One of the biggest lessons that product managers learn is that their roadmaps are not set in stone. You can create a product roadmap with the relevant phases and plans, set the milestone timelines, and share access with all stakeholders. However, roadmaps still require continuous management and regular updates. These updates must also be shared with the relevant teams working on each product to inform everyone of the product strategy and prevent operational silos.
But how often should product managers assess and update the roadmaps? The answer depends on a variety of issues, including the types of product roadmaps, the stakeholders involved, and the nature of your market. There are also a series of triggers that may prompt an assessment and update to the roadmap at any time. We’ll cover all of these examples, schedules, and triggers.
Regular Scheduled Roadmap Updates
In product development, at minimum, roadmaps need to be updated every quarter. If your product teams are meeting less frequently than quarterly, you’re missing out on crucial opportunities to refine and improve your products. Some companies will schedule more frequent meetings, depending on the type of roadmap and the accountability structure of the company.
Here are a few examples of variables that will determine the frequency of your roadmap updates.
Introduction of New Features and Products
How frequently you introduce new features or new products will impact how often you need to update and adjust your roadmap. As a newer company with few updates and a small number of products, you’re likely not adjusting your roadmap as often as a large company with multiple product lines and features phasing in and out on a yearly basis.
The number of dependencies your product has will also determine how often you update your roadmap. When your teams depend on each other and cannot work on their component independently, they will need to meet more frequently. Different teams need updates on whether there is a change in alignment and a need to update the roadmap. Keeping the plans transparent and everyone informed helps keep the product on track.
Which Market You Work In
Does your company create software? With the ability to design and launch updates on a relatively quick timeline, software product teams may meet on a biweekly or monthly timeline to ensure they are optimizing the features of their product and meeting customers' demands before the competition does.
Is your industry not in the digital market? Companies with hardware or physical products might opt to have less frequent product meetings and roadmap updates based on the longer lead times of that product. One thing for sure is that to achieve business goals, companies still need to meet on a regular basis. These routine meetings keep everyone on track, allow for discussion on how to solve issues and provide information to update the roadmap with.
The Maturity of Your Product
Is your product well-established on the market? Do customers love it and know what to expect from it? More mature products may not need to meet as frequently to update their product because they already enjoy a large share of the market. Companies that are newer may schedule more frequent reviews to fine-tune their product to wow more customers and find their footing in the market.
How Often You Meet With Stakeholders
Meetings with stakeholders will also spur product roadmap discussion before and after. You’ll want to present up-to-date information to investors and stakeholders and update the roadmap with any feedback or ideas that result from those meetings.
Triggers for Assessing Your Roadmap
A product management team will set regular intervals for reviewing and assessing their roadmaps, but there may be certain triggers that will call for an assessment sooner. These triggers may include the following:
Whenever your company shifts its strategy or goals, you’ll need to assess, evaluate, and update your roadmaps to ensure they align with these changes. Does the product plan still support the company’s vision? If not, can there be adjustments made to ensure it does? What other product changes can be introduced to support the new goals?
Shifts in the Market
Has the market shifted significantly, which will affect the performance of a particular product? Are there certain key performance indicators (KPIs) that are under-performing? You may need to make trade-off decisions to improve a product. These types of decisions are best made as soon as possible rather than pushed to the next quarterly review.
Major Changes in Resource Availability or Supply Chains
There are many reasons why a resource may suddenly be in short supply, or a supply chain gets disrupted. While many of these scenarios are unpredictable and beyond the control of your company, these incidents will affect your product roadmaps. The cost of a certain component or material may go up, causing profits to go down triggering an evaluation of whether to find a new supplier. These decisions won’t be made in isolation but will need the roadmap to reflect them.
Evolving Customer Needs
Products are designed to thrill customers, and when customer needs shift and evolve, the roadmap needs to follow. Maybe consumer demand has significantly shifted away or towards a certain material or feature. Or maybe product testing has revealed the need for changes. Either scenario will promote a need to update the roadmap. Waiting for a scheduled review can result in lost opportunity and time to pull ahead of competitors.
Updating Your Roadmap Doesn’t Need to Be Difficult
Keeping your product teams up-to-date is essential, which is why your roadmaps need to contain the latest information. Your data needs to reflect reality in between big review meetings to ensure nothing major in your product plans is overlooked. When you’re using multiple pieces of software or complex systems to manage your products and their roadmaps, you might be tempted to leave updates to once a quarter rather than as needed, but with the right tools, updating and managing the roadmap can be simple and straightforward.
Choosing the Right Tools for Product Roadmap Management
Building a roadmap and leaving it is not enough. Product managers must continuously watch and analyze the roadmap for opportunities and issues. The right tools can make oversight, analysis, and chances to your product roadmaps easier. Clear and clean visualizations help you update and see the essential information, whether you’re looking at a high-level overview or zooming in on a specific product.
A cloud-based product roadmap management software then lets you make changes wherever and whenever you need to while keeping the information accessible to everyone who needs the information. Keeping information available to your cross-functional teams helps reduce opportunities for miscommunication.
Creating a Mindset for Success in Product Roadmap Planning
Having a clear cadence for roadmap reviews with different levels of stakeholders (product teams, executives, etc.) ensures that your product is evolving in accordance with market needs. It also reduces time to market by eliminating surprises. Product managers must ensure they have the mindset for success to make the most out of their product roadmap planning. Changes must be seen as opportunities to improve rather than a burden or a dreaded task.
When product managers and their product team members adjust their mindset, they open up many possibilities to improve their product vision and can better work towards the company’s long-term goals.
Gocious Product Roadmap Management Software is a cloud-based software that features easy-to-use powerful roadmapping tools with clear visualizations your whole team can understand. Try it out with a free demo to see how Gocious can work for your portfolio.