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Setting Up a Product Roadmap

Somya Jain

Partner at SWARM

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Problem

Nowadays, there are a lot of different ways people go about setting up a product roadmap. The process has evolved and changed a lot. It used to be that you would write use cases by understanding the user and seeing what gave them the most value, subsequently building on value. That doesn't explain however, how many applications like Snapchat and Twitter are adding value. It is not to say that there is no value add component, but you can't just share a photo and hope it adds value, because there are already 50 other ways to do that. It frankly isn't enough to identify a product and set up its roadmap.

Actions taken

Start this process internally by identifying that the user journey does not yet exist. Then, ask yourself what it would look like if it did.

  • Where are we going to find the user or how are they going to find us?
  • What is the call to action? How do we get them to come to the site or download the app?
  • What kind of drop off are we expecting? If we send out 100 emails, how many people do we expect to respond? Based on the estimates of what you expect the users to do, you can begin to map the journey out with step by step actions that you will ask the user to take.
  • Understand your audience and their emotional needs in terms of how you want them to feel.
  • Ask the user to perform an action, the whole time understanding and aligning with their emotions or feelings. Finally, build features based on this user journey that you have created.

Lessons learned

  • Do not try to understand your users by demographics, but more along the lines of who they really are, what they are trying to achieve, and how can you make their life easier.
  • As you start to build a framework to estimate the percentage of people you expect to respond, you will begin to see where you have problems. From there, you can fix this part of the app or that part of the journey accordingly.
  • When you start to think about the emotional needs and feelings of your audience, all of the sudden Twitter, Snapchat and other products start making sense. You realize that your goal as a product owner is to take your user on a journey from start to finish. You want them to feel satisfied when they post something or get a high when someone retweets them, making them feel like what they are saying is important.
  • By estimating each action the user would take and by seeing which points cause friction and which do not, you create a kind of iterative product roadmap to build and test your product.
  • A lot of times, especially in the projects that we do, clients come up with grand ideas of things they want to do. It is always great to have a user journey in place as a default to see if these ideas fit into the journey. If it does fit, we can put it in and adjust, it's not forbidden to re-adjust the journey. If it doesn't fit however, then it is out. This is a very simple and effective means to get everyone's ideas on the table and build a framework to include or exclude features and build out a product roadmap.

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Somya Jain

Partner at SWARM


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