David Tuite

Product Roadmaps Relaunched: Chapter 4 Notes

December 09, 2018

A product vision should be about having an impact on the lives of the people your product serves, as well as on your organization.

Your mission

The mission is the purpose driving you to realize your vision. It must reflect what you do for someone else. It can’t just describe how value will be created for your shareholders.

There are 4 key elements to a well-crafted mission statement:

  1. Value. What value does your mission bring to the world?
  2. Inspiration. How does your mission inspire your team to make the vision a reality?
  3. Plausibility. Is the mission realistic and achievable?
  4. Specificity. Make sure the mission is specific to your industry or sector and resonates with the organization.

Your vision

Vision is the longer-term outcome you seek. It should describe the target customer and the benefit they will receive or the need they have that will be addressed.

Your values

Values help you determine what is right or wrong for your business. Take InVision’s values as an example

Question assumptions. Think deeply. Iterate as a lifestyle. Details, details. Design is everywhere. Integrity.

the first slide of a presentation on Invisions Values. It shows the first value

Values give employees a guide for how to make decisions during their work.

Value Proposition Template to define product vision

To help define your vision statement, fill out the blanks and it into a sentence.

  • For: [target customer]
  • Who: [target customer’s needs]
  • The: [product name]
  • Is a: [product category]
  • That: [product benefit/reason to buy]
  • Unlike: [competitors]
  • Our product: [differentiation]

Product Strategy and Business Objectives

Your product strategy connects you high-level vision to the specifics of your roadmap. Your strategy explains a bit about how you will achieve your vision.

One of the outputs of your strategy will be business objectives that you must hit along the way to making your vision a reality.

OKRs

Objectives and Key Results are a great way to track progress towards business objectives.

  1. Everything on the roadmap must be tied to at least one of your objectives.
  2. The total number of objectives must be approximately five.
  3. Focus on outcomes, not output.

Common business objectives

Some business objectives are very common. If you ask “why” enough times about a proposed feature, solution, theme or other initiative, you will likely end up at one of these objectives.

  1. Support the product’s core value
  2. Create barriers to competition
  3. Grow market share
  4. Fulfill more demand
  5. Develop new markets
  6. Improve recurring revenue
  7. Support higher prices
  8. Improve lifetime value
  9. Lower costs
  10. Leverage existing assets

A roadmap based primarily on internal business objectives is not suitable for sharing with customers or channel partners. They only care about how you add value to them.

Key results and metrics

What metrics should change as your product is successful? Keep this list short. Something like 3 to 5 metrics is enough. The more objectives you have, the less focus you can give each one.

Metrics are most effective when combined with customer feedback. Try to be both quantitative and qualitative.

Outcomes over output

The risk of an output-focussed roadmap is that the team releases feature after feature. With no tie back to the reason for these features. No tie back to the vision. This is called a feature factory.

Timing on the roadmap

A release plan is a document which can tell stakeholders what features they can expect and when. A release plan requires rigorous scope definition and engineering capacity planning. The release plan is the place you send people when they ask “when will x be ready”.

A roadmap is different. A roadmap is a sequence of stakeholder priorities. The roadmap should only show loose timeframes such as Now, Next or Later.

Case Study: SpaceX

Vision statement

SpaceX was founded under the belief that a future where humanity is out exploring the stars is fundamentally more exciting than one where we are not. Today SpaceX is actively developing the technologies to make this possible, with the ultimate goal of enabling human life on Mars.

This is part mission and part vision. It is aspirational and lofty. It describes the benefit (omitted) as being the ability to avoid an extinction event here on earth.

Business Objectives

To make emigration to Mars viable, Musk intends to “drive the cost to the equivalent of a house in the US - about $200,000”. That’s a business objective with a key result.

Themes

  1. Full spacecraft reusability
  2. Refueling in orbit
  3. Propellent production on Mars
  4. Right propellant

There is no specific technology or solutions proposed here. Just themes.


David Tuite

Written by David Tuite who is a product manager at Workday and used to be a software engineer. You should follow him on Twitter