3 Reasons You Need A Product Roadmap

Screen-shot-2012-10-10-at-1.33.52-PM-300x224

Create a product roadmap for so each feature launched accomplishes one of three major business goals: customer acquisition, engagement, monetization.

By Poornima Vijayashanker (Founder & CEO, BizeeBee)

The lean startup movement has been great about touting how you should “fail often” and “fail fast”, do market research with landing pages and by buying AdWords to see if there is interest, I know it goes into more depth than that. But too many of its followers are taking it for face value and focusing on validating their idea by seeing quick adoption rather than rigorous periods of building, testing, and refining or iterating.

The truth is that not every product is going to be an Instagram. There are other products both mobile and web that take longer to build and develop. This is the primary reason why you need a product roadmap.

I don’t know how many startups actually take the time to make a product roadmap. The reason its important is because you need to have a logical flow of features and each time you put out a feature you’re creating it to accomplish one of three major business goals: customer acquisition – growth/distribution, engagement – keeping users around, or monetization – make money so you’re startup can become a viable business.

Most founders will probably roll their eyes at the thought of creating a product roadmap, who can plan out six months to a year? Planning is half the battle.

Here are three reasons you need a product roadmap:

#1 – Prevents premature pivoting.

Every startup is a pick-your-own-adventure story. But to prevent from going too off-course, and from throwing in the towel too quickly – a roadmap will let you know where you currently are and what is next.

#2 – Set milestones for you and your team.

These don’t have to be hard deadlines, but people will now have something to work towards. It’s hard to have a sense of accomplishment daily, but if you can point to building something solid after a few days, weeks, or months, then people will have that sense of accomplishment and show them how it fit into your plan.

#3 – You now have something you can measure success against.

If you release a feature and it accomplished one of the three goals (customer acquisition, engagement, or monetization), then you have achieved success. Sure, it might not be to the level you’d like, but you can at least see if its adoption and usage achieve that goal. This also makes it easier to prioritize whether or not you want to develop the feature more fully, refine it or abandon it altogether.

So now how do you go about creating a product roadmap? Come attend my workshop on October 27 at General Assembly in San Francisco, California (easy location for aspiring product developers in Silicon Valley).

The GA workshop is called Introduction to Product Development and will teach you how to create a roadmap to align your product and business goals.

Use discount code “Women2.0″ when you register here and you’ll receive 15% off.

Click on the below product roadmap to enlarge:

Screen-shot-2012-10-10-at-1.33.52-PM

This post was originally posted at Femgineer.

About the guest blogger: Poornima Vijayashanker is Founder & CEO of BizeeBee. Prior to that, she was at Mint where she began as employee #3 in 2006, and stayed through the startup’s acquisition by Intuit for $170M in 2010. Prior to Mint, she was in the Master’s degree program for computer science at Stanford University but dropped out to join Mint. Poornima holds a double degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering and Computer Science from Duke University. Poornima blogs on Femgineer.com and is a competitive yoga. Follow her on Twitter at @poornima.