2 Product Roadmap Plans Any Product Manager Should Have
June 9, 2018
June 9, 2018
With any business there are always two different views and that is the strategic and tactical view of how to operate and for product managers, this is no different in how they manage a product roadmap. Often, the focus in development and especially in the founding of new companies is to get to work and start knocking out as much code as possible to get products built. As anyone who works in technology knows, the more code that is written and further along the process you are, the more costly corrections become which is why it is important to ensure what you are building aligns with your end goals.
To take a step back lets be clear on definitions of what does it mean to be strategic and operational.
Strategic Planning would be your high level objectives that you plan to accomplish. Your overall general direction of where you want to go. This helps ensure everyone understands what the puzzle looks like when it gets put together in 5 years and where all of the puzzle pieces go.
Tactical Planning would be the weeds of how you execute operationally to accomplish your strategic plan. To use the same analogy, this is the process of putting the puzzle together by breaking up the picture and implementing piece by piece until you realize the full puzzle is complete.
With the terms out of the way how do you apply the same concept to a product manager and the product roadmap process? Here are 2 product roadmaps you need to maintain to be a successful product manager and product team:
Strategic Product Roadmap: Product managers need to maintain that 3 year and 5 year vision of what is the product you are trying to build and the overall vision of the business offerings. This product roadmap is completed in large epic type of deliverables. Major features, integrations or modules are called out on this roadmap and can be done in duration such as each quarter year are some big blocks you plan to accomplish across the next few years. The specifics of how, when and what are not at this stage but simply a product roadmap that can communicate with your teams and yourself the overall vision of where you are and where you would want to be 5 years from now.
Tactical Product Roadmap: This can often be called a release map as this will now define the specific releases you will be accomplishing over the next year, the specific features that will be in each release, the milestones to accomplish that release and go through your companies overall specific software development life cycle to accomplish and implement the features. The tactical product roadmap or release map, should have a traceability into your overall strategic product roadmap. You should be able to know and communicate why you are working on implementing these specific features in this release as it rolls up to a larger epic which is in your strategic plan. Most of your company and day to day life is in your tactical product roadmap managing the moving parts to accomplish releases and features however without a long term vision, you may be building the wrong enhancements so it is always important to maintain both roadmaps and link the two.
Many leaders are often told by advisors that they need to ensure they are spending enough time working on the business and not always working in the business. This simple advice is the exact reason it is important to maintain both roadmaps and ensure that you as a product manager are spending enough time on your product planning and not in the weeds working in your product. Without the ability to see the bigger picture you run the risk of not appreciating the priorities of changes and understanding how each part of the puzzle aligns to your overall 5 year vision.