Recently I had an idea for another more honest way of depicting the roadmap of a product. It came to my mind when I heard about a request from a potential new customer in a RFQ (Request For Quotation) process. They wanted to see our product roadmap five years into the future… Usually a product roadmap shows a timeline from now and 2-3 years into the future. On that timeline, functionality that is planned to be added is laid out to reflect trends in the market and to meet customer needs. It all boils down to that the company wants to claim things like ”Our competitor will add function X to their product in 2017, but we will do it next year already!”. However, who can honestly know and say with some sort of certainty what they will be adding into their product two, three up to five years from now?
Product radar (external)
Here is an example on how a product radar would look like.
Instead of showing your product roadmap along a time line, why not use a radar? Things that are close to the center as almost certain that they will become available in your product in the near future. Things that are further away are more distant in time and the likelihood of them being implemented is less, they may not be included at all. By using the product radar you can illustrate what your may include in the future but without giving (false) hopes when it will become available in time. You don’t have to include time at all in the product radar!
Product radar (internal)
Full transparency! If you are using the product radar for internal purpose (within your company) you may want to go full transparency and also add the movement of the items on the radar. This is indicated by an arrow. The direction of the arrow shows if things are moving ”in to the product” (closer to the center), ”out of scope for the product” (out in the periphery ) or if they are ”not moving” (remain still). The length of the arrow is indicating the speed of the movement. Maybe there is a trend in the market that you really must ”be on” (fast movement) or other things that are there merely there for observation (no movement, like in ”we keep an eye on this, but we are not doing anything actively”).
Old habits die hard
What if your customers insist and continue to require that time should be visible in your product roadmap? Well, you can still use the product radar! Try one of the following alternatives:
- Let the circles represent versions of your product. If you are on V1.0 right now, the circle in the middle indicates V2.0, the outer circle of that V3.0 and so on. Then you communicate how many releases you plan per year, and your customers can figure out the time themselves.
- Let the circles represent the time. The circle in the middle indicates ”this year”, the outer circle of that ”next year” and so on.
This is another one of my visualization ideas that I would like to share with you before I have tried it out myself. Right know, for some reason, I get more ideas than time permits me to try out myself. However, if you try the product radar I would very much would like hear about it! A last, but not least, good reason for doing the product radar is the ability to say to a customer when they ask about function Y, you can truly say ”We have it on the radar” 🙂
All the best,
Tomas from TheAgileist