Practical approach to create product roadmap
A product roadmap is to a product manager what a navigation chart is to a sailor. The tool that guides in the journey from the current state to destination sought. Destination sought is defined by the vision or the mission statement. Purpose of this article is to describe a simple, practical yet effective approach to create a product roadmap.
Step 1: “Begin with the end in mind”
Having a clear understanding of what the destination and the origin/current-state is the first step of the journey.
- Breakdown the company vision or mission statement into goals.
- Further break down the goals into primary metrics.
- Get a picture of how these primary metrics will look once the business has achieved those goals
- Capture the current state of these metrics.
Step 2: Gather ideas
Go through an ideation process and capture an holistic exhaustive list of feature requirements . Include all verticals of the company in this process.Brainstorm as many ideas possible and ignore the cost of development.
Step 3: Prioritize each idea for each individual goal
Every feature idea generated in the the brainstorm process needs to be prioritized separately across the primary metrics. In example from above retention, user acquisition revenue are our primary metrics. Rank all the ideas collected in step 2 under these three goals.
Step 4: Allocate weights to each goal
Our three goals, retention, user acquisition and revenue don’t have equal weight-age. Assign weights to each individual goal. Depending on the state of the company, market, seasonality proportion of weights will change. Remember the quote from the movie Lincoln:
A compass, I learned when I was surveying, it’ll… it’ll point you True North from where you’re standing, but it’s got no advice about the swamps and deserts and chasms that you’ll encounter along the way. If in pursuit of your destination, you plunge ahead, heedless of obstacles, and achieve nothing more than to sink in a swamp… What’s the use of knowing True North?
In addition to these goals there is one more goal. It is engineering operability popularly known as tech debt. Assign weights to each of your goals.Assume you have $100 and you want to spend this 100$ in reaching your vision. How will you distribute this amount. Make sure you allocate 10% of resources on Tech debt.
Step 4: Unified scoring
Multiply the priority generated in step 3 with the assigned weight to calculate the weighted score for each goal. Sum these individual goals to calculate the total score. This exercise is useful as it will prioritize a feature that has impact across all the goals rather than a feature that impacts just one
Step 7, Find out tee shirt size costing of each feature
Step 8, create an impact and effort matrix.
Step 8 introduces the cost element to our roadmap. Pick the items that are in the “High-impact & low effort” bucket first and then move to the “High-impact & High effort” bucket. This step in addition also re-validates our scoring process in Step 6. Every two months rinse and repeat this process.