This is how you increase the return of investment and support for your roadmap.
When you go on a trip you usually know where you are going, but imagine not knowing? If you set out without a plan, any route and any airplane will do. For many people a strange thought, traveling without knowing what your destination is. The result can be an unforgettable vacation, but the risk of disappointment is also very high.
Many companies do product development without a strategic roadmap. Then they are disappointed when the objectives are not met. Witch usually results in people pointing for blame at each other. While it is, actually, a result when you develop a product without an underlying strategy.
Setting up your roadmap. This is how you start
The design of your roadmap starts with aligning your product goals with your organisational goals. Start with research to figure out why your product is not satisfying and formulate a vision and objectives based on this research. The vision and objectives can then help to determine the prioritisation of changes and new investments on your product roadmap.
It is important to involve internal and external stakeholders in these decisions. By making stakeholders co-owners of the product vision, you get a greater chance of succes because of better support.
Quick wins vs. long term
For many organisations, it is difficult to manage and combine the various components of the roadmap. This is because short, simple and quick changes are often given an unfairly high priority. The annoying news is that you need to keep an eye on both at the same time.
Topics that are about quick-wins. These are usually the technical and UX changes that take relatively little time, but have a big impact on improving your product. A simple shortlist of requirements, along with a schedule and product backlog, is often sufficient.
A strategic roadmap that involves deeper thinking about goals and adjustments within the business. For a digital product, think about creating a new layout, or introducing a new payment process, but also fundamental changes to your business proposition.
Create a vision
A clear vision of your products and services helps you to make the right balance between short-term and long-term actions. Sometimes adjustments (the quick-wins) can't wait until you've improved something in the long term. And long-term goals are sometimes not achievable by focusing on the short term.
Therefore, both goals must be aligned in the roadmap. The product vision, kpi's, resources and available budget play an important role in this consideration. It is therefore important to estimate the required capacity for the quick wins as realistically as possible so that sufficient resources remain available for the strategic development.
By correctly balancing short and long term development, it becomes easier to combine the two. After all, you know what you can plan for and what KPIs you can steer towards. This also makes communication with your stakeholders, about the choices made for the roadmap, a lot easier.
For many organizations, such a distribution will result in a distribution of 80/20. This means that 80% of the available resources go to strategic goals and 20% to quick wins. If you stick to this, it becomes a lot easier to combine these subjects.
Optimal course or collision course? Measure your performance and you'll know.
It is important to measure the effect of these changes on internal processes and services and capture them in desired KPIs. This is important to determine whether objectives have been achieved. It also provides insight into the elements of your roadmap that need more attention.
To keep it clear, you can subdivide the roadmap into technical, design and strategy changes.
- Technical; Optimizing the performance of your website by, for example, implementing CMS updates, improving the development process or reducing the load time.
- Internal processes Think of setting up a design system or adjustments in your devops strategy
- User Experience; think about changes to an interface or revising an offline process with your customer. This can be improvements of your current functionalities, small additions like extra styling possibilities within a content page but also optimizing processes customer processes.
- Strategic changes; These changes potentially have a longer lead time. For example, a goal may be to increase the experience of your site, or you may want to introduce a new product that should contribute to a renewed brand strategy. These topics serve a purpose that is just always immediately achievable. It is therefore best to break them down into smaller steps.
What does your roadmap consist of
Now that you know how to approach the roadmap, the question soon arises; How do you make sure the roadmap is clear to everyone? The most effective roadmaps contain the following components:
Themes which can include different topics and improvements: Think 'customer growth', 'increasing sales' or 'fewer terminations'. Also answer questions such as "which target groups do we want to focus on?". It is helpful to link these themes to the organization and product goals.
- Timeframe These are the times when you can roll out the changes. In an agile process, this may be after each sprint. Try to keep the amount of changes within a single release limited. It is better to improve in small steps than to wait for a "big bang".
- A clear description of the functionality you are going to build. Put yourself in the shoes of the person who is going to use it. Many developments fail because they assume that everyone understands what is meant. The main purpose of describing functionalities is to remove assumptions.
- The problem or challenge that the improvement will solve. This is related to the description of your change and why you want to make this change. This is essential to communicating your vision to all stakeholders.
- Priority of functionalities: Priority can be determined in several ways. Namely;
- The degree to which the change helps the end customer
- The availability of required resources; are internal and external people available?
- Risk; what happens if we don't do it or do it too late
By incorporating these topics into the roadmap, you get a clear picture of the improvements that will be picked up, and the timeframe in which this will take place. In this way you meet the interests of the user and create support within your organization.
In short, it is important to go through all the steps in formulating a roadmap. This starts with mapping out the organizational objectives. These can then be translated into product objectives with which you can formulate the future vision of the product. You then translate this vision into concrete steps. These are the process changes, new functionalities, or improving existing functionalities and propositions.
When you execute all these steps, communicating with the stakeholders becomes easier.This reduces the chance of disappointment and ensures that everyone is excited about the journey. In the end, it's about giving direction to your organization, product portfolio and goals.