Building a Roadmap

As a product manager one of the most critical jobs is to create a solid roadmap. This is what your development team will follow to deliver value to the market and generate revenue for your product.

How do you decide what should be on the roadmap? How far out should the roadmap be? How do you prioritize the features on the roadmap? When things don’t fit , what do you drop? There is no silver bullet or perfect solution , however there are some guidelines that we could follow to do this effectively.

Here is a step by step outline on how one could roadmap effectively.

  1. Goal: First reach a consensus on what is the goal of the business provided by your upper management
  2. Feature Bucket: Once you have a goal, break it down into a bucket of “features” you need to deliver to meet that goal. This bucket can be produced by taking into account the following:
    1. Market trends (from analyst reports)
    2. Competitor trends and differentiation (from doing a competitive analysis)
    3. Existing customer and field feedback (from sales and support teams)
  3. Feature Filtering: Evaluate each feature based on the following criteria in order for it to make the roadmap:
    1. Does the feature align with the core strategy of the business
    2. Does the feature align with the core competency of the business and team?
    3. Does the feature have the ability to make money
    4. Roadmap
  4. Feature Prioritization and Phase Determination: Prioritize the selected features in order of which you expect them to arrive in order to meet your goal. These are called Phases (Phase 1 being the most urgent ones to deliver) Every phase contains:
    1. 20-25% customer-driven features i.e., features requested by customers (RFEs, features requested by influencers, pending deals)
    2. 15-20% functionality improvements of previously delivered features
    3. 55-65% market driven features i.e., new features that will help us differentiate in the market
  1. Timeline: Draw a timeline of 12 months (divided into 4 quarters, first 2 quarters divided into months, first 2 months divided into weeks). Determine where in the roadmap should the feature be placed. In order to do that you need to:
    1. Get a sizing from engineering for the MVP (minimally viable product) for each feature
    2. If sizing throws the feature from an earlier phase to a later phase, re-evaluate either 1) later phase is acceptable to meet the goal OR 2) what feature can be postponed to contain this feature in the right phase
    3. Negotiate and close plan with development
  1. Success Metrics: Define and track metrics for success of the roadmap and plan put together
    1. Feature Uptake: Did the delivery of features help to meet the goal defined? (E.g., Phase 1 features lead to x% increase in revenue in the 2 quarters following the delivery of the feature, Customer driven features helped close deals in the pipeline, x% increase in feature usage on completion of improvements)
    2. On Time Delivery: Did we deliver 90% of what we planned to the market on time? Did we deliver the remaining 10% in the next 30 days
    3. Quality of Delivery: All features delivered to the market should meet quality standards set by Support and Operations