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Establishing an Outcome-Driven Roadmap

Product

31 October, 2020

Toby Delamore, Product Manager at Xero, describes how to establish an outcome-driven roadmap by introducing the “opportunity solution tree”.

Problem

Roadmaps frequently turn into runways for features where individual features would populate the roadmap at random. Adding ideas indiscriminately and making time commitments is harmless on multiple levels. Instead of assessing what pieces of work would drive the real outcome that you are trying to achieve as a product team, features will be piled up without being related to any outcome.
 

Actions taken

The first logical step is to challenge yourself to create a more outcome-driven roadmap. I would start thinking about a roadmap from an outcome perspective as opposed to laying out a number of features in random order and without attaching them to a clear outcome. Typically, you will have two or three key outcomes, precisely defined and easily measurable (for example, increase customers by 20 percent). To achieve these outcomes I would identify opportunities that may drive them. In the end, through a product discovery process, I would come up with ideas that would help achieve those opportunities.
 

I was inspired by Teresa Torres, a product discovery coach, who created the opportunity solution tree, a visual chart that helps create an outcome-driven roadmap. The tree itself consists of four parts: outcomes, opportunities that have emerged from the research, solutions to target opportunities, experiments to evaluate the solutions, and the riskiest assumptions behind them.
 

Her approach inspired me to be more intentional during the discovery phase and generate ideas that directly contribute to the outcomes. Before adding any ideas to a roadmap, I would pick a handful and validate them against already defined outcomes.
 

Lessons learned

  • Don’t fall into the feature-roadmap trap. Don’t put features on a timeline with only the hope that the result will contribute to the outcomes.
  • Start with establishing outcomes you want to achieve and opportunities that will help you achieve those outcomes.
  • Mapping them first will provide you with a much clearer picture of choices you should make to drive successful outcomes for your product and not just deliver features that may not result in any value for your product.

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