Building A Product Roadmap that works!

Vinokurov_Yury via Twenty20
Building A Product Roadmap that works!
At a Glance

To create a viable SaaS product, you must have a well-defined product roadmap in place. Creating a product roadmap is not an overnight process but requires months of research and planning before arriving at the execution stage. For creating a well-defined product roadmap for your SaaS enterprise, you must focus on certain key aspects mentioned here.

The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.

Michael Porter

As a young entrepreneur, you already have that one idea in your mind to take your business to the next level. But having just an innovative idea just in your mind is not enough to impress the audience, is it? You must build a perfect SaaS product for your target audience and release the minimum viable product (MVP) at the earliest. To build a product strategically and step-by-step, every SaaS business requires a product roadmap.

You cannot develop a product roadmap overnight. Many strategic thinking, planning, and research go into it because your product roadmap will define the plan for executing your product strategy. Some of the most important points included in a product roadmap are, vision and goal of the product, guidelines to execute the strategies to achieve that goal, scenario planning, etc. It also helps you communicate with your internal stakeholders and make sure everyone is on the same page.

How to create a product roadmap?

If you already have a product in the market and add some new features, you have some prior knowledge about the product roadmap. But, for someone who is building it from scratch, he or she will be puzzled. So, let us have a look at what are the core components that should be included in your product roadmap and the guide to build one. 

Core components of a product roadmap 

Here are some of the essential components which are vital for your product roadmap: –

●  Product description

●  Goals

●  Releases

●  Epics

●  Features

●  Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

●  User stories

●  Timeline

Adding all these components requires a lot of insights from your team and stakeholders. This is generally discussed during the business meeting, and then once everything is decided, the final document is made accessible for everyone.

Building your product roadmap step-by-step

Defining the goal of the project

When you build a product roadmap, you are either updating an existing game plan or creating a new one for the product development. If you are building a new product from scratch, your goal should be to release the MVP in the market as early as possible. Make sure you do not make it too complicated by adding a lot of features. It should be easy to use by any specific section of the target audience you are aiming for. So, the goal of your product roadmap should be clear to everyone.

A clear and concise roadmap

After setting the goal of your product roadmap, the next is to plan how to achieve it. This step mainly includes which employee or team is going to play what part in this product development. So, make sure your language is crisp and direct. If you add too much information to it, your team members might get confused, which will lead to miscommunication and delaying your work. So, your product roadmap should have a strategic plan on how to proceed, and all the detailed descriptions will go in your product backlog.

User stories

The next step involves mapping user stories to create an elaborate and interesting backlog. This is the step where we focus on what the users want and think from their perspective. All the company stakeholders, developers, finance team, etc., sit together and gather the required information on building the final product.

Product features

Your product will have multiple features, but you must decide which one is more important and prioritize your tasks accordingly. For example, you are building a SaaS product with various subscription models. So, your first task will be to create a user interface so that users can sign in for a free trial or sign up as a guest viewer or have an option to upgrade to the premium model. This is how you need to work on the main product feature, and once you release the MVP, you have time to add new features.

Categorizing tasks into epics

After your goals, user mapping, and product features have been set, your next task will be to subdivide your goals into targets and mini targets. You should break your entire plan into a few sections and set the deadline for each level. The number of levels to finally reach the end goal depends on how big your product is.

Creating a visionary board

The next step is to put every final decision taken in a single document or sheet so that every stakeholder can see it. Moreover, after completing each level of tasks or epic, everyone will update that we are one level up, and testing can be done for that stage. You can see for yourself if your product is working or some changes are necessary.

Reviews for your product roadmap

After testing for each step, chances are you will falter, and some unpredicted road bumps will come up. But since you are testing at every stage, you should collect feedback from everyone working on the product. Take their insights as to why they think it is faltering or what can be some, ask questions like how soon there can be a solution, is the solution viable or not, do we have enough resources, etc. After collecting the feedback, again have a meeting with your stakeholders and implement the changes.

Apart from the goal and strategic planning in your ideal SaaS product roadmap, everyone on board has a different role to play; for example, the engineers will have a different role than the sales team. Here, we are taking the internal product roadmap example for engineers. The internal roadmaps for engineers will focus mainly on features, releases, and sprints and should be more granular than the other internal roadmaps. But that does not mean the engineers will shift from their primary focus. They will have a strategic goal, deadlines, and epics, but their role in the project development will be explained descriptively. 

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