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What Is the Product Roadmap?
By Demian Entrekin

The roadmap is a process to create shared agreement on product development priorities.

Typical product roadmap characteristics:

  • The product manager should be able to clearly and accurately explain how the product roadmap supports the business plan, marketing plan,the product strategy and the product design.
  • Without a strong connection between the roadmap and these key plans and designs, the product development process becomes disconnected from the business and can be subject to the whims of personalities.

  • If the management team is struggling to make roadmap decisions, then the roadmap process must be changed.

  • The product roadmap shows the major market-facing commitments and usually includes two sub-roadmaps: a feature roadmap and a technology roadmap.

  • The product roadmap communicates the specific product development commitments that support the business plan, the marketing plan and the product strategy. The product design guides how the product works for the users.

  • The roadmap process should transparent, but it should not become a decision-by-committee process; the P&L owner make final decisions and have key team members make recommendations to the P&L owner.

  • The product development resource pool is typically limited, with rapidly diminishing returns from larger teams.

  • There are three categories of demand on the product development resource pool:

    1. Grow: Items that will help grow the business, such as new features for new and active markets.
    2. Tune: Items that will help tune the business, such as enhancements to existing features for active markets.

    3. Run: Items that help to run the business such as fixing defects to existing features already in the market.

The above three sources of demand must be reconciled, prioritized and managed. The key is to spend time like money.

Demian is the CTO of Innotas. As founder and CEO, Entrekin oversaw marketing, product development, sales and services for the company. Today, he focuses on strategic product direction. Prior to Innotas, Entrekin co-founded Convoy Corporation and was Chief Architect of its initial products. In that role, Entrekin helped the company lead the middleware market with an annual growth rate of 670 percent and played an instrumental role in Convoy’s subsequent acquisition by New Era Networks in 1999. A recognized thought leader in Project Portfolio Management, Entrekin has published numerous papers on PPM and his blog (PPM Today) explores current issues related to successful PPM implementation. During his 18 year career, Demian has assumed leadership roles as a consultant and as an entrepreneur, delivering commercial and corporate database applications. Demian holds a B.A. in English from UCLA and an M.A. in English from San Francisco State University.

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