Jun 23, 2022 0 comments
Your product or service is a key element in determining the success of your business. Although you may start with one product or a small offering of products or services, they are likely to change and grow over time.
Great companies constantly evolve to stay relevant and competitive; often doing so because the owner is acting on customer feedback, responding to a great new idea or technology, or to ensure the business stays competitive and up-to-date.
A product or service strategy roadmap can help small business owners lay out an actionable plan to achieve their goals. These roadmaps do not always include the original offer. Sometimes your product or service roadmap features entirely new offerings or categories that are complementary to an existing product line.
According to ProductPlan.com, a product roadmap is a guiding strategic document that sets the vision and direction for your product offering over time – it communicates the “why” and the “what” behind what you build. The article “The Ultimate Guide to Product Roadmaps” states that the goals of a product roadmap:
- Describe the vision and strategy
- Provide a guiding document for the execution of the strategy
- Bring internal stakeholders into alignment
- Facilitate discussion of options and scenario planning
- Help communicate with external stakeholders, including customers
As products and services evolve, they inevitably become more complex. Consumer expectations rise with each new offering and there is pressure to continue to expand and integrate additional elements into products and services. In turn, these additional features will help attract additional customers.
How do you plan what happens in a product roadmap?
Roadmaps are the result of extensive analysis, review and deliberation. Once you’ve defined strategies and goals, keep the roadmap free of any undeserved inclusion by applying a few filters:
- Does the product or service have real value for users?
- Is there evidence of this value? Well-documented facts should back up this claim, and metrics should guide feature decisions.
- Is it compatible with your business model? There are a lot of good ideas, but roadmaps are the culmination of the realities of prioritization and planning. Small businesses may have limited resources and it is prudent to be aware of the number of products or services you are able to provide at any given time.
Business owners must also weigh the benefits of short-term gains against progress toward long-term goals. Any good roadmap will include a combination of both elements. This ensures that incremental gains are seen on a regular basis without losing sight of the work needed to advance the overall product strategy.
When communicating a product roadmap to customer groups, the focus should be entirely on the benefits of the product to them. Customers love to give feedback on your product feature set and often when you incorporate these recommendations into future product offerings, customer loyalty is improved. Key strategic partners, from technology vendors to distributors, will also need to understand future product goals in order to align their activities with the owner’s plans for the product.
A product roadmap encapsulates how product strategy becomes a reality and is an essential tool for any business, big or small. The document clearly identifies the products available today, the products that will be developed in the future, the feature sets and the targeted release dates. Internally, the roadmap is useful in identifying the exact components needed for manufacturing and production. Externally, it offers clients a glimpse into the future and provides advice on what’s to come.
More information on developing a product roadmap is available at www.productplan.com.
Mark Jamieson is the Coordinator of the Orangeville & Area Small Business Enterprise Center. He can be reached at [email protected], 519-941-0440 Ext. 2270 or by cell phone at 519-942-6334.