Oct 22, 2022 Digital BIAS

How do you develop a product roadmap framework?

Your product roadmap - critical to your go-to-market strategy. There is no one way to go about this process and we've covered other areas of the product roadmap in the form of metrics, methods and frameworks. These include:

Collectively, they all provide valuable insights into the way you build your product roadmap; in our guide to PLG for SaaS leaders, we cover the top line things that you need to know about the product-led growth approach. 

So what else is there to talk about?

Product Roadmap Frameworks

Well in truth, walking through product development frameworks in silos is okay, but often, you can use frameworks collectively for better understanding, testing and realisation. For example, in the last stage of the HEART framework, Task Success could leverage the Time to Value (TTV) framework to dive deep into success metrics.

Recognising the value of an external methodology other than the framework you are currently using will help you build a successful product roadmap framework.

What is a product roadmap framework?

A product roadmap framework is a visual representation of the vision and priorities of your platform's development over time. It considers the whole product development process, from discovery and inception to potential post-launch features. Given that most platforms are constantly releasing feature updates or running multiple products, aligning the business around the roadmap is essential to communicating impending value.

We're always astounded by the number of decent-sized SaaS organisations where internal teams or product managers guard the roadmap like the crown jewels and won’t share until it’s too late with their marketing, sales and customer success teams. 

Cross-functional use of the roadmap

A lot goes into communicating new value propositions and feature releases beyond the simple act of new lines of code. Your marketing team needs to plan its comms strategy for new users, your customer success team needs to communicate that value to current users and if necessary your sales team need to be able to communicate that value in sales calls.

So as you can see, without a cross-functional team, the roadmap is nothing more than a timeline for product development. With a cross-functional team, the roadmap is a tool to drive revenue. It helps the team create a product roadmap that supports the business goals, focusing on high-impact specific features that can be resolved in the short term and within a defined time frame.

Let’s look at the four key elements of the product roadmap framework.

  1. Be goal specific
  2. Identify your problems
  3. Align internally
  4. Define your metrics ↑

How to be Goal Specific

  • Define your product goal/goals for a specific timeframe (month, quarter etc)
  • Determine the
    • Who?
    • What?
    • How?
  • Align these with the product vision for new and existing users

How to Identify Your Problems

  • Use the HEART framework to identify your problems and define those that are easily solvable but also impact the defined goals on your roadmap the most
  • Focus on key bottlenecks in select channels to simplify your approach, for example, competitive analysis, customer feedback or usage data

Be cross-functional to align internally

  • Use cross-functional teams and high collaboration to discover possible paths to achieve an outcome 
  • Collaborate consistently with your customers and customer-facing teams, to make the right market-driven decisions from start to finish

Define your success metrics

  • Use a clear set of KPIs to align your roadmap with defined outcomes
  • Ask yourself:
    • What will the long-term impact be?
    • How will we measure this?
    • How will you communicate your product progress?

Use the examples above as a rule, but not a definitive guide. Each organisation has its own roadmap and set of challenges to solve, so customise this for your specific needs. Use tools like productboard, dragonboat or roadmunk which have freemium models to begin your product strategy journey - or if a paid solution won’t work use a high-level option like Google Sheets or Excel.

The three product roadmap models

There are three product roadmap models that teams use. These are the non-date model, hybrid model and timeline model. Let's look at each use case below.

The non-date model

Companies that use the non-date model effectively have a roadmap devoid of a timeline. Some organisations choose this model because it gives greater flexibility for early-stage products or products with constantly changing priorities.

This model works particularly well for products whose priorities change on the information they have daily or weekly.

The hybrid model 

Product teams that use the hybrid model are organisations that flex the roadmap monthly or quarterly.

This model is highly efficient for future planning whilst remaining flexible for unforeseen circumstances.

Plan your roadmap monthly, allowing your team to project expectations while remaining unconstrained around delivery dates.

The timeline model

Product teams that use the timeline model speak for themselves. They stick tightly to a plotted timeline of events or goals, which is highly effective for products with many moving parts.

Those organisations that adopt this model are likely planning their roadmap years in advance, across several cross-functional teams and deadlines, with a long-term vision for success.

If you want help to develop your product roadmap or your wider go-to-market strategy, contact the team here at BIAS. 

Published by Digital BIAS October 22, 2022