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Transforming Roadmaps to Drive Real Business Value

transforming roadmaps

Product roadmaps serve an invaluable purpose in laying out the vision and strategy for bringing new solutions to market. But detail-driven roadmaps packed with laundry lists of features often fail to drive real world business results.

To maximize value, modern product teams need to reimagine roadmapping by shifting from outputs to outcomes. This means transitioning from roadmaps focused on “what” gets built to ones focused on “why” features matter and their intended impact.

Here are four key principles for transforming product roadmaps to drive tangible business value:

Anchor Roadmaps in Company Goals

The most common roadmapping mistake is developing plans detached from higher-level company goals and strategy. When product managers create roadmaps solely focused on outputs—the what and when—without consciously connecting efforts to business outcomes, alignment suffers.

Linking roadmaps directly to vital company goals transforms their strategic value. It ensures teams build capabilities that actually advance objectives around revenue, user growth, cost reductions, or satisfaction rather than working in silos.

Here are a few ways to anchor in goals:

Connect with Company Leadership

Continually communicate with all the teams across the ART like Agile teams, sales, marketing and executive leadership, etc., to understand evolving business objectives. What struggles or opportunities take priority right now?

Map Company KPIs

Outline 2-3 company-level key performance indicators the product organization tangibly influences like conversion rates, retention or acquisition cost. Map new features to KPIs to showcase direct impact.

Forecast Business Value

Estimate expected business value each initiative on the roadmap will drive using metrics like expected new MRR, cost savings, or 5-year NPV (Net Promoter values). Make the tie to financials concrete.

Revisit Frequently

Revalidate roadmap alignments quarterly as company priorities adapt to market dynamics or new initiatives launch and gain learnings. Adjust sequencing or features to optimize for refreshed goals.

Anchoring firmly to company goals ensures your roadmap continually ladders up. Leadership will gain much more confidence in resourcing roadmapped initiatives knowing they move the needle.

Spotlight Target Outcomes

The most effective product roadmaps move beyond simply listing desired features and capabilities. They specifically outline the tangible outcomes those features intend to produce.

By spotlighting precise quantitative and qualitative results linked to each prioritized feature or initiative, product teams build accountability and consciousness around driving real impact.

Here are some best practices for showcasing outcomes:

Define Quantitative Targets

For key features, identify 2-3 specific quantitative KPIs it aims to improve and precise numerical targets. For example, driving video views per user from 100 to 125 monthly or reducing churn among highest tier customers from 8% to 5%.

Map Qualitative Outcomes

Supplement quantitative KPI aims with qualitative outcomes detailing exactly how a feature will tangibly improve customer experiences, remove friction, or add value. Get very specific on elevating emotions and satisfying jobs-to-be-done.

Outline Strategic Results

Look beyond product metrics to how features will influence company-level results outlined in goals like increasing share of enterprise market segment from 11% to 15% in first year of rollout.

Connect Benefits to Buyers

Clarify not just what new capabilities enable but exactly how those features translate to real-world value for both users directly and business buyers sponsoring purchases.

With targets defined upfront, teams stay conscious of driving tangible impact vs. outputs. And outcomes-focused roadmaps build excitement, spurring stakeholders to invest in high-value initiatives.

Prioritize Ruthlessly

The fastest way to dilute the potential value of product roadmaps is overstuffing them with hundreds of nice-to-have features. Prioritization discipline is essential.

Product leaders need to apply tough scrutiny, saying “no” far more than “yes” to limit roadmaps to the select few capabilities truly poised to drive disproportionate business value.

WSJF (Weighted Shortest Job First) technique is used in SAFe to prioritize features. WSJF is a proven and successful technique used for prioritization. 

Also, the below listed points can be considered for better understanding the need of the features to be implemented.

Implement Rigorous Scoring Frameworks

Evaluate every single proposed capability against value-focused rubrics like ROI calculators, evidence-based opportunity sizing, and risk-adjustments. Filter out anything that doesn’t surpass high score thresholds.

Enforce Independent Analysis

Require multiple corroborating data sources before committing major roadmap slots to any capability. Vet ideas through customer advisory boards, user research learnings, and concept tests before prioritizing.

Sunset Legacy Offerings

Actively identify mature features to retire in order to direct resources to higher potential new capabilities. Let evidence guide hard choices on where gains have tapped out.

Size Appropriately

Scope features are small enough so they can be reasonably delivered in one quarter or less. Avoid stuffing roadmaps with multi-year epic efforts that limit flexibility.

Revisit Quarterly

Integrate accumulated user data and new market learnings to rigorously re-evaluate priorities and deprioritize anything now shown to lack sufficient customer value.

While saying “yes” feels better short term, prioritizing ruthlessly focuses efforts on what matters most to move the needle on business goals. The discomfort pays off.

Maintain Clear Sequencing

Driving sought-after business outcomes via product roadmaps depends greatly on executing features in an intentional sequence that tells a cohesive story over time.Haphazard roadmaps that randomly toss on capabilities without a logical throughline rarely accrue the full value.

By thoughtfully mapping dependencies and ordering releases, product teams ensure smooth rollouts that systematically build capabilities towards a desired end vision.

Here are some tips for maintaining clear sequencing:

Map Dependency Chains

Visualize how certain features can only unlock value after foundational capabilities or infrastructure is built first. Link related capabilities into dependency chains so teams execute foundations before accelerating enhancements.

Define Transition States

Outline transitional states users will move through as product evolves via a capabilities roadmap depicting how early releases graduate users through maturing experiences leading to the ultimate vision.

Separate Enablers from Accelerators

Segment roadmap features into two buckets – platform enablers needed to enable a robust product and accelerators that amplify and enhance an established product. Enablers generally sequence earlier.

Pace Innovations

For more transformational innovations, map release milestones every 8-12 weeks to test assumptions and continuously adapt designs based on real user feedback at each stage gate before committing further down the roadmap.

Well-sequenced roadmaps avoid wasted efforts from teams building futures before foundations. They pave clear pathways towards delivering on strategy.

Final Words

Shifting roadmaps from laundry lists of features to strategic plans focused on achieving concrete business objectives takes work. But the effort pays dividends.

Roadmaps anchored tightly to company goals, spotlighting target outcome metrics, ruthlessly prioritizing only the initiatives with real needle-moving potential, and sequencing releases in market-validating phases yield products that tangibly move the needle.

They provide the map and measuring stick to assess if product teams are actually building capabilities that produce value vs. outputs.

Approaching roadmaps through this business value lens forges tighter partnerships with company leadership as well. It evolves conversations from haggling over pet features and opinions to discussing substantive data on how new capabilities will improve customer experiences, unlock revenue, and accelerate strategic growth.

In the end, a product roadmap is merely a plan. But plans focused on and accountable to actual outcomes will take you so much further than laundry lists of features.

Start applying that value-focused product planning lens today to point your product – and company – where it truly wants to go next. Not just show where it could meander based on guesses. Plot the course for real impact.

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