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Monday 24 September 2018
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How to Build a Software Product Roadmap

How to Build a Software Product Roadmap

Roadmapping is an essential process for the development of any software product. It’s what helps you keep an eye on current development and helps guide strategic initiatives for the future. But the challenge is; how can you build a software product roadmap that everyone can understand – and ensure it helps guides your development properly? Find out below!

The Elements of a Good Product Roadmap

 A good product roadmap, fundamentally, answers the questions, “what” “why”, and “how”.

What are we doing?

Why are we doing this?

How will this tie back to our objectives and organizational goals?

A more complex roadmap may also answer when the task will be done, and who will be doing it, but this granularity should typically be reserved for developer roadmaps, not for everyone, no one will read the project roadmap if they can’t understand it.

1. Focus On “Now”, “Next” And “Later”

 The best way to begin the process of building a roadmap is to divide each goal into three categories:

  • Now – Tasks that you are working on immediately, these are the tasks that will make a difference right away. These kinds of tasks should be very detailed, with clear objectives, a development timeframe, specs and designs, and so on.
  • Next – Tasks that are coming up soon. These have a bit more flexibility and a wider area of focus.
  • Later – Tasks that must be done in the future, but require a bit more research, groundwork, or development before you can get started. These are more high-level tasks with a flexible, broad scope.

This is a great way to build a high-level overview of what you’re doing and organize each task appropriately. These goals are not placed on a timeline, this is NOT a release planner.  This gives you plenty of space to adjust and change.

2. Define “Themes” for Each Part of Your Roadmap

This is a great way to use a roadmap to explain your actions to stakeholders, management, and clients. Attach a theme to each individual project step or task.

For example, the task “Two-step login and HTTPS support” would fall under the “Security” theme. “Streamline checkout flow” could fall under “User Experience”.

Defining a theme for each task makes it easier to tie it into your key performance indicators and goals. It also helps you define your priorities, and incorporate more feedback into your planning, as these tasks can be easily modified.

3. Support Your Themes with Data and Details

Another great thing about a theme-based approach is that you can support each individual theme with more data and details, and build the case for why it’s necessary, when asked by a client or anyone else.

Using our above example, let’s take “Streamline checkout flow”.

 

  • What are we doing? We’re modifying and enhancing the checkout experience with features like autofilling, and the removal of unnecessary visual elements.
  • Why are we doing it? Because doing so enhances the user experience, which maximizes conversions (and profits!) in turn.
  • How do we tie this back to our organizational goals? One of our goals is to increase conversions and decrease shopping cart abandonment rates.

 

Assemble Your Themes into a Comprehensive Product Roadmap

 Next, it’s time to assemble a more comprehensive product roadmap.

Using an agile approach, you’d most likely use a card-based workflow. Divide the workflow into “Now” “Next” and “Later”.

Then, tag each card with the theme of the task, and write a short description of the scope. Then, tag the product areas – such as “Social” “Marketing” “Backend” “Design”, and so on.

That’s it! Now, anyone can understand each task or card at a glance. They’ll quickly learn its scope, why it’s essential, when it will be done, and what systems it relates to.

Keep Everyone on The Same Page With A Great Product Roadmap!

A more general, theme-based roadmap like this is perfect for stakeholders who are not involved in technical processes, or for presenting a vision to clients. So learn how to build this kind of software product roadmap now!




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