Why product roadmap?

This article is a 2nd part in the series of blog post on ‘A practical guide to product roadmapping’. In this blog, i am focusing on the importance and need for product roadmap

1st part – A practical guide to product roadmap – What is product roadmap?

Why Product Roadmap

Every product has one or more of the below mentioned objectives

  • Drive profitability
  • Diversification or Expansion into new market segments
  • Increase market share
  • Increase registered users (typically for online products).

Product Manager would then outline a product strategy that defines how the product line will be evolved to meet those objectives after thoroughly performing market analysis, customer analysis and competitive analysis etc. What is the role of Product roadmap then? Product roadmap is the single most important document that provides a blue print of the overall plan in alignment with product strategy to either add exciting features to existing product(s) or add new product(s). Product roadmap describes how the product line will be exactly evolved over a specific time period and it ensures that all the stakeholders are unambiguously informed about the product objectives and how those objectives will be accomplished. Further product roadmap would essentially act as foundation in decision making process of any of the stakeholders (Sales Managers, BDMs, and Account Managers etc). For instance, if the overall objective is to drive profitability then the team can look forward to increase the overall sales margins by cutting down the discounts. If the overall objective is to purely expand into new markets, then team can focus on selling more possibly at the expense of margins.

Lack of product roadmap is akin to the famous quota of Benjamin Franklin – ‘If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail’. Lack of product roadmap would render product directionless and Product Manager is possibly letting all the stakeholders steer the product in different conflicting directions without any purpose or objective. Every product release would be filled with small set of insignificant features or features that require less effort and bug fixes. The impact might not be felt immediately, but slowly and steadily the sales would decline, rate of new deals acquisition dwindles, gap widens with competitors products, customers whine about lack of features that really excite them and they lose confidence to further invest in the product.

It is highly imperative that product roadmap had to be driven and prepared meticulously by the Product Manager consulting all the relevant stakeholders (customers, development team, sales, BDM etc) in a compelling manner such that the product roadmap reflect product growth strategy. Please be aware that product roadmap is just a plan and not a commitment, so every product manager should add necessary disclaimer to the product roadmap providing sufficient indications that product roadmap is prone to changes.

In the next part, i will talk about the various purposes of product roadmap.

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