David Tuite

Product Roadmaps Relaunched: Chapter 6 Notes

December 09, 2018

This chapter explores the role of the following secondary roadmap components:

  1. Features and solutions
  2. Stage of development
  3. Confidence
  4. Target customers
  5. Product Areas

When and why do features appear on the roadmap

  • There are valid situations where it makes sense to put features on the roadmap.
  • When adding features, it is appropriate to represent them as subthemes.
  • Before adding a feature to the roadmap, ask yourself…

    1. Do we have enough understanding of the customer need to feel confident?
    2. What is the likelihood that this feature will be changed, postponed or dropped from the schedule?

Probable solutions

Sometimes you will have enough knowledge or confidence based on previous experience to include a probable solution on the roadmap. This does not mean the team has decided on a solution. It means a likely solution is evident.

Infrastructure solutions

Infrastructure needs often come from the engineering team who are already subject matter experts. They require less validation from customers and therefore can transition from need to solution rather quickly.

Carryover solutions

If something gets pushed from a previous roadmap or release plan we can include that in the new roadmap.

Stage of development labels

These are labels denoting the stage that the theme or feature is in. It could be design or development or testing or whatever.

These help the reader understand how the theme or feature is progressing.

Communicating confidence

To a certain extent, the timeframe columns on the roadmap will communicate confidence. Confidence should be strongest in the here and now and weaken as we look further out.

In addition, we can label each theme or feature with a confidence percentage to indicate how likely delivery is.

Identifying target customers

Many products serve multiple target customers but an individual theme may not be a problem that they all share. Labeling themes and features with the target customer can help readers understand where they should pay special attention.

Tagging product areas

Similarly, not all themes or features will touch all parts of the product. Some will be UI specific or API specific for example. Labeling with product area can help the reader understand what is important to them.

Summary

Remember to strive for balance. Adding too much detail to your roadmap can make it difficult to read and interact with. Too little detail will not communicate anything to the customer and leave them with low confidence in your ability to deliver.


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