A RoadMap for Touch-down
Definition of a RoadMap:
A roadmap communicates the why and what behind what you’re building. It’s a guiding strategic document as well as a plan for executing the strategy. A roadmap is a high-level visual summary that maps out the vision and direction of your product offering over time.
“By the way, a bunch of features does not constitute a product and a list of features doesn’t make a product roadmap. Therefore, focus on themes, not features. A theme is a promise to solve a customer problem. It requires user research and you will need to identify pain levels, effort levels and business values to prioritize your product roadmap. Focusing on themes shifts the attention from playing feature catch-up with competitors, pet features of individual stakeholders and the dreaded “we know what to build” attitude to delivering customer value.”
Role of a Product Manager in handling RoadMap:
Adaptability and Agility is the core to Product Management. A product roadmap is not sacrosanct, it is a guide. It may need to change based on market conditions. Corporate strategies and priorities often dictate a different direction to product than it was originally thought. This is where the essence of a good product manager is felt. It is for the product manager to assess the situation and work on re-prioritizing.
A Product Manager is a good quarter back who has all his plays written on his wrist(read road map for PM). He cannot always stick by the plays and have to think on his feet based on the defense formation of the opposition (read competitors) or depending on the availability of his receivers (read market scenario).
A product manager as in the case of a Quarter back is only as good as his team, if his team(frontline) is not supportive, any Product Manager or Quarter Back is deemed to fail, which in turn would pull the whole team down(read product and product roadmap).
Example of a Product RoadMap:
To get a quick and easy idea of what a roadmap is a let us have a glance at WhatsApp’s release(roadmap) since its inception.
Looking at the timeline provided in the above link we get an idea of how the App has adjusted/tuned its releases & features based on market and business scenario.
When there was a security concern in the Jan of 2012, the priority was given to developing /plugging the hole by bringing in encryption around the August time frame.
All the features added in WhatsApp as per the company’s executive are based on user feedback. “Most of our roadmap is based on what users want.” Whatsapp has been able to leverage Facebook’s infrastructure for voice calls and will be doing the same for video calls.
WhatsApp as a part of its roadmap has been continuously looking at evolving and revolutionizing. It alters it roadmap based on the market and competition. Like brining in Voice in Video calls, improving the camera feature or adding or dropping support to certain devices and such.
Roadmap is supposed to be a visual representation of the long-term strategy. It is not a detailed release plan. It’s not a promise of delivery, or a depiction of user numbers or revenue. It can and should change based on situation and need.