There’s been a new wave of thought in SaaS in the past few years with a streamlined focus: Customer Experience.
It’s become a relative buzzword and the industry is now pounding the drum of improving customer experience to have an optimal product.
The question becomes: how do you build the optimal product with a focus geared towards the customer experience?
This is where a Product Roadmap comes in.
The value of a product roadmap for maximizing customer experience
It is very easy to get lost and overwhelmed with decisions and nuances when you’re building a product, specifically one so heavily geared towards customer experience.
Chisel sees a Product Roadmap as a way to plan and align key features and goals into a clean, easily digestible format while simultaneously taking customer feedback into account.
Instead of having concepts and action items disjointedly existing on spreadsheets and scratchpads, a Product Roadmap has actionable steps with quantifiable times laid out to lead to whatever your end goal(s) may be.
The necessary components of a product roadmap
A good Product Roadmap needs to have certain components to communicate what value a product has to the customer.
Of course, not every roadmap is built the same, so when you’re building out your roadmap, keep in mind that it’s a continual work in progress and that Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Any good roadmap needs to have a tentative timetable. When assigning dates, organize them by the importance of your intended feature.
Features are the smaller parts of your product that you think are imperative to its success within a given time period. You decide how detailed or simplistic they ought to be.
A common practice is to create a high-level feature then specify under it what other, detailed features are needed to get it to work. In layman’s terms, think group and subgroup to specifically define segments.
Once you have a timeline of the features you want to develop, now it’s time to prioritize which features to focus on.
This requires you to assemble a potential team to bring the idea to fruition, leading to the eventual necessity of aligning the team.
Team alignment comes down to balancing the opinions of all members of your assembled team while simultaneously taking into, which features your customers value.
A product is useless unless it caters to an audience no matter how specific or nonspecific that audience is.
This is why it’s always imperative to survey your ‘ideal’ customer so that you can ensure the feature you’re expanding upon within your now fleshed out idea is relevant to your intended user.
Goals are goals, to put it simply. A goal is the reason why you are focusing on specific aspects of an idea to make it viable.
The Vision can be considered the North Star of your roadmap.
The Vision comes down to what you think the value, tangible or intangible, will be created once you’ve brought your idea through the home stretch.
The whole reason you’re even doing this is to organize your information and create an actionable plan to maximize the customer experience, the point of which is to drive revenue.
Remember, you’ll have to pitch this idea to someone, and that someone you’re pitching to is always going to ask some variation of “how will this make me money?”
So be prepared and know why and how your product will lead to more money.
Managing the product roadmap
The term for someone that manages the Product Roadmap is the Product Manager.
As the Product Manager, you must set the vision and define the strategy of bringing the product to fruition.
Identify and assess opportunities
If you’re reading this, you’re probably well past this phase.
On the off chance you aren’t, you can identify opportunities from various sources like customer requirements, competitors analysis, new market trends, and even crowdsourcing ideas from team members and executive management.
Conducting user and market research
How do you know this product is truly geared towards the customer?
The only tangible way is to conduct user and market search to validate whether or not you’re on the right track.
You can use a variety of tools, but the most efficient way would be some type of user research.
Creating a vision and prioritizing
The most successful managers create a clear vision for the idea and roadmap that is both compelling and achievable.
This is only possible once you have an in-depth understanding of the target audience’s needs and what capabilities (technologies, teams, etc.) you have at your disposal.
Team alignment, communication, and internal evangelism.
Once you’ve made your roadmap, surveyed your audience, and have a clear vision of how to bring this to fruition, now the real managerial work begins.
You are responsible for where everything is headed, so to be successful, you need to make sure there is continuous communication and coordination across all teams.
You need to make sure the Product Roadmap is adhered to and updated continuously. It’s on you to correct the course and bring this puppy home.
Most importantly, you need to be proactive with any management you may or may not have above you and be prepared with any potential shortcomings or pitfalls that may come up and address them accordingly.
This way everyone sees that you are the Captain and you are leading them to the promised land.