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Itamar Gilad used to follow a planning method that went from strategy to roadmaps to project plans to execution in a decidedly one-way direction. He found that his approach resulted in roadmaps that were out of date as soon as they were published and did not respond to change very well. He describes a different approach to planning called GIST that uses Goals, Ideas, Sub-Projects, and Tasks. This approach gets rid of product roadmaps as you know them and allows you to address different planning horizons and frequency of change. (via @ItamarGilad)
You’ve probably seen, and perhaps even created a 12-month product roadmap that is really just a random list of features assigned to some arbitrary dates. You probably also realize that these can be a train-wreck, but they raise a dilemma. How do you manage a product development schedule that is appropriately short-term focused, experimentation-based, and tuned to validate assumptions via testing, with a need to show a long-term view over where you think the product and market are headed? Cody Simms take a look at the current form of product roadmaps that don’t really work, and what to do about them. (via @codysimms)
“Your team deserves a roadmap that clearly paints the big picture, but doesn’t neglect realities.” You’d also like your team to be motivated and excited about the work they’re going to do in the next month or two, and beyond. Martin Suntinger provides these 10 tips to get buy-in from your team for your product backlog that will help make that happen. (via @msuntinger)
“Building and managing a product roadmap is not a one-two step process — it requires market analysis, feature prioritization, strategic alignment — plus ongoing maintenance.” Roadmunk put this product roadmap hub together to help you bring your product vision to fruition. (via @RoadmunkApp)
A product roadmap allows you and your team to communicate the direction, vision, and priorities of your product. You’d like to think that putting together a document that tells your organization what’s next for a product would be easy. If you’re like most other product managers you’ve probably found that’s not the case. Richard Holmes provides this essential guide to product roadmaps to help you provide your organization with a clearer idea of what’s up next for your product. (via @richholmes84 @Deptofproduct)
A product roadmap is not just a chronological list of things that your team needs to do. According to Paul Adams at Intercom, it actually consists of a range of new work that needs to be prioritized according to data, user conversations, and intuition of the company.
There’s nothing like a competitor announcing a ground-breaking new product to scupper your own product roadmap. With executives getting antsy, it’s easy to be distracted and possibly even pushed in directions where you had no intention of going. Mike Belsito believes there are ways to keep on track and to maintain ownership of your roadmap by better knowing your customer and how you are positioned in relation to them. By being confident of your competitive advantage you’ll be less likely to make knee-jerk reactions and instead hold a steady course.
We know that there’s power in data. It’s our greatest weapon against random subjectivity from multiple stakeholders in a project. But where do you get this data? Michael Peach describes several places from where data can be sourced, including iterative experiments, user behavior, and business goals.
Another question is whether it is wise or not to publish your roadmap publicly. Or even if you should talk specifically with your customers about items that your team is intending to work on. Colin Rand warns you not to do that. If you are late in delivering it’s going to be a disappointment for your customer. But there is a worse outcome — your solution will be underwhelming compared to the one your customer daydreamed about — the best possible solution for their situation.
Andrea Saez agrees with Roman (and many others by the way) that roadmaps should be theme-based. Along with giving you a look at what their roadmap looks like, Andrea underlines how a roadmap should be easy to consume and be able to communicate high-level priorities to everyone from the CEO to intern.