How One Blog Post Changed the Way We Handle Our Product Roadmap.

What would be stupid for us not to do in the next 90 days?

I’m currently Head of Design at Old St Labs and we‘re working on a product called Vizibl. I’m also acting as a Product Owner with the help and guidance from our CEO & Co-founder, Mark Perera.

What comes with the role is to plan what we work on and make important and very hard decisions on what we should and shouldn’t prioritise next, taking into account the stage of the product, the business goals, and most importantly what our users are saying.

The team here at Old St Labs is very unique. We have a mix of the talented, up-and-coming startup-types, as well as those who have come from large enterprise companies, bringing priceless experience and insight and a unique vision of where we take the product. This mix of backgrounds and knowledge is key in my opinion to making the product a real success.

The Challenges

Vizibl is changing rapidly at the moment. It’s in its seed stage so we are working hard with our users to push the product forward and improve market fit.

How we can get the whole company behind a planned roadmap, where they actually understand what the product team are working on and why it’s valuable to our users?

This stage comes with some big challenges. The most difficult question we’re currently facing is: how we can get the whole company behind a planned roadmap, where they actually understand what the product team are working on and why it’s valuable to our users. This is a really difficult challenge, and very important to get right as the team continues to grow.

Priorities seem to change every week at a startup, so it’s key that we are working on the most valuable features and ignore the noise. Our lack of transparency in feature prioritisation, coupled with an influx of ideas, will eventually start to frustrate the team so things needed to get better.

My Guiding Light

This is something, as product owner, I’ve been thinking a lot about. It’s important for us to have a roadmap to keep the product team moving forward, but we found that by planning far into our future, we weren’t able to stay nimble. I then came across an article by Tom Conrad that really hit the nail on the head with an explanation of his process at Pandora.

This shorter roadmap could help us tighten the loop between feedback and implementation

He introduces the idea of only planning 90 days in advance in order to be constantly re-evaluating the product roadmap. This shorter roadmap could help us tighten the loop between feedback and implementation.. He also proposed an interesting management technique for ensuring engineering resources are realistically allocated, allowing us to best prioritise the resources we have.

Below I’ve included a presentation I gave to the company , proposing a process for Old St Labs heavily inspired by Tom’s roadmap and resource allocation. I will be sure to update with how this process works in practice.

A big thank you again to @tconrad for sharing the article that really inspired this presentation. You can read Tom’s original post here