Why is a product roadmap important?
Oct 09 2012, 12:28 | By SME Mentor
As a young entrepreneur it is possible that you have spent many sleepless nights working out a product roadmap for your start up and are super excited about it. A product roadmap speaks of your vision and your strategies to fulfil your dreams for your entrepreneurial venture. It is natural to be excited about your product roadmap especially in the early stage of your start up, because it is pretty much all you have.
Furthermore, a product roadmap is a great confidence building measure, for you as an entrepreneur, as you can finally see your vision taking shape. But more often than not, young entrepreneurs forget where to draw the line and go overboard with sharing product roadmaps that are either too long winded or long term. Here are a few tips about a product roadmap that early stage startups can use before preparing a product roadmap.
Think through it
As obvious as it sounds, it is imperative that you give your product roadmap adequate thought and don't just chalk out the first thing that comes to you mind and go painting the town red with it. When you are in the early stage of your startup, don't overpromise, because things are bound to change quite drastically in a matter of months, depending upon your cash flow or demand from clients, changing technologies or new employees. If you start pitching a detailed product roadmap to a prospective client before you are well on your way of establishing yourself, you may end up in an awkward position just in a matter of a quarter because of inevitable changes.
Keep it short
Make sure that a product roadmap is not too long winded with technological details and logistics. A prospective client or a customer is not interested in knowing these details, and these details are often likely to get lost in translation. Make it short and succinct and include the details that you think are relevant to your potential clients. Also make sure that it is not too long term. For instance when you are just starting out do not present a product roadmap for the next 12 0r 18 months, as things are likely to be completely different in a year's time.
Make two product roadmaps
Often times a prospective client will ask for a product roadmap as you do not have a prior track record. It is therefore wise to prepare two product roadmaps, one for a prospective client that should include things like your vision, the goals you want to achieve within a certain timeframe and details of large projects that you are completely sure of delivering. The second roadmap can be used for internal purposes and can be shared with your core team members. This can include specific details on projects, timelines and strategies to minimise costs and maximise results.
Exclude specific dates from external product roadmaps
As a startup you cannot commit on specific timelines. When chalking out a roadmap rely more on themes rather than specific dates. Making a theme based product map does not mean you are being evasive. It means telling people that these are the goals you intend to meet within a stipulated time frame. If a client insists on a date based product roadmap, as they are eager to know your delivery deadlines, commit only to larger projects that you are completely sure of, as you think you will be able to deliver them on time.
Sharing your product roadmap online
While there are some entrepreneurs who are wary of competitions and have reservations against putting up up their product roadmap online, there are some new age entrepreneurs who think differently. For instance Pushpendra Mehta, founder and CEO of Vcherish, a publishing website says that it is a good idea to make optimum use of the web and the social media to reach out to the right target audience. He however advises that one should be discerning in his approach while divulging details. " For instance, it is a good idea to make a Facebook page or a Linkedin group where you can invite a group of people who can give you valuable inputs about your roadmap that may change your roadmap for the better." Mehta says. He however advises that one should not divulge too many details over here as well, as the person viewing it is likely to lose interest in it.
Put in enough caveats
You must make sure that you are coming across with absolute clarity to all your stakeholders. Make sure you put in enough caveats, especially when you are talking of deliverables. As an entrepreneur, it is your job to convey to all your prospective clients that your product roadmap is keeping the current situation is mind and things are going to be different as time passes by and you can get a firm footing on the ground.
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May 24 2013, 20:45
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