5 Mistakes to Avoid while Creating a Product Roadmap

The idea behind the JTBD framework is simple: people don’t buy products because they fit into consumer segments; they buy products to solve problems in their lives. Essentially, your product is purchased (hired) to solve a problem (to fulfil a job).

As a result, customers use a set of hiring criteria to compare different product offerings. These dimensions tell them how well a product solves their problems and can range from price, convenience, aesthetics, to whatever is important to them.

To improve your product, you must first determine what job it is being hired for and what hiring criteria it is being evaluated against. Then relentlessly optimise your product against those dimensions.

What is the product roadmap?

A product roadmap is a high-level visual summary of your product’s vision and direction over time. A product roadmap explains why and what you’re building. Roadmaps serve as both strategic guides and plans for implementing product strategies.

The ultimate goals of the product roadmap are as follows:

  • Describe the strategy and vision.
  • Provide a strategy execution guide.
  • Obtain agreement from internal stakeholders.
  • Facilitate options discussion and scenario planning
  • Assist in communicating with external stakeholders, such as customers.

Why is product planning important?

Product roadmaps describe how the product strategy is implemented. They take many competing priorities and distil them down to what is most important, pushing aside shiny objects in favour of work that moves the needles that stakeholders truly care about.

They also provide inspiration, motivation, and a sense of shared ownership of the product and its successes. Individual contributors’ work frequently makes sense only in the context of the product roadmap, and knowing that plan and what the organisation hopes it will bring can bring sceptics on board.

Product roadmaps are one of the few things that almost everyone in the organisation will see, whereas sales pitches, marketing plans, and financials are typically kept close to the vest. It’s a problem for many employees.

Product roadmaps also assist organisations in avoiding chaos, slipping pet projects into the implementation queue, and wasting resources on less important tasks. They serve as a beacon, focal point, and guideposts for everyone involved in bringing the product to market.

Mistakes to Avoid

Not updating the product roadmap

Once the team begins building features and executing the steps outlined in the roadmap, they may become so engrossed in the details of the features being built that they lose sight of the big picture. A Product Roadmap is one source of truth that should be consulted whenever the team or anyone involved has a question.

It is critical to keep this document up to date in order to ensure that the product roadmap can serve this purpose and is reliable enough to guide everyone down the right path. Even after the roadmap has been communicated and prepared, changes in the market, consumer demands, or company goals may occur. As a result, it is critical to review the product roadmap every week or as often as your stakeholder meetings require. You must also ensure that it is current and has been updated in response to market changes, key stakeholder demands, consumer demands, or other factors.

Product roadmap without any goal

Another common mistake made when developing a product roadmap is when product managers include a request from the most demanding stakeholders without considering whether it is truly necessary. This could be due to the stress they are under while working with key stakeholders. This can result in a biassed product roadmap that favours the demands of a key stakeholder.

If you have a well-established product with a clearly stated product vision and strategy, you must also have clearly defined KPIs that are aligned with the product vision. When defining a product roadmap, make it clear how it will aid in the achievement of the defined set of KPIs. If a product roadmap does not do this, it is simply a list of features driven by a key stakeholder.

Maintaining local copy of roadmap

Many product managers may create product roadmaps in MS Excel or PowerPoint. It is difficult to keep the updated versions up to date locally. Because a product roadmap must be distributed to multiple teams and stakeholders, it must be available in a location that anyone can access at any time. Furthermore, teams and stakeholders must have access to the most recent version. Maintaining local versions is not recommended and can cause significant problems if not communicated to everyone at the appropriate time.

Not setting realistic opinions

Before developing a product roadmap, most product managers collect product requirements from various sources. They consult with key stakeholders, analyse customer feedback, generate new ideas, and conduct market and competitor research.

They do not always include cross-functional teams in discussions about the ideas and features that are prioritised on the product roadmap.

Before presenting your product roadmap, get feedback from cross-functional teams on the effort required for a feature and its impact.

Not mentioning Constraints and assumptions

When creating a product roadmap for JTBD, you typically define the themes or high-level goals that must be met. You may not have complete information about a feature being scoped at that point. There could be other dependencies, such as waiting for more information from a vendor, or you could state that the release dates are tentative.

Whatever assumptions you make about the items on your product roadmap must be explicitly stated with asterisks. This is done to ensure that everyone is aware of the assumptions and constraints that may cause a delay or cause an item to be descoped later on.

Conclusion

Product roadmap creation is a difficult and critical task for a product manager. If it is not done correctly, it can lead to failure for the entire team working on bringing a product or feature to market in terms of JTBD. The key to a successful roadmap is to involve various teams and key stakeholders, gather input from various sources, and create a document outlining the next steps for your product while avoiding the common pitfalls listed above.

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