Product Roadmap Planning: Aligning Business Goals with Product Development

Your product road map conveys a narrative. It illustrates 

  • where your product is now
  • where it is heading
  • how it’s going to get there 

As its popularity and usefulness rise, it shows 

  • when certain features are ready to go online
  • when new platforms are to be supported
  • where your business is expected to gain new customers or income streams 

What is a roadmap for a product?

A product roadmap is a powerful visual overview that outlines your product line’s long-term goal and strategy. It explains the purpose and scope of the product you are developing. A roadmap is a strategic document and an execution plan for the product strategy.

The product roadmap contains many ultimate objectives:

  • Explain the strategy and vision
  • Give a document to guide the execution of the approach
  • Get internal stakeholders on board
  • Promote discussion of alternatives and scenario planning
  • Facilitate communication with external parties, including consumers

Ideally, your product roadmap needs to communicate the product’s strategic direction. Moreover, it needs to connect to the company’s overall strategy. Within this framework is, of course, the general construction sequence.

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What is the significance of a product roadmap?

Product roadmaps summarise the process through which the product strategy is implemented. They consider several competing goals and narrow them down to what is most crucial. The roadmap puts less importance on flashy projects and more emphasis on work that makes a meaningful difference to the stakeholders.

In addition, they provide 

  • Inspiration
  • Drive
  • Sense of shared ownership over the product and its triumphs

All the work performed by individual contributors frequently makes sense only within the framework of the product roadmap. Informing skeptics of this strategy and the company’s expectations helps win them over.

Sales presentations, marketing strategies, and financial information are typically kept close to the vest. But product roadmaps are among the few things that practically everyone in the company is exposed to. This is the sole opportunity for many employees to see where the products and company are headed and why specific decisions were taken. They offer everyone in the organisation a common knowledge of the company’s vision, goals, and objectives.

Product roadmaps also prevent businesses 

  • from allowing anarchy to reign
  • from allowing pet projects to slide into the execution queue
  • from wasting time and resources on less essential activities 

For everyone bringing the item to the marketplace, they serve as the 

  • Lighthouse
  • focal point
  • compass 

Who is in charge of the product roadmap?

Developing a product roadmap is a collaborative endeavor. But, it is the responsibility of the product management group ultimately. This mix of cooperation and separate ownership brings stakeholders on board while protecting informational integrity and preventing anarchy.

The executive team provides the product management team with a comprehensive grasp of the products and the organisation’s strategic objectives. The product management team then develops the major themes for this phase of the product lifecycle keeping the intended results in mind.

How do you make road maps?

Road mapping is an integral aspect of every product manager’s (PM’s) job. Yet, many of them dislike it. Fortunately, several fantastic product roadmap tools are available to make the process more manageable. Learn more about roadmapping tools and select a proper tool to ease your work.

Understand why you are creating this plan and its intended format before making a choice. Not all road mapping tools let clients examine the roadmap. If you want your consumers to have access, choose a tool that enables you to do so.

Alignment between business objectives and product development

There are a few straightforward actions to ensure that your plan complements rather than contradicts the overarching business strategy. 

1. Determine your organisational strategy plan

The product team is frequently required to prioritise tactical roadmap tasks and deliverables. Understand the big picture, product, and development before building long-term product and technology plans or motivational tools for employees.

If your leadership team is structured, you have already created a strategic plan or comparable document. Yet more often than not, this strategy is conveyed informally, or critical components are withheld from those who need to know. This leaves product managers without the required information to do their duties.

Have a strong product management team in place to carry out the company’s strategic goals. Much of the staff is guided by the roadmaps they construct as they transform the company’s vision into product strategy. 

The likelihood of a plan’s effective implementation is greatly increased when product managers fully understand the company strategy. The executive team must deliver the plan immediately to the product management team. This promotes the essential debate and provides a shared understanding of the product strategy’s ramifications.

2. Determine which metrics your organisation values

Depending on your firm’s maturity or financing level, your management team tends to focus on a few important figures. They are frequently related to revenue, such as

  • Profitability
  • Average revenue per user
  • Margins
  • Unit cost 

Prioritise growth and usage metrics like 

  • total users
  • new users
  • market share
  • frequency
  • session length
  • total engagements
  • uptime
  • volume of transactions
  • net promoter score
  • customer care call volume
  • defect rate
  • churn rate

Ensure that your roadmap is always aligned with corporate objectives. Provide each release and feature contributes to one of these enterprise-wide KPIs. If you link your effort to a positive shift in these metrics, speak their language and further justify the investment in these projects. Which statistics are essential for your business? Ask your employer. Or the boss of your boss. They need not be kept hidden (even if the specific numbers are being closely guarded).

3. Understand the role of product management in achieving corporate objectives

After you understand the broader business strategy and how it is measured, the next stage is determining how your product contributes to it. With a single-product business, when you have many products, you must be able to articulate the part of growth you are responsible for achieving or the primary objective your product is designed to serve.

In addition, use this phase to evaluate whether resources are being distributed effectively. Suppose your product is expected to produce 75% of the growth over this period but only has 25% of the resources. Use this chance to fight for more people or money to add more value to your plan.

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4. Ensure your roadmap tells a story

Each release is only a list of requirements for your technical organisation and project managers; your roadmap needs to be different from the executive team.

This is evident in roadmaps that consist primarily of unrelated, low-level features. The focus is too low-level and lacks linkage to 

  • significant business objectives
  • marketplace and technology developments
  • essential new consumer value propositions

It also reflects a scattershot approach to addressing specific consumer feature requests without establishing the overall picture. Instead, your roadmap needs to have a storyline, with each section relating to the overarching business objectives you have set. For example, this feature solves this KPI, that release allows a critical functionality that enables us to target another market, etc.

5. Consider your plan a reality check

Corporate objectives are established at a high level. Frequently, persons detached from the day-to-day realities of what your organisation achieves given market trends and its resources define the objectives. Ensure your road mapping is centered around accomplishing company goals and not just what is good for a single product. Then, offer early input on which objectives are likely to be attained and which are in danger if significant adjustments are not made.

A product plan is only possible with 

  • Market
  • Consumer
  • Technology analysis

Creating an informed product roadmap is only helpful if it is integrated with and linked with the business’s broader strategy. Verify that it corresponds with the long-term objectives and goals that you have established for your organisation. This is the only way to give your product plan meaning. 

No one enjoys delivering bad news. Create a roadmap that is focused solely on how your product contributes to the company’s overall strategy. This provides valuable feedback to your management staff. Feedback is regarding the likelihood of your organisation achieving its goals and also how your product is assisting in this endeavor.

Product roadmap is the vision for the future conveyed to all stakeholders 

Determine your company’s goals, how they are being measured, and how the products are expected to contribute to achieving them. You are assured that your roadmap describes how your product is going to accomplish these objectives and what is genuinely doable.

About Author- Fatema Aliasgar is an experienced B2B and SaaS content writer based in Mumbai, India. She has done her Master’s in Business Management and has written B2B content for seven years. She likes to read non-fiction and play board games with her kids during her free time.