5 Ways to Keep Your Product Roadmaps Flexible Yet Focused

Posted by Maziar Adl
Maziar Adl
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Illustration: Task managementTraditionally, your product managers have spent large portions of their workweek checking in with each product team and their progress. They've struggled to update spreadsheets, create presentations, and share only the latest versions with you, the executive. 

What if there was another way your product managers could keep their roadmaps focused on the company goals yet flexible enough to adapt to changes along the way? And what if they could do this with complete transparency? The answer is by using product roadmap management (PRM) software and the following five strategies:

  • Focusing on alignment
  • Communicating with transparency
  • Embracing Agile principles
  • Strategically prioritizing features
  • Holding regular product review meetings


1. Focus on Alignment Using the Product Roadmap

Illustration: product team leaderProduct roadmaps are meant to be flexible to adapt to a range of changing conditions, from market demands to consumer expectations to internal decisions. As the central source of truth for your product stakeholders, keeping your roadmaps updated helps everyone stay aligned, even when adjustments need to happen. 

Rather than overloading your roadmap with minute details, your product management teams will be more effective when they maintain a high-level overview and leave the nitty-gritty details to each development team. The product roadmap should display the most relevant KPIs that track the product's contribution toward company goals. 

When product managers have this essential information, they can make decisions easier and provide clear updates to their executives. This approach to roadmapping focuses on alignment and transparency across your product development and product management teams. 


2. Use the Product Roadmap to Communicate with Transparency

Illustration: Path to targetEffective communication requires transparency. Without it, product meetings will drag on, veer off-topic, and potentially lead to confusion, especially when the attendees are all working from separate or outdated information. Many pieces of the product puzzle are continuously shifting and changing, so your product teams need a way to stay on the same page for effective collaboration. 

When it comes to managing product roadmaps, alignment and transparency are vital. One way to increase transparency in your organization is by investing in tools that facilitate communication, real-time information sharing, and cross-functional collaborations. An effective communication tool is product roadmap management software. When you can share the same real-time information as your product managers, see clear visuals of product status, and get answers to your questions on metrics, you'll save countless hours of back-and-forth emails and sifting through various file versions. 


3. Embrace Agile Principles in Product Development

Illustration: Choose PathThe best way to keep product plans flexible without losing focus is to embrace Agile principles for product development. Flexibility is a key tenant of Agile, but it doesn't mean abandoning the roadmap. Instead, Agile encourages flexible lead times and product definitions, especially in the early stages, allowing room to change and improve the product before the launch to keep pace with market demands and the competition. 

Agile methodologies, by nature, encourage flexibility in product development, and the roadmap is where your product teams can track this flexibility. Rather than setting a rigid product plan, product managers can consult and refresh the roadmap as often as necessary, such as when a new feature is announced, a dependency is introduced, the market shifts, or in response to a stakeholder meeting. 

Depending on the scale and complexity of your products, you might not be able to have all teams working in Agile. For example, products with hardware and software components will have teams working on very different timelines. At some point, however, they will need to align their processes. A flexible yet focused roadmap can sync the cadences of the hardware and software teams to ensure the final product stays on track for the launch period while keeping everyone informed on progress. 


4. Strategically Prioritize Features Using Product Roadmap Management Software

Illustration: human and aiIn ever-evolving markets, the concept of defining a product at the start of development and never wavering from that scope is no longer a viable option. Even complex products that require a long lead time to make the physical components need to leave room for adjustments and customizations in the software and digital components. One strategy to facilitate product improvements at any stage of the product lifespan is to manage ideas and features effectively.

Product managers need to have a process for collecting new ideas and scoring those ideas based on customer value, business value, and other metrics such as cost and time. This process doesn't need to add stress to their workload, nor does it need to be complicated. With product roadmap management software by Gocious, product managers can collect feature ideas in the same system where they're already managing their product portfolios. 

Here at Gocious, our development team works hard to create new tools that make it easier for your product managers to excel in their work. Our most recent feature release allows your product managers to store product ideas in a list and automatically assign a score based on your company's preferred scoring formula. This new capability can save your product manager hours of sorting through suggestions and tracking down the details needed to evaluate a score. Instead, all they need to do is enter the metrics, and the score is generated automatically. From there, they can drag and drop ideas into a priority order based on the score and the product vision. 


5. Hold Regular Product Roadmap Reviews

Illustration: teamworkThe product development process starts with an idea, which then moves to the roadmap. But just because your product managers create a product roadmap doesn't mean they don't require input along the way. Successful product plans happen when product managers hold regular review meetings to determine what works and where opportunities can be captured. 

Effective product reviews help keep your products competitive by opening up discussions, consulting different voices, and making room in the roadmap for adjustments. Sticking to product goals sometimes requires a product to change. For example, if your competition releases an innovative feature that dramatically changes customer demand, your product definition will need revising where possible. Another example might be a sudden change in industry regulations that mandate an adjustment in your product scope. 

Product review meetings are the place to discuss any changes required to keep your product on target for your goals. After a product review meeting takes place, the roadmap will require updates. When you use product roadmap management software, you can make transparent changes that everyone can see, keeping all stakeholders in alignment on the new decisions. 


Product Roadmap Management Software: 

Increase Alignment & Transparency 

See how Gocious product roadmapping software can increase transparency and alignment across your product teams. Schedule your free demo with our product team to see first-hand how roadmap software can benefit your company. 

Topics: Product Roadmap

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