Seeing a product hit the market and into customers' hands is the most rewarding part of being a product manager. Knowing that your oversight, keen decision-making, and complex work result in products that improve people's lives makes the heavy workloads and stressful weeks worthwhile. But not all product releases go as planned, especially if there is no strategic vision and plan in place. The only sure way to have a product launch to the world on time is to use a product roadmap.
Your roadmap includes high-level detail from the product's design to the building of the product to the testing and launching of that product to market. A well-laid-out roadmap with intentional milestones is only the beginning. Here are seven tips to help you keep your product release timeline on track so you can release or launch your product with success.
Define and Get Clarity on What Your Customer Needs
Clarity comes from taking action and researching your products' target market needs and wants. And without clarity, it's impossible to have a vision and set goals, let alone update your roadmap to reach them. Working with your teams can help you gain insight into what is possible in creating new versions of existing products or something unique. Your customer management team, engineering team, and design team will be invaluable resources for helping paint a picture of what is possible. But your metrics and data on how your existing products perform will also help inform your decision when defining the next release.
The easiest way to communicate with your teams is to use a tool that makes collaboration easy and quick, no matter where they are located. Communication management tools are great, but with software such as Gocious, you can streamline your team communication and collaboration within the roadmap overview, so everyone is on the same page in the same place, rather than switching back and forth between multiple apps.
Know Your Competition and Your Company's Position
An essential part of your product research includes knowing where your product sits amongst the sea of competition. Industry and market will have their own metrics to measure. For example, in the EV industry, a compact car with charging efficiency will perform better. In contrast, on the North American market, a powerful truck with a higher EPA combined driving range will perform better. Knowing your market needs and values is vital to making profitable product development decisions.
Create a Long-Term Product Roadmap
Complex products requiring many moving parts and global manufacturing need long-term roadmaps spanning three or more years. Unless you're creating a digital product where the production happens in a matter of months, you need a long-term product roadmap. Using a high-level product roadmap, product managers can bring together cross-functional teams to assess product dependencies and ensure that products are launched in the right sequence. They can also use product roadmap software to coordinate with managers of other products to leverage common components where it makes sense to control costs and increase efficiency.
Product managers can also use long-term roadmaps to show how the company can meet their financial and overall business goals while identifying any discrepancies and soliciting ideas to close those gaps.
Carefully Track the Metrics and Key Performance Indicators
Product roadmapping is beneficial in many ways. It gives you, the manager, an overview of the process so you can see what comes next on the timeline, which phases are dependent on others, and the relevant data for each stage of production. Having accurate data makes the process more efficient.
Setting and tracking custom KPIs helps product managers spot gaps and opportunities across product lines more efficiently. With Gocious, product managers can focus on a specific product to find detailed metrics by market or use the powerful dashboard tool to get a high-level overview of all product lines. The best part is you get to set the metrics you track so you can gain clarity instantly and ignore the noise, giving you greater transparency into the performance of your products.
Set Expectations and Understanding Across Departments
Once a roadmap is set, it's essential to foster inter-departmental collaboration. When your teams work in isolated environments, communication can be difficult. However, the very nature of complex products is that each production segment interacts and influences the surrounding milestones.
Setting clear expectations across your departments will help everyone understand the goals from the beginning.
Let's use the automotive industry as an example again. Suppose there is a delay in producing the computer chip vital to the truck's operating system. The rest of the teams need to know to react and adjust their plans accordingly. It would be an identical scenario if the factory that produces the windshields was delayed. The finishing touches of connecting sun sensors would not be able to integrate until the glass windshield is delivered and installed.
Hopefully, no disruptions happen in manufacturing your product; however, plans rarely execute without flaws. Setting clear expectations across your departments will help everyone understand the goals from the beginning. Software that allows all your teams to seamlessly connect and share updates, such as Gocious, creates efficient teamwork and communication.
Managing the established milestones on your roadmap is one of the primary tasks of the product manager. This is where you need to have the proper support in place so you can do your job efficiently with minimal stress.
Product Roadmapping Management software that keeps you connected to your teams, displays the relevant data, and provides a powerful overview of your product lines destined for each of your markets, helps empower product managers around the globe. No more guesswork and no more decisions based on assumptions. You can find the data you need to inform your every decision to keep milestones on track without missing a thing.
Make Decisions and Enforce the Release Date
In a perfect world, every milestone is achieved on time without any issues. A well-managed roadmap with little to no delays in the supply chain will result in release dates that launch on time. However, there will be occasions where things beyond your control happen, such as a global pandemic or a shortage of material. In these scenarios, the product manager needs to make informed decisions on how to deliver the best product possible to the consumer on time.
Helping Product Managers Establish Product Launch Timelines
We design the Gocious software to empower product managers to effectively and efficiently manage their product lines with powerful tools that support your roadmap. When all the pieces fall into the right places, driving the roadmap and successfully releasing products can feel like a well-oiled machine. Book your free demo with our team today if you'd like to see how Gocious can make a difference for your company.