developing the features that are most likely to promote sales and align with the vision of the company.
4. Product Milestones and Customizable Metrics
Product milestones are vital pieces of the product roadmap as they indicate where in the development process the product is and when the predicted to release time will be. It's vital to set informed milestones that are realistic for stakeholders while meeting the demand for products from the company's senior management.
Product Performance Analysis
While setting performance milestones allows success to be measured after the product is launched, it also allows comparison between projected performance and actual performance. Understanding these metrics provides insight into how to improve milestone setting in future roadmaps.
Analyzing Your Competition
Knowing where your products stand against the competition is useful in planning future products. Setting up a process to compare your product performance to that of your competition can help you track and monitor opportunities to improve your market share.
When studying and analyzing the competition, there are two main questions to consider:
- Which aspect of your product offers a competitive advantage?
- Which features need to be added in order to better compete with other products?
Understanding the key features that differentiate your product is an essential part of your strategic plan when marketing your product.
5. Streamline Communications
Sharing documents and exchanging information with stakeholders using traditional methods of communication are known to be cumbersome. From isolated text documents and spreadsheets to email communications, using different applications to exchange information causes confusion.
Finding a tool designed for product management eliminates this problem by providing collaborative features where information and reports can be shared in one centralized location. We always recommend using a single source of truth to enable everyone on your product teams to see the same data and therefore stay on the same page, making discussion easier.
Product Roadmap Management Software
In today's complex world of manufacturing, Product Roadmap Management (PRM) Software is a vital tool for product managers, but not all tools are created equal. With Gocious, you can update your product strategy, product milestones, and analyze roadmaps in real-time. Book your free demo today to see how Gocious PRM Software can work for you and your team.