Studies show that we perceive 80-85 percent of all information with our eyes. This is worth considering when creating such product as software, even when it comes to purely internal working documents. And when the time comes to write down a strategy of product creation (and it will come for sure), the best way to present it is to do it visually. Note, that this strategy should not be in someone’s head, but clearly spelled out so that everyone involved in the product’s creation can rely on it. It all can be fulfilled with a document called a roadmap and today we will talk about it.
A roadmap is a visualization of the strategic development of a company or product. It is an action plan that unites the organization with short-term and long-term goals related to this product or project and methods of achieving these goals. In general, the roadmap answers the questions “who?”, “what?” and “when?” The roadmap’s key advantage is that it represents the relationships between different departments over a long period of time. Since this tool is understandable for any specialist or investor, you can use the roadmap to explain the business strategy literally at any negotiations. You can read more about what a product roadmap is, what types of roadmaps exist, and how to create your own in this comprehensive article. And in this material, let us focus on the benefits that roadmaps provide.
1. Cooperation and communication between company departments
Regardless of the product’s strategic orientation, many development teams in practice work on predefined requirements and functions. These solutions are often defined by management while tasks and problems of the target audience remain invisible to developers.
As a result, when discussions start about goals achievement, arguments revolve around technical feasibility and economic viability. However, it is often overlooked whether version A or B solves the problems of the target user and whether the product concept is taken into account. The goal of the roadmap is to accelerate discussion and decision making by focusing on the product rather than the project. The content of the product roadmap isn’t carved in stone but serves as a communication basis for strategic decisions.
The product roadmap identifies a clear problem for a group of users (e.g., in the form of work performed or user stories) and guarantees development teams the necessary freedom to develop solutions that meet the needs of the target audience. In the past, tight control points and fixed product requirements often led to frustration and questions within teams because the reason for these regulations wasn’t clear to many participants. Instead, the focus should be on the overall context, the bigger picture if you wish.
Stakeholders need to explain why a new function is released first and how its success contributes to the achievement of company goals. Users, on the other hand, are interested in the ease of use and the benefits they get from a new feature or product. It makes sense to establish a transparent connection between the corporate vision, strategic direction of the new product, and the target audience.
Thus, the product roadmap allows to move from the question “Why are we doing this?” to the discussion “Can one or another feature help us to achieve our goals faster?
Keeping track of the project’s vision is easier with a roadmap
2. The roadmap allows you to focus on user needs
Specific problems and objectives of the target audience should be visible in the roadmap. In the past, the number of deliveries (products or functions) and resource savings during product development have been crucial to the project’s success. Resources for user research and quality testing were practically not allocated and therefore were not included in the list of unfulfilled tasks by developer teams because they were too time-consuming and invaluable.
Companies realized that this approach was not enough in an era of shorter product life cycles. The products and functions delivered did not always contribute to the achievement of the company’s goals and therefore to the success of the supply chain. In recent years, user research has been on the agenda of almost every company, because companies didn’t focus on clients demands. The product roadmap is perfect for transferring this knowledge so that development teams can work more specifically on possible features and solutions.
Different teams can collaborate efficiently with the roadmap
3. It is convenient for presentations to the team and investors.
With special roadmap apps, you can customize many parameters and elements in just a couple of minutes. You can read more about such tools here and the abundance of ways to display information graphically in them can be an excellent help at important meetings.
Let’s imagine a situation. You have a meeting with startup investors, you can display a roadmap view that only shows topics that you have painted in specific colors. Thus, you immediately focus on certain components of your roadmap, which makes it easier to understand at just a glance.
Now, as you go through one of the topics, one investor might say, “What you are proposing about profit potential sounds great, but can you show us how you came to that conclusion?” With a roadmap created with special tools, you can easily demonstrate all your evidence directly in the document by attaching various data to it – polls, charts, reports, or links to third-party data sources. This way, you can present your roadmap without unnecessary details – but with just a couple of clicks, you can pull out all the data or documentation that you’ve attached to a particular topic. It is both comfortable and impressive.
4. Efficient sharing
The product roadmap can be a web document accessible via one URL, or it can be embedded on a page in your company or on any number of other cloud collaboration platforms. This means you only need to update one version of the roadmap, and you know that anyone viewing the roadmap in your organization will always see the latest version.
You can save your roadmap in one place and provide the right access levels for the right teams and people. Another advantage of using the roadmap is that you can avoid all the problems with version control and multiple documents running through your organization.
You can also use roadmap tools to grant access to users with different rights. For example, you can give your development team unrestricted access to view, and your business team members can both view and edit a document.
So, let’s sum it up. The product roadmap is an incredibly useful tool for managers and performers of all levels. It’s cool to have a document at your fingertips, which is enough for an investor to understand that your startup is promising and you have a clear plan of action. However, a road map alone will not be enough to develop a quality product.There are still a lot of things to take into account, and in order not to forget anything, it is best to have competent experts to consult with.