Very few products stay the same year to year, let alone decade to decade. The components, materials, and designs change and evolve. Sometimes, this is due to consumer demand or innovation; other times, it results from resource shortages or supply changes. When a product team knows in advance that a certain component will no longer be available, this is called phasing out.
On the contrary, when a new component is introduced to replace an old one, this is called phasing in. It may seem like a straightforward exchange of parts, but with complex product roadmaps that span several months and years and multiple product lines, managing the phasing in and out of parts requires planning and communication.
Communication Requires Visibility and Transparency
Planning, designing, and building products relies on communication between teams involved in the process. Cross-functional meetings and communication lines are what keep complex products moving forward. A key tool to manage this communication is the product roadmap.
The Purpose of Your Product Roadmap
Your product roadmap serves as your company's guide to your products. When you create a product roadmap, you want to include details, such as which components are shared between different products, what are the milestones in the development process, when is the launch date, along with key metrics to track, such as profit margin, cost, and more.
Using product roadmap management software makes your roadmaps accessible to all stakeholders to check in with timelines performance and provide updates that may impact the roadmap.
Interacting With the Roadmap
The visibility and transparency piece comes with who has access to the roadmap and how. When using tools in your roadmapping process, you need software that is cloud-based and secure, so all your relevant internal teams have access to the same high-level information.
Keeping data on product components or goals keeps some people in the dark, and some people informed, which leads to miscommunication and a risk of problems in regards to phasing in and out of components.
How to Plot the Phasing In and Out of Parts on a Roadmap
When you build a product roadmap that lists the common components between products in the product line, you can clearly see the overlaps. Let's use a laptop company as an example here. When the engineering team announces the date a new, longer-lasting battery will be ready to put into the products (the laptops), product managers can plot that milestone on the roadmap. From there, they can adjust all the models in the product line that will get this new battery.
Some models may use it before others, creating a gradual phase-in of the new batter while phasing out the old one. In some cases, a company may want to keep both batteries on the market to see if customers are willing to pay more for a longer battery or if they prefer the old model at an affordable price.
The Importance of Communication Via the Roadmap
Customers hate it when they fall in love with a product, only to discover one day that the model they loved is no longer available. For customers, this can happen without warning, as companies are not obligated to inform customers of their internal product plans. They'll likely advertise when a new feature is coming but won't announce when an old feature is phasing out.
With product teams, everyone needs to be informed of which parts are phasing in and out. Product managers, especially, cannot be caught by surprise when a certain component is no longer available and impacts the rest of the design. Such a mistake can be costly for any company.
The Opportunities and Risks Created by New Components
When the timeline for phasing in a new component is plotted on the roadmap, it creates opportunities to improve a wider range of products. Teams working on other models can keep an open mind and see opportunities to improve their models, using the new component arriving. If multiple products want to phase in the new part, advanced planning can make it happen and lead to improvements across the product line, not just one individual product.
Not communicating the phasing in and out of features can be risky, especially if your product teams don’t have a comprehensive strategy to replace shared components. You might find only a handful of products in your portfolio are left using a component that is costly to produce while the majority of your portfolio has updated to a better option. Tracking and sharing information across your teams regarding phasing in and out of components can save you money and create better products.
How Does this Apply to Hybrid Approach Teams?
Software and hardware teams work on different timelines due to the nature of their projects, which is why manufacturers use the hybrid product approach to manage the integration of both hardware and software components. Products that are this complex heavily rely on effective and timely communication.
An example of effectively managing the phasing in of an important component may look like this:
- The software team is planning an upgrade to their product that requires new support from the hardware.
- The phasing-in requirements are communicated to the hardware team, and their timeline is set.
- Both teams know when their portion of the product will be ready to accommodate the other because it is on the roadmap.
- Product managers know when the older model will phase out, and the new model will phase in because it is on the roadmap.
Mistakes to Avoid in Planning
Failing to plan and communicate a phase in or out of a component can lead to serious problems for your company. Here are some common mistakes to avoid.
Not Updating the Roadmap
Poor communication leads to mistakes, overlapping of work, and products that are not ready on time for their scheduled launches. For complex products involving hardware and software, this can be a costly and serious mistake. While updating your roadmaps can feel tedious or complicated, it's essential to keep your process on track to meet your OKRs and product goals.
Not sharing the availability of a new component can result in missed opportunities in other models. Letting all product teams know when a new feature is coming allows them to analyze their products and make improvements by requesting the use of the new feature in their models, too. Missing these opportunities can lead to losing a share in the market by not keeping up with the competition or missing out on increasing the company's profits.
Your product teams will be confused if a certain component is suddenly no longer available, and they have no warning. Confusion over component availability will lead to delays, potential shortages, and impact your company's bottom line. In the long run, taking the time to communicate and check in with stakeholders and product teams is always worth the inconvenience or perceived headache of the moment.
Product Roadmap Management Software to Improve Phasing In and Out of Components
Here at Gocious, our mission is to provide product managers with software that helps them create great products. Book a live demo to see how our software makes the phasing in and out planning process simpler.