How to build a roadmap of a product

In many companies, the product development process starts with ideas for new features. These features are prioritized based on the expected return and cost of development, a roadmap is created and sent to the team to be executed. Does this sound familiar?

In this case, there’s a good chance of getting lost while the solution is being built, increasing exponentially the chances of building too many things which people don’t use, as well as bogging down your company’s capacity for responding quickly and effectively to changes in the market and your clients’ experience.

Bearing all this in mind, let’s get down to the facts:

The problem with the traditional roadmap

The greater an object’s mass, the more energy is required to change its direction. This is true for both the physical world and for the world of business.

In a traditional roadmap, there is the illusion of over planning, giving stakeholders a false sense of security and predictability. But this practice increases the process’s rigidity, reduces creative capacity, and also focuses on the clients’ real needs. The consequence is the development of resources that will never be used, wasting time and energy.

Lean roadmap

“Planning is knowing you’ll need to adjust your course every half an hour”Amyr Klink

This means having less mass. Less mass means being able to change quickly. To decide to launch new features now or later. To react to the market or evolve your product. To listen and meet your clients’ needs. To reduce the cost of the changes.

The more it costs to make a change, the less likely it is that it’ll be made. Your competition may change faster and you’ll be left at a great disadvantage. If the change is too costly, you’ll be dead.

The capacity to change in the blink of an eye is something lean products have by nature, and that Frankenstein products will never achieve. Fast and cheap changes are the weapon of success in a constantly changing market.

When we talk about a roadmap, we want visibility, the capacity for adaptation and predictability with the possibility to change direction quickly, and not a commitment to deliver everything that was planned. This comes through clarity about: goals, metrics, challenges, and which of our clients’ needs we think we should address to achieve the business results and have a positive impact on the clients.

How to build a more effective product roadmap?

In the golden circle, define the medium or long-term goal, how to measure success, and what should be delivered.

  1. GOALS: What are the short term objectives? What are the problems, necessities, or opportunities?
  2. METRICS: What metrics do we use to know whether we’ve achieved success?
  3. CHALLENGES: What challenges must we overcome to get there?
  4. HYPOTHESES: What hypotheses about client needs do we believe need to be resolved in order to achieve the expected results?

The time for each goal depends on your business model. It could be days, weeks, or months. Ideally, go for the shortest cycle possible.

How to start?

Now you know what a more effective product roadmap is, it’s time to get working. Download the Product Roadmap spreadsheet we’ve prepared for you.

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Foto de Magno de Santana
Magno de Santana

Agile Expert and Trainer at Knowledge21, Magno is passionate about innovation, with experience in developing digital products using Design Thinking, Lean Startup, and Agile Development practices.


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