Before signing off into my – pandemically constrained – vacation, the last thing I discussed late last Friday with a client, was how to best create a roadmap for his department’s internal product: How far into the future should it display features and what level of detail would it best provide?
When I started in Apple’s Product Marketing three decades ago, roadmaps were simple: linear depictions of which product was planned to ship when (and for how long). Plus a short description of the feature set to be expected from every upcoming product. From some point further in the future on, the rectangles surrounding the product code names became dashed, signifying „investigations“, product ideas that were not yet agreed and fully specified.
These roadmaps‘ purpose was threefold:
– to inform stakeholders (production, sales, marketing, key customers, …)
– to provide a basis for planning (production forecasting, marketing planning, pricing, …)
– to gather feedback about new product ideas
(Those days the latter was often successfully achieved by way of leaking details to „MacWeek’s“ rumour columnist „Mac the Knife“.)
While a roadmap’s purposes have not changed over the decades, with „software eating the world“ its contents have dramatically evolved.
Software is a very flexible means to solve stakeholder problems and pursue business goals – ideally both at the same time. Over the past decades we have learned that in order to achieve this, iteratively working our way forward (aka Agile) leads to better results than planning extensively.
As a consequence there is an increasing agreement among product practitioners to not set forth detailed feature lists in roadmaps, but rather a sequence of goals and the corresponding problems to be solved in pursuit of maximum stakeholder- and business value.
The following three articles provide some deeper insights:
10 TIPS FOR CREATING AN AGILE PRODUCT ROADMAP –
by Roman Pichler provides a solid introduction into agile roadmapping.
Click to view!
What does an agile product roadmap look like? –
Jeff Gothelf rationalizes why it is important to focus roadmaps on outcomes rather than features.
Click to view!
This week Roman Pichler has also weighed in on the “product goals” introduced in the recently updated Scrum Guide and shows how they might be used to shape a roadmap (kind of dovetails with a post I wrote for gtmhub’s blog a while ago).
Have a great weekend!