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Actually, Product Management Isn’t Really About Roadmaps

Posted by Andrea Saez
August 24, 2015

The sexy hook for product managers tends to revolve a lot around roadmaps. Sure, roadmaps are important, but as a product manager, you won’t actually be roadmapping all day long. And that’s a good thing!

[bctt tweet= “As a product manager, you won’t actually be roadmapping all day long. And that’s a good thing! -@dreasaez”]

As Head of Customer Success, part of my job is to analyze the ins and outs of our customers’ journey. While some people join ProdPad after looking for a great roadmap solution, the reality is that they don’t spend much time at all on the roadmap itself.

Analyzing customer activity

Why? Because the roadmap is a communication tool. Its purpose is to show your team and stakeholders product vision is and what the high-level initiatives will be to get there. A roadmap is not a development plan. You should not be developing, you should be planning what your team will be developing, and figuring out what you might need to get there.

So as a product manager, what else should you be focusing on?

Managing ideas

Idea management is the process of gathering ideas from your team, as well as encouraging them to submit their own. This leads to eventually spec’ing out an idea (another one of our points below). With this particular aspect, your job is to go through your backlog, update ideas, request more information if needed, and spec out those ideas that have potential.

Managing ideas in the product backlog

Getting your team engaged

Great ideas are everywhere – so why not get your team involved? Ask them to vote, comment, and submit their own original ideas. This is a great way of getting them to talk to you and to each other about how to make the product better.

Discussion in ProdPad

Spec’ing ideas

Some great ideas may just be a one-liner to begin with. Flesh them out, add more detail, and have them take form. Add a business case by answering two simple questions: What problem are you trying to solve? and What impact would it have if it were to be solved? 

As the idea takes form, add mockups and designs, add user stories if you need them, and assign a rough impact and effort to determine whether it’s a winner or a time sinker.

Priority scoring for a business case

Prioritizing

Before anything actually gets into a roadmap, you have to go through a prioritization process, which comes after your ideas have been spec’d out. By assigning an estimated impact and effort, you can easily visualize which ideas are quick wins (those you might want to consider working on) and which ideas are just not worth the time or the effort.

Prioritization matrix

You can even filter down your prioritization view by products, tags, and even customer desire, to help you get a better overview of your product requirements.

Gathering Customer Feedback

Last but not least, one of the most important aspects of being a product manager is gathering customer feedback. If you’re not listening to the people using your product, who are you even building it for? Link that feedback to popular ideas, or create new ones as they come in. Once the feature is released, you can reach out to those that contributed to it and give them an update! You’ll be a rockstar, we guarantee it.


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