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Roadmaps for B2B companies

Conversation with Nathan Creswell, Product Director at Zuora

How do you structure your roadmap for the team?

  1. Core features — Surfacing core Zuora features in the front office applications for my product area
  2. Strategic features — Features that are implemented because it will make the product better, get more revenue or give you a competitive edge
  3. Maintenance features — Small things which are the known and part of day to day product management — bug fixes and technical debt

Who are the stakeholders that provide input into the roadmap?

A good product manager does not have a knee jerk reaction to feature requests. Always have a lens on who the person is that is asking for the feature, what they are saying and where they are coming from — that fundamentally affects prioritization.

How do you prioritize features after you have the input?

For example, when Sales comes and says we need a feature — you cannot say yes immediately, you have to understand the problem and see what all the potential solutions are. Then you will start to see patterns over time with requests. When you start seeing a few customers requesting a certain thing , that’s what you know it is important.

How do you filter requests from stakeholders?

We have an effective process where sales engineers log product gaps and they tie revenue to the product gaps in Salesforce.

It’s not possible to read everything. You are trying to get a sense of patterns. You will have a hypothesis and then see quantitative data to back that up and you will figure out how to prioritize that feature.

  1. We see if the customer is blocked: Can they work around the issue? If they are completely blocked and there is no product workaround then it’s bumped up.
  2. Impact of the issue: How many people are being affected by it?Is it affecting a core business process or is it a corner case process?
  3. Engineering estimation: How much effort will it take to solve? Is the Engineering cost significant or does something else need to be sacrificed?

How do you communicate the roadmap to the rest of the company?

  1. Mini product council: These are stakeholders related to my product group and we meet monthly to inform them of the features which are coming up.
  2. Exec product council: A monthly meeting held by our head of product, which brings executive alignment with the roadmap so executives can give feedback on it.
  1. Powerpoint: For large features we have internal design decks that serve as the foundation for informing the rest of the company.
  2. Company wide release overview: Every release, we do a monthly solution overview which the company is invited to and the PM goes through all the features in that release.
  3. Documentation: Post the release, we also have documentation maintained by our team of document writers, who ensure that the customer facing documentation for the product is up-to-date.
  4. Exec Product council: This forum additionally serves as a place to discuss features post-release.

In conclusion, B2B product management is not linear. A product roadmap is speculating the future and anything can happen between now and the release of a feature. With so many variables at play, like with any forward-looking statement, one should make decisions based on present evidence and not on future suppositions.

Hopefully this article has been useful for you. Please click on the heart button if you like it and leave a comment with any further questions!

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