When you think of product roadmaps, you probably think of a timeline for the products and features you have coming up.
And that’s one way of looking at it.
But a product roadmap can be so much more than a timeline. It can be an agile and strategic tool to help you not only keep up with a rapidly changing market, but to have the adaptability you need to get ahead of competitors.
It’s time to wave the old school feature-based roadmap goodbye and say hello to the outcome-driven roadmap.
Welcome aboard. ⛵️
If you’re wondering:
- What an outcome-driven roadmap is,
- How to go about making one,
- How it can be used as a strategic tool, and
- What value this will add to your Go-to-Market strategy
Then look no further, you’re in the right place.
What is an outcome-driven roadmap?
Traditional feature-based roadmaps are akin to the waterfall model: a sequential, fixed and itemized list of the products and capabilities you’ll be bringing out, with little to no emphasis on the value or purpose of the work.
Feature roadmaps aren’t designed to be flexible, which means they become obsolete very quickly as the market changes.
Outcome-driven roadmaps focus on the goals you want to achieve rather than the features you’re rolling out.
For example, instead of stating that ‘in May we’ll launch a bug fix for X device’, you could put ‘in May we’ll improve customer retention by X amount’. Rather than getting bogged down in technical language, you’ll focus on the successes you’re going to deliver.
Outcome-driven roadmaps, by their very nature, are designed to demonstrate the value of your teams and what their work is bringing to the success of a product. You can outline the results you want and deliver on them early, often and continuously.
However, your roadmap should be more than just a list of goals. It should tell a story of where your product is going and what it’ll achieve. This should also tie into the overall narrative of your company and demonstrate how an individual product is furthering the whole.
If a roadmap includes every single feature that’s coming out, that meaning will be lost in a veritable sea of technical information. Roadmaps should be a collaborative tool. But if only the most qualified engineers can understand them, they won’t benefit your other GTM stakeholders.
If you want to learn more about avoiding the feature based roadmap, check out Product-Led Alliance's article here. 👇
How to make an outcome-driven product roadmap
So, what should an outcome-driven roadmap look like in practice?
One of the most important factors in an effective product roadmap is product management having ownership of it.
Without this clear ownership, a roadmap will lose focus and become a list rather than a strategic tool.
That being said, you shouldn’t make a product roadmap in isolation. We’ve talked about this a lot, but cross-functional working is fundamental to a successful Go-to-Market strategy.
Include representatives of your core teams in roadmapping workshops or reviews to ensure you’re making the most of the expertise in your company. It's also key to get these perspectives so you have a realistic sense of what will be needed from every team to complete a project, as well as how long it’ll take.
Getting these teams involved early means everyone contributing to the project will be aligned in what they’re doing, ensuring a smooth process and a coherent and refined end product.
Start by deriving your product goals from your product strategy. The milestones on your roadmap should be the outcomes/progress you want to make. Beneath these, you can detail one or two features that will bring this outcome about, but remember to keep it brief.
I.e. your goal could be to boost customer retention by solving X pain point, beneath which you could mention the feature or capability which could solve the problem.
Your goals need to be measurable. A big part of the outcome-driven roadmap is being able to demonstrate value and success. So, highlight your accomplishments with metrics that can be clearly measured and conveyed.
The roadmap needs to be easy to understand, so that every stakeholder referring to it understands what they’re working towards and what's needed of them. Having a broad timeline for when each stage will be complete will help keep teams accountable, but flexibility is the name of the game.
How to use product roadmaps as a strategic tool
Staying ahead of the market
Far and away the greatest advantage of the outcome-driven roadmap is its agility, keeping you at the forefront of an ever-changing market.
Hold quarterly reviews of your roadmap to see where you’ve succeeded and where you’ve fallen short of your goals. This allows you to make adjustments and correct problems early, rather than leaving it until they’re embedded in a project.
You can also get feedback from customers to see if you’ve met their expectations of you as a company and use this input to guide where you go next.
These reviews are crucial as they keep you flexible and adaptable to what competitors are bringing out. If the market changes, you can too. This way you aren’t tied into outdated features or capabilities, because your vision is broader and more reactive.
Improving customer journeys
Traditionally roadmaps have always been an internal tool. A lot of people in product want to keep their ideas close to their chest, rather than give competitors any idea of what they’re working on.
However, we’re starting to see bigger companies put out a public-facing roadmap that gives customers an idea of what they’ve got coming down the pipeline.
So, what’s in it for you?
For starters, it can seriously help your customer retention. Imagine you have a pain point that you haven’t been able to solve yet, but you’re rolling out the solution early next year.
If a customer is frustrated with the pain point, they’ll likely look elsewhere for a product that’s already resolved the issue.
But if they know you’ve got a solution coming soon, they’re more likely to stick it out with the product they’ve already invested time and money into it, rather than starting from scratch.
You can also use your roadmap to demonstrate to customers that you’re taking feedback on board. You can do this by responding to feedback in your next roadmap update.
This is hugely beneficial for your relationship with existing customers.
Not only that, but a public roadmap can be used as a sales tool to bring in new customers.
Encourage your sales team to utilize your roadmap when they speak with potential customers. That way, they can win them over with the exciting releases they’ll have to look forward to as well as what’s already on offer.
Customers want to see where a company is going, that it has a progression and will evolve with their needs. A public product roadmap that sales can refer to or potential customers can find via their own research is a great way to demonstrate how you’ll do just that.
Although, there are some key differences between this and your internal roadmap. You’ll want to keep it pretty vague, and definitely don’t commit to a specific date.
It's important to manage the expectations of your customers. So, outline key things you’ve got coming up and show them you deliver on your promises. This will further build their loyalty to your brand.
What value do product roadmaps add to your Go-to-Market strategy?
Product roadmaps are a really powerful asset for your Go-to-Market strategy.
Doing collaborative groundwork early on in the process will give you a good understanding across your teams of the products going out and the value they add to the company.
This is especially important for your public facing teams like sales and customer success, as when it comes to the post-launch stage of your GTM strategy, they’ll already be empowered to convey this value to customers.
Training your teams early will make the Go-to-Market process run efficiently and smoothly. You’ll save yourself a lot of time and panic at the launch stage if everyone has been aligned and enabled from the outset of a project.
And when we’re talking about adding value, don’t forget that you can use a project roadmap to align leadership as well as teams.
Outcome driven roadmaps clearly demonstrate the value you’re adding to the company with your projects. If you’ve outlined OKRs and success metrics in your roadmap, you can use it as a tool to secure stakeholder and C-suite buy in.
As we all know, that buy-in is key to Go-to-Market success.
Want to learn more about C-suite buy in? We have the article for you. 👇
If you want C-suite and important stakeholders to be invested in your products, you have to be able to show why they should be.
Product roadmaps can clearly outline your contribution to the things that matter most to leaders: innovation, revenue and growth.
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