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A good product roadmap is one of the most important and influential documents an organization can develop, publish, and continuously update. In fact, this one document can steer an entire organization when it comes to delivering on company strategy.
This practical guide teaches you how to create an effective product roadmap, and demonstrates how to use the roadmap to align stakeholders and prioritize ideas and requests. With it, you’ll learn to communicate how your products will make your customers and organization successful.
Whether you’re a product manager, product owner, business analyst, program manager, project manager, scrum master, lead developer, designer, development manager, entrepreneur, or business owner, this book will show you how to:
- Articulate an inspiring vision and goals for your product
- Prioritize ruthlessly and scientifically
- Protect against pursuing seemingly good ideas without evaluation and prioritization
- Ensure alignment with stakeholders
- Inspire loyalty and over-delivery from your team
- Get your sales team working with you instead of against you
- Bring a user and buyer-centric approach to planning and decision-making
- Anticipate opportunities and stay ahead of the game
- Publish a comprehensive roadmap without overcommitting
From the Publisher
From the Preface
Who Is This Book For?
This book is written for product people. If you’re wondering if that’s you, we’re referring to the individual or individuals responsible for developing, prioritizing, and rallying support for the development of a product or service. This role has been compared to a mini CEO, but we think that overstates the level of control most product people have.
We prefer the analogy of the executive chef, the person who brings together kitchen staff, menu, and purchasing—and even trains the front-of-house staff—all in order to bring in customers, satisfy their hunger, and make money for the business. It is not enough for an executive chef to simply distribute the work, but each team member must understand whom they are serving, and why they are doing things a certain way, so as to create a seamless experience for the customer.
In many organizations (and particularly in technology organizations), this responsibility carries the title of product manager, product director, or product owner. Depending on the nature of your business and structure of your team, however, these duties may be handled by a myriad of other roles and functions, including project manager, development manager, engineering manager, technical lead, operations manager, program manager, user experience designer, customer success, quality assurance, and many more. In today’s fast-moving business environment, responsibilities and titles can change as frequently as the technologies we work with.
We wrote this book to be accessible to anyone involved in product, regardless of title. If your job includes strategizing about where your product is going, contributing to alignment around a shared vision, or developing a plan to execute, then we hope this book will be relevant, enlightening, and useful to you.
In addition, we want this book to be useful for product people of all experience levels. Whether you’re a product newbie, a seasoned veteran, or a senior leader responsible for a range of products (or a team of product people), we believe the approach we describe here will help you and your team communicate product direction effectively.
Maybe you had never heard of product roadmapping before you came across this book. That’s OK! (Welcome aboard, we have life jackets.) If you’re new to product development or new to the concept of roadmapping, we’ve designed this book to be a helpful introduction.
Or maybe you have a product roadmapping process but have realized it’s flawed. Maybe what you thought was a product roadmap was actually a business plan, a marketing plan, or a project plan.
Recognizing that you don’t have a working product roadmapping process is actually a great place to be. This means you can wipe the slate clean and start fresh.
How to Use This Book
Product roadmapping isn’t a destination; rather, it’s a journey, marked by a collection of actions that help define how to deliver the highest possible value to the customer. The following list identifies the key principles we’ve found are crucial to a successful product roadmap. You may already have some of these in place, and each company, product, and set of stakeholders is different, so we’ll talk about how you can mix and match based on your needs and the readiness of your organization.
We’ve organized the core of this book in the order of these tasks; however, our research has found that there’s no right order. In addition, Chapter 1 makes the case for a new approach to product roadmapping, Chapter 2 provides an overview of the core components, and Chapter 11 summarizes the entire process.
Gather inputs (Chapter 3)
Establish the product vision (Chapter 4)
Uncover customer needs (Chapter 5)
Dive deeper into needs and solutions (Chapter 6)
Master the art and science of prioritization (Chapter 7)
Achieve buy-in and alignment (Chapter 8)
Present and share (Chapter 9)
Keep it fresh (Chapter 10)