When you’re in the first stages of the product development cycle the very idea of thinking a year or even three years ahead can seem like overkill. Creating a product roadmap feels like a distraction from the more tangible goal of kicking off work on your Q1 products. But beware of pushing forward without a plan, because there’s a good chance that without a strategy, your upcoming product releases will veer way off track.
Does that mean your release schedule and your planned launches are doomed to fail if you’re a couple months into the product development cycle without a roadmap in hand? Well, not if you and your team are willing to treat wherever you are right now as a pause point.
You can’t go back in time and give your product roadmap the attention it should have received at the start of a new cycle, but you absolutely can sit down and develop a product roadmap that takes into account what you’ve accomplished thus far.
Failing to Plan Is Planning to Fail
Why is a solid roadmap so important to your release schedule’s success? Here are 10 reasons why companies are more likely to succeed with a product roadmap in place – and why they’re more likely to fail without one.
- A product roadmap is a valuable communication tool. The best roadmaps are unambiguous, have set milestones, and are focused on goals, ensuring that everyone on your team understands where you’re going and how you’ll get there. Your roadmap ensures that engineering, marketing, sales, and the C-suite are all on the same page.
- Having a roadmap in place makes products more competitive. Creating a product roadmap is an opportunity to take a long, hard look at the competition, potential competitive strategies, and the best ways to implement those strategies across releases.
- Features flow logically when there’s a roadmap to follow. Getting caught up in the excitement of feature development can lead teams down a chaotic or myopic path. Your roadmap ensures that feature implementations unfold rationally across products, helps to avoid feature creep, and guarantees all products in development get the attention they deserve.
- A roadmap gives you the time to be truly innovative. Because product roadmaps span multiple years, you have the opportunity to define innovations and technologies that enable future products to be successful. This luxury of time allows you to define complete programs, and then work to make them a reality.
- Roadmaps reveal gaps that might have gone unnoticed. Because a comprehensive product roadmap illustrates how each product is interrelated, any gaps in your strategy for individual launches will be immediately obvious.
- Roadmapping unites the company. The process of creating a comprehensive product roadmap is unifying – as your departments and team members build toward a common understanding of your goals, they begin to feel a shared ownership of how each product builds and contributes to the overall success of the business.
Once you have a product roadmap in place, display it and share it throughout your company. Everyone should be able to see how the project they are contributing to fits into the overall company strategy.