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SaaS Product Roadmaps: 5 Key Principles

Product roadmap is a strategic, high-level plan that provides an outline of what to build and why.

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What is a Product Roadmap and Why do You Need One?

Product roadmap is a strategic, high-level plan that provides an outline of what to build and why. It helps you prioritize what you should be working on, and demonstrates to stakeholders the importance of certain features.

The purpose of product roadmap is to align your company with market trends by delivering the right product at the right time. A well thought out roadmap can help you get ahead of competition by noticing new trends before they get too popular. It's also important for marketing purposes since it shows potential customers what they'll be getting in upcoming updates. Roadmaps are very helpful when it comes to decision-making because they clarify which features are more important than others and how each one fits into the overall picture of your business strategy.

Principle 1: Focus on Outcomes Rather Than Features

People are often preoccupied with the features of a product, but it is important to focus on what the product will achieve. Outcomes are more valuable than features because they not only offer value to the user, but also ensure that the user can reach their desired objective.

The objective and key result (OKR) approach has become popular in recent years as an effective way of focusing on outcomes rather than features. A distinguishing feature of this process is that it starts by setting specific objectives for your company or team, and then identifies key results that need be accomplished for these objectives to be achieved.

Principle 2: Collaborate With Stakeholders

Product stakeholders are the people with the most intimate knowledge of the product and its customers. It is crucial to collaborate closely with them for a successful release.

Internal stakeholders such account managers, customer success, engineers, implementation, marketers can also be beneficial resources. Use relationships with these groups to promote your roadmap to customers through multiple online channels.

Principle 3: Create an Actionable Timeline

The roadmap timeline is a key part of the product release lifecycle. It helps to define what your product strategy will be and how it will unfold over time.

The roadmap timeline can be created in many ways, but there are three that are often used:

- One-time release plan

- Incremental release plan

- Announcement date roadmaps

Principle 4: Outline using Now, Next, Later for your Roadmap Outline

Outline major epics into three specific sections.  Leaving your roadmap with high-level buckets enables your product team to provide timelines, but not commit to specific dates.

Now: What is the latest addition to your roadmap?

Next: What are some upcoming additions to your roadmap?

Later: What are some features that you may add in the future?

Principle 5: Identify Key Activities & Who's Responsible For Them

An epic owner is the team member who is responsible for completing an iteration of work on a product backlog item. Customer product launch is one of the key release activities that need to be completed before a product is ready for launch.

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