Most companies will want some form of predictability about what is going to happen, what they will get and especially what they will get for their money in terms of return on investment.
If you have a product backlog that’s in good shape, you pretty much have the basis of a roadmap already, as you can simply break what you have in to quarters of work and simply present the headlines of what can be delivered every quarter.
What is good about a tech product roadmap?
Product roadmaps are good because they can help you manage the expectations of the business as well as give you the opportunity to set those expectations. They are a tool to help you have a discussion with the business and iron out any misunderstandings you may have about what you predict can be achieved in a time period (usually a year broken in to quarters).
What is bad about a tech product roadmap?
Beware the stakeholder-driven roadmap. This is where a roadmap is given to you and you have to somehow adhere to it. From the start you will be constrained by someone else’s desires, without the ability to apply the reality of delivering it, such as dealing with tech-debt, or meeting changing customer demand.
Secondly, a roadmap can also kill creativity. Being so prescriptive about what you expect to be doing nine months from now is inadvisable in a world that changes so fast. Business agility will be lost and you may well be stuck delivering obsolete features whilst you’re competitors steal your customers.
What are the alternatives?
The alternative is to strive towards being an outcome led organisation with a strong guiding vision. This leaves the product team to do what product is really about, defining the problems the customer needs to solve, through experimentation.
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