Well defined visual product roadmaps are the key to implementing an agile product strategy and driving your company towards a shared vision. But for some organizations, it's easy to get lost and lose focus of what the roadmap is there for.
Roadmapping should be fundamental to executing a product strategy, acting as a collaboration tool for shared decision making, rather than just a Gantt chart for planning. To ensure you stay on track, try following our 5 steps for successful product roadmapping.
1. Define a product strategy
Before you start, you must first define the product strategy your roadmap will focus on. This step should also include setting a product vision that your roadmap will direct stakeholders towards.
When compiling your product vision, it helps to set measurable goals or objectives, such as a product launch or a certain number of sales. This will help stakeholders to focus their efforts and be more engaged in hitting that target.
You don’t need to go into too much detail at this point, the next step will help develop your ideas.
2. Hold a roadmap planning workshop
At the start of any product roadmapping process, we advise holding a workshop to achieve the following:
- grow your product strategy
- cement the product vision
- plan the necessary steps
Workshops should be held in a collaborative environment that facilitates open discussion and idea generation. Whether in person or virtual, workshops are a great way to capture the best thinking of your group and get everyone on board. A roadmap planning workshop will enable you to build a strategy that works for your business before you begin.
With SharpCloud, features like customizable Forms, data-driven views, and dynamic collaboration tools make for stronger engagement and a shared understanding both during and after a workshop.
Workshops are absolutely crucial at the start of the process, and it's good practice to continue to hold them frequently throughout. This encourages your stakeholders to remain dedicated to the product vision and ensures that your roadmap is never out of date. This is often overlooked, as most managers don’t consider product roadmapping an ongoing process.
3. Prioritize activities
From the workshop, you should have a good list of activities that need to be carried out to achieve your product vision – but in what order? Prioritization is essential in successfully implementing your product strategy.
Knowing the sequence of tasks and how they link together is arguably the biggest challenge managers face when roadmapping. With so many elements to consider, you will need high-level logical thinking from someone who has a good view of the company’s overarching objectives.
With SharpCloud, you can map the relationships and interdependencies between tasks and see how they impact each other. This will help prioritize the right projects and programs for the best trade-offs between results and risks, and help to efficiently organize and present your tasks to support effective decision making around innovation.
Once you’ve finished prioritizing tasks, you should be left with a functional product roadmap. But don’t stop there. Although your roadmap may seem clear to you, you need to be sure it is clear to stakeholders and the wider organization. To accomplish this, you need to make it visually enticing.
Designing your roadmap to be visually attractive is key for engagement. Although the content and message is important, it’s likely that the visual appeal will determine the level of buy-in from stakeholders. Colour coding is an example of how you can make your roadmap not only more visually appealing, but also clearer for stakeholders.
This stage is crucial if you plan to use your product roadmap as a presentation tool, as its visual appeal will be key in determining the level of engagement it achieves.
Although this process requires creativity, how visually engaging your roadmap is will most likely come down to the type of roadmapping software you’re using - so make sure you pick the right one!
Bringing your data to life in a visually rich interactive presentation will enhance its interpretability and help empower smarter business decisions.
5. Share for Visibility
If a roadmap sits on a server and nobody sees it, does it have any value? It certainly won't be any good as a collaboration tool if it does. So, make sure your roadmap is hosted somewhere visible to stakeholders - perhaps somewhere that would fit into their existing working habits, such as a frequently used internal resource. And remember, using a roadmap shouldn’t be a distraction from work, it should be an integral part of it.
Of course, sharing a roadmap is much easier when it is hosted on a digital platform. With a live document, knowledge can be shared and transferred with ease, whereas roadmaps that remain static get quickly out of date. But even if you share your roadmap in an appropriate location, you cannot guarantee good engagement. If you opt to present your product roadmap, you can deliver better, two-way engagement with stakeholders.
From the initial stages of development to the presentation itself, SharpCloud can cover the entire roadmapping process with ease and ensure better decision making. SharpCloud has the design capabilities to clearly visualize your data and dynamic movement that rivals mainstream presentation software. If you'd like to experience SharpCloud for yourself: