Creating a product roadmap – Part 1
We’ve already gone over the general basic concept of what a product roadmap is and why you should consider using it to help plan your products/services. Unless you’re utterly satisfied with selling a single product (and not making any changes to it for as long as you’re in business), which is frowned against by business experts – you’ll need a way to help you decide how you should improve and evolve the product/service you offer.
If your product doesn’t evolve according to the market’s and your customer’s needs, it’s very likely you’ll end up losing the customers you already have to your competition. However, having a clear, defined path for moving forward will give you a way to anticipate your customer’s needs and figure out a way to define yourself as the best alternative for them. A way to find that path is creating a product roadmap, and here’s how you can do it.
How can I begin creating a product map?
Divide and conquer:
Being attentive to your customer’s feedback, their comments, and requests on your current product/service will likely give you a good starting point for figuring out the features you might want to add to it. You may even have already come up with a few ideas on your own, apart from those requests.
However, giving your product/service an extreme makeover to include all those amazing new features at once may not be the way to go – it may take you a long, long time to get everything done and actually seeing any change at all. So, the alternative is thinking about small, incremental changes for achieving gradual evolution.
For each product or service, you offer, you might want to choose one improvement at a time, dividing them into batches and releasing new versions more often. The way to do so, and to begin creating your product roadmap, is to take the long list of improvement ideas you want to implement and break it down so they’re as small as possible but still valuable enough to release on their own.
Prioritize and reorder:
Once your improvement ideas are all fractioned, you’ll have to determine how you’re gonna prioritize them: what will get done first, what will come after and so it goes. Which will be your criteria of choice for determining what’s most important for your business and what has to be done first.
Defining your priorities will depend mostly on your business’s situation, the availability of resources you have at hand, etc. There are, however, a few ways to go about as it comes to prioritizing, here are a few ideas on it:
- Start with what demands lower effort: If your business is in a situation you can confidently say you’ll have more resources available in the future, you may want to focus on what can be done faster and with the least effort now. Getting those “easy” improvements done and out there for your customers to see them will give you more credibility and the idea that you’re constantly moving forward;
- Start with changes you can test: If you’re not particularly sure about the impact a certain improvement will have once it’s out in the market, testing how valuable this change is certainly the way to go. Rolling out smaller, gradual changes, just enough to let you run tests is the safe way to go, especially if the results are not the expected, that way you’re able to return to a previous version if necessary;
- Go with the “The customer is always right” motto: If a large portion of your customers is asking for one or more changes, in particular, there’s a good way of defining where to start. Listening to the people actually paying for what you offer is always a good, and safe, way to go;
- Only spend what you have: When looking at the resources you have available and confronting your “to-do list” to it is also a safe way to approach changes. In business, as well as in real life, we never have enough time or money to do every single thing we’d like to so you’ll have to choose the improvements that feel more “doable” than others when considering your time and money availability.
You may want to take your time looking at all of these prioritizing possibilities and reordering your potential changes according to more than one criteria: that way you’ll be able to determine if any opportunities stand out or if any particular order seems more logical.
Once you’ve decided how you want to go about prioritizing your improvement ideas, now you’ll have to estimate how much time you think they’ll each take.
In this situation, you may want to consider the worst possible scenario: what’s important here is being realistic, it doesn’t matter whether you know exactly how you’ll proceed and how long it should take to do it – other than planning improvements, you’re running a business on the side and unexpected things always happen (obviously when you least expect them to).
Running a business means you’ll also be taking care of your existing customers and this is bound to, at the very least, slow down the pace of your improvements. Thinking about all the practical aspects may not look as good as you’d want, but fitting the improvement timeline you’re developing to an actual calendar will also allow you to determine whether you’re being idealistic or keeping your two feet on the ground (in this case, you’d better be safe than sorry).
Now you’ve already gotten the general idea of how you may want to proceed, stay tuned for the next steps in the process of creating a product roadmap.
Free Product Roadmap Template!
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Our product roadmap template was developed to help you learn how to prioritize your features by following the best practices of product management – from defining the type of improvement to the advanced measurement of impact on your goals.