Lies, Damn Lies and Roadmaps

You know the drill… a key customer wants you and their Account Manager to show up and present your latest roadmap, so they can see when they’ll be receiving their long-awaited products or enhancement requests.

Of course, you did that nine months ago, promising said enhancement requests would be delivered… um… last month.  Ahem.  “Yes, well, uh, we had to work in an enhancement for another important customer like you and then it took longer than we thought and then…”

Tired of moving boxes around on a PPT slide and calling it a roadmap?  Here are three keys to getting out of the graphics production business and back to real product management.shutterstock_3209558

1.  Product roadmaps are based on product strategy.  If you can’t articulate your product strategy, then you will be forever creating tactically-driven roadmaps and making perpetual excuses to your customers, partners, and executives.

2.  Product roadmaps are not a commitment to ship.  They’re an indication of the direction you’re headed, the basic route you’ll take, and approximately when you’ll get there.  For commitments, use a Product Release Plan (e.g. 6 months).  Release plans have assigned resources and tracked progress, so your commitments have some weight behind them.

3. In switching to a strategy-driven roadmap, you may think that you’ll just increase your ‘key customer’ management burden.  Surprisingly, once your customers understand your strategy, many will agree with how you’ve incorporated their enhancement requests in the release plan and roadmap.  When no strategy is apparent, it’s just a head-to-head competition between customers for priority – and what makes one customer more important than another?  That’s a very hard question to answer in front of customers!

If you’re ready to transform your roadmap into a strategic management tool, join Product Arts and Pivotal Product Management on August 24 for our new action-packed workshop, “Creating Product Roadmaps for Market Impact”.  You’ll work on your own roadmap and determine what’s missing, how to fill in the gaps, and how to pull all the information together in a way that puts you out in front.  And we’ll prepare to you to communicate your roadmap to executive audiences.

Posted in For PM Executives, General / Opinion, Managing Up & Across, Product Management Best Practices, Product Management Tips  |  Leave a comment

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