It is not necessary to reinvent the wheel, but thorough research is needed to ensure that a service or product supplies a need in an innovative way and will continue doing so for the foreseeable future. A product roadmap should show this and be internally consistent, matched up with business principles and prioritized appropriately while matching up to resource allocation. There are numerous templates and software packages that can assist in preparing a product roadmap. Therefore it is easy to produce a fairly professional product roadmap with a minimal amount of exertion on the presentation of the roadmap. The real challenge is what goes into it. A well-planned product roadmap is a crucial tool that describes the vision of the business and how the business believes a product is likely to grow. It is a business plan and vision statement. This will assist greatly in aligning the stakeholders to acquire a budget for the product. Although there is a plethora of methods of creating a roadmap, creating an effective roadmap is not easy, particularly where changes in markets occur frequently and unexpectedly.
Here is a quick guide to what investors are looking for, and what to put in a good product roadmap;
- Defining principle: Start by iterating why the product exists and the intended approach to running it. Good examples of how to do this is adding a mission statement or principles. Most importantly, believe in them and then pin them at the top of every roadmap. Then it will be clear if the rest of the roadmap doesn’t match with the original principles.
- Define intentions or compare progress against original goal: For new roadmaps lay out the numbers and explain metrics. Clearly define the time frame for all goals. If the roadmap is a follow-up, update investors how the business is doing in comparison with the original goals and elaborate on what has happened since the last roadmap update. Conclude with whether the business is meeting expectations, and if not, what is being done to get back on track.
- Roll out the numbers: After explaining what’s been going on recently with the product, show it numerically. If there’s no clear metric that shows profitability, demonstrate it in other ways (e.g. by using benchmarks in the industry or user feedback), giving investors a good overview.
- Discuss short-term goals: Explain the plan of action for the period leading up to the next product roadmap update, and the motivation behind every intended action. Create a theme, explain marketing strategies and target audiences and the plans for improving the product.
- Discuss long-term goals: Define and how they will be affected by the short term goals, include the focus over the next year and how the theme will develop.
- Explain in detail the size and theme of every project: Get nit-picky about the projects in the pipeline with a brief description, size estimate, which theme it corresponds to, and expected delivery date.
- Create presentable appendices with detailed tables and charts