A Product Roadmap is a valuable artifact that outlines a company’s direction, product vision, priorities, and product development progress. A roadmap is a blueprint for how a team will achieve short and long-term product development goals. In this article, we will consider why creating an MVP product roadmap is important for a project and how often it’s reasonable to update the roadmap.
Why does a product need a separate roadmap and what is its purpose?
The product is the absolute result of the work of the entire team. In an ideal world, this is the final destination of all the efforts and resources of the company. The product is the moment of truth because only the product has a perceived value in the eyes of the buyer that he will pay for.
Best of all, when this value far exceeds the resources spent. In this case, the business will continue to grow, and the team will understand that all the efforts made earlier were correct.
How can you use a product roadmap?
To apply the roadmap for practical purposes, it is especially important to pay attention to two stages:
- research/development of the map and finding a good way (the process of creating the road map itself);
- direct use of the road map as a guideline when moving towards the goal.
The effect of both stages will bring many benefits to the team and the company, regardless of the field of activity.
Developing a roadmap and determining the right path to a goal is a special art. You need to understand what will be displayed on the roadmap and what will not, and determine the level of detail (scale of the roadmap, planning period, etc.)
Typically, at different stages, your roadmap:
- allows you to describe how the team is going to achieve its goal;
- explains what a goal is;
- can be a conditional document that allows taking into account the interests of all stakeholders;
- can be used as an answer to the client’s question: “When will you do this?”.
How to define the goal of a good product roadmap?
Goals need to be set precisely, which is quite difficult. There are many stories when poorly formulated goals could lead to the death of a business.
Why is it difficult to set goals? The problem of precise causality, prioritization, and choice makes this process difficult. Compromise language harms good goals. They are confusing and the team interprets them differently. All this leads to the fact that the goals are not met.
As an example, consider the most typical goal for a young team: “launch a new product.”
It is unlikely that the ultimate goal of the team is the product itself. They want it to be needed and used by people. To achieve this goal, you need to “launch the product”. Thus, the “product” has become a tool to achieve the goal, but what is the true goal?
The point is that launching a product is a very abstract goal. It is often impossible to understand how this is related to the commercial result. The business result is the result of well-defined factors such as good sales revenue and cost levels. And if we want to articulate the goal precisely, we need to specify the commercial outcome factors that will be affected by the launch of the product.
What exactly will lead to commercial success?
Let’s look at the factors that have a direct impact on the commercial success of a product and can easily be reformulated into a precise goal:
- The ability of the product to solve user problems
- Growth in the number of users who are aware of the product’s capabilities
- High user activity when using the product (for example, activity in the application)
Based on this logic, we can argue that the goal is to increase user activity in the application. Such a goal sounds more specific and it looks like it can affect commercial success.
How to evaluate the quality of a roadmap?
To understand how often you need to make changes to the roadmap, you should figure out how to evaluate the quality of the roadmap.
1. Define goals and milestones along the way:
To start creating a product roadmap, formulate your vision for the product and describe the actual commercial situation (you can use SWOT and a KANO diagram for this).
A good product roadmap is usually developed over several quarters or months. It is almost pointless to develop a roadmap for a year, as the world is changing too quickly.
2. Define the problems to be solved
The difference between the desired state and the current state can be determined based on problems. Identify the issues and the solution of which will have the greatest impact on the product’s business goals.
3. Discussing and testing goals against stakeholder expectations
The product must solve the client’s problems, be interesting for investment, and have a clear and understandable development strategy. Roadmap approval should be a regular and ongoing event. It should start from the early days of roadmapping and strategic planning.
4. Formalize objectives: define indicators of success and values for all goals and activities
The language of numbers is the universal language of business. By following a good roadmap, the team will know exactly if everything is going according to plan and if the goals have been achieved. This requires KPIs – clear and precise criteria for success. KPIs answer the question: was the goal achieved / were your actions successful?
When do you need to update the MVP roadmap?
The roadmap is usually updated every few weeks or quarterly. It is worth updating the roadmap when there is a change in goals or the team reaches important milestones in the creation of the product, and not when it is necessary to make minor adjustments to daily work.
Developing a good product roadmap is not easy. It should be clear from the very beginning of trying to define the main goal. If you need help developing an MVP, it’s best to contact professionals, such as Gearheart. The company has vast experience in planning and creating MVPs for different companies before launching to the market.